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Clashes erupt as Brazil police retake huge squatter site

Police record 10 arrests during repossession of land 1,500 families set up makeshift huts

Clashes erupt as Brazil police retake huge squatter site

By Benjamin Tavener


At least 10 people have been arrested in the northeastern Brazilian city of Recife as police cleared a 40 hectare (100 acre) plot recently settled by hundreds of families, local media reported Thursday.

Police complied with a repossession order to take back the private property, where homeless families set up camp earlier this month.

Reports say as many as land  covered with plastic tarpaulins on the site.

Some residents protested police action and blocked major roads. 

Violence erupted at least twice, with local media reporting security forces, who were pelted with stones, dispersed crowds with rubber bullets and tear gas.

Some of the 800 military police officers sent to enforce the court order were injured but there have not been reports of injuries to protesters.

Globo Nordeste also reported that a car was torched and a bus window smashed during the clashes which broke out as tempers flared when tractors attempted to gain access to the site to tear down the shelters.

The land was reportedly bought by a private company in 2011, but has remained vacant.

Local newspaper Diario de Pernambuco said some of those displaced have stayed in the vicinity of the site, with many claiming they have nowhere else to go. Police also remained at the site during the day. 

Recife City Hall said it had registered families and would analyze whether they could be included on the municipality social housing system.

A lack of housing and rising property prices have dogged Brazilian cities including Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo -- both of which have had hundreds of buildings occupied en masse. Court orders regularly catch up with occupying families.

Although Brazil provides social housing to families, activists say the problem is not being tackled widely enough, and that desperate families are simply forced to move on, often into other unoccupied buildings or plots of land. 

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