Backgrounder: Twelfth in a 13-part series
By Barbara J. Fraser
Catholic News Service
MANAUS, Brazil (CNS) — On Christmas Eve of 2015, Marcia Soares’ home was bulldozed into oblivion, and with it, her dreams for the future.
She and her husband had bought a small lot in a new neighborhood in a poor area of this Amazonian city. They had built a simple house and opened a small bakery, where they made bread. They dreamed of a secure future for their three children.
But that Dec. 24, as helicopters circled overhead, bulldozers arrived and leveled the neighborhood, leaving thousands of people on the street.
The person who’d sold the lots had not been the real owner of the land. Someone who claimed to be the owner — which may or may not have been true — came along and ordered the destruction of the homes, with help from the police.
“We saw the sunrise as we huddled on the ruins of our homes,” recalled Soares, 39. “It was like I imagined a war zone would be.”
Her children cried from hunger, but there was no food and no money for groceries. The nightmare continued for two weeks, as they were forced to live on the sidewalk outside the property where their home used to be.