Photos Juliana Knobel Text Vincent Bevins
Take a walk around the center of São Paulo, South America’s largest city, and you’ll see a number of buildings covered in graffiti and revolutionary red flags. They’re abandoned structures occupied by left-wing social movements, and serve as living protests to pressure the government to provide for the millions of Brazilians in need of adequate housing. And while they last, they also provide a place to live for families that are down on their luck.
I recently spent the better part of a month living in one of the occupations, doing research for a story. One can hear a lot of nasty rumors about these buildings, but I mostly had a lovely time amongst a well-organized community of residents that seemed genuinely eager to help each other out. Of course, this may have been partially because the MMPT has a strict policy of excluding troublemakers.