The visit of a delegate from the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign last year, together with encounters with the visiting Palestinian community in Brazil during the recent World Social Forum (WSF) in Porto Alegre, have led to new solidarity ties between people from the Favela (slum) of Acari in Rio de Janeiro and Palestinians under Israeli occupation.
The Acari Committee in support of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and against the Occupation was established shortly after the WSF with Brazilian activists mobilizing support for the Palestinian struggle amongst Acariâs 34,000 inhabitants. One activist from Acari noted:
“We have had the opportunity to know the hard reality of the Palestinian People under the Israeli Occupation in their own land and to see that the people in Acari have something in common with the Palestinian people. [â¦] We know about the Palestinian struggle only by pictures and films but we have the conviction that the Palestinian peopleâs struggle is also the struggle of the people in the Favelas in Rio de Janeiro. We know very well what it means to suffer racism, to see our young people murdered or criminalized and jailed as criminals. [â¦] Despite the geographic distances and cultural differences, the truth is that our dreams of freedom and happiness of our people bring us close as brothers and sisters which have to stand in solidarity and join forces with courage and human dignity.â
Acari Favela has some of the worst living conditions in Rio de Janeiro with near 45% of the workforce unemployed, at least 10% of the male population in subhuman prisons (many without ever being charged) and dozens of young people killed in extra-judicial executions. The Favela is encircled by visible and invisible walls which restrict the freedom of movement of its inhabitants. More than 90% of its inhabitants were expelled from their land because of agricultural policies and practices which have led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of people. Many of them now live as refugees in the Favelas, stripped of dignity and cultural identity.
On March 1st the activities of the Acari Committee of solidarity with the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and against the Occupation will be officially launched and will include: Palestinian and Brazilian Photo and Cartoon Exhibits, Films Screenings, Palestinian and Brazilian poetry and music performances, conferences and panels.
March 8th will be dedicated to Palestinian and Brazilian Women who often bear the brunt of exploitation and oppression. On March 21st (International Day against Racism) activities will highlight the racist character of Israelâs Occupation and Apartheid
On March 30th, the Acari Committee have organized an event with music, dance, theatre, films and other artistic expressions together with the planting of 112 olive trees as a symbol for the 112,000 olive trees, many of them dating back to Roman times, criminally uprooted from Palestine to build the Apartheid Wall.
The Acari Committee in support of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and against the Occupation is also planning to equip a tent that will be exhibited in 25 schools and Favela communities in the state of Rio enabling activists to talk to around 60,000 young people as well as teachers and residents. Messages, letters, poetries and other contributions from the schools and the communities in support of the Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign and the Palestinian struggle will be produced and sent to Palestine.
The establishment of the committee in the Favela of Acari is clearly an important step towards the growing ties amongst people in the global south who face colonial oppression, land theft and displacement every day. It is an expression of the awareness Latin American social movements that the success of their struggles is closely linked to the resistance of the Palestinian people and that Palestine will be free if the oppressed people in the world join forces to stand in solidarity.