São Paulo: Cracolândia Makeover Fails a Fact-Check?

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On several occasions, local TV news programs have run hidden-camera and amateur video footage of the local police “contributing to the vitalization of the area.” In this incident, two troopers were suspended for (gratuitiously) assaulting subjects of a stop and search with brass knuckles. In one piece of footage we saw, police search two youths, beat the snot out of them, apparently find nothing, and then set the backpacks of the two young men on fire.

Demolição e polêmica na Nova Luz: The São Paulo city government’s urban renewal plan for the so-called Cracolândia district starts with the demolition of the first buildings over which it has announced it plans to exercise the right of eminent domain.

The accompanying public announcement from the mayor fails a reality-test.

And apparently fails it fairly badly. This seems to happen fairly often.

A Prefeitura demoliu ontem o primeiro imóvel para transformar a Cracolândia, no centro, em Nova Luz. No evento em que a administração pôs abaixo a loja de número 381 da Rua General de Couto Magalhães, o prefeito Gilberto Kassab anunciou o nome de 23 empresas, de tecnologia, call center, cultura e publicidade, que devem se instalar na região – entre elas o Instituto Moreira Salles e multinacionais como Microsoft e IBM. Mas algumas companhias afirmaram que nada está fechado e revelaram mal-estar com o anúncio.

The city administration demolished the first structure in its project to turn “Crack City São Paulo,” in the downtown area, into the New Light district.

“Crack City São Paulo” is not, of course, its official name. It applies to a certain portion of the Santa Ifigênia district known as an open-air marketplace for smokable rock cocaine and prostitution.

In a public ceremony held outside the shop at 381 General de Couto Magalhães Street, mayor Gilberto Kassab announced the name of 23 companies from the tech, call center, culture and advertising sectors that are scheduled to take up residence in the area — among them the Moreira Salles Institute and multinationals like Microsoft and IBM. But some companies say that nothing has been conclusively agreed to and expressed dismay over the mayor’s announcement.

Since the dispute here is whether His Honor announced deals as done that his partners say are not done deals, it would have been best to quote his actual words. Let me see if I can find them.

Segundo a assessoria da IBM, “ainda está sendo negociada a ida da empresa para a Nova Luz e não há projeto final”. “A IBM não fechou nada, e ainda é preciso saber as condições para a empresa se instalar na região.” A Microsoft, limitou-se a dizer que o anúncio da Prefeitura “não procede”. Procurado, o Instituto Moreira Salles não respondeu ao Estado.

According to the press office of IBM, “the company’s move to Nova Luz is still being negotiated, and no final plan exists.” “IBM has committed to nothing, and still needs to know that conditions exist for the company to install itself in the area. Microsoft limited itself to saying that the city administration’s announcement “is without foundation.” Sought for comment, the Moreira Salles Foundation did not respond to this reporter.

As 23 empresas apresentaram projetos para ocupar uma área de 150 mil metros quadrados da Nova Luz, após consulta aberta pela Prefeitura. O que as companhias ouvidas pelo Estado alegam é que isso foi apenas uma etapa do processo de instalação na região, que depende de benefícios fiscais.

The 23 firms presented proposals for occupying an area of 150,000 square meters in the Nova Luz district after open consultations with the city government. What the firms interviewed by this newspaper allege is that this is just once stage in the process of their taking up residence in the area, which will depend on the fiscal incentives offered.

“Esse anúncio foi um atestado da Prefeitura sobre quais empresas estão de fato habilitadas para se mudar para o centro, mas ainda não se discutiu o porcentual do benefício”, disse Carlos Alberto Viceconti, sócio da Digisign Ltda. “Nós com certeza iremos, já até alugamos uma sala num prédio antigo.”

“This announcement was an affirmative statement by the city government about which firms are in fact cleared to move to the downtown area, but the percentage of the benefit to be granted has yet to be discussed,” said Carlos Alberto Viceconti, a partner in Digisign Ltda. “We are certainly going to move there, we have even already rented space in an old building there.”

On Viceconti:

CARLOS ALBERTO VICECONTI é Presidente da SecureWay/DigiSign. É graduado em Engenharia pela EPUSP, com pós-graduação em Ciências da Computação pelo IME-USP. Trabalhou sempre com aplicações especiais da computação, tendo fundado a CryptoSystems do Brasil – empresa pioneira na utilização das tecnologias de criptografia avançada, assinatura digital e certificação digital no país, responsável pelos primeiros projetos que utilizam estas tecnologias no país, dos quais o mais conhecido e importante é o protocolo de segurança do ReceitaNet – o programa de entrega de declarações de impostos via Internet.

That is, he is a government IT and crypto contractor.

I saw a TV piece on the project a few months back in which they interviewed an ad shop that had already moved into the neighborhood. An ad shop one of whose principal clients, in fact, was the city government, as I recall.

A Prefeitura admitiu que as negociações não estão concluídas. Mas disse ter “certeza” de que todas as 23 empresas irão para a Nova Luz.

The city government admitted that negotiations have not concluded. But it said it is “certain” that the 23 firms will move to Nova Luz.

Sounds like one of those nam myoho renge kyo PR campaigns — in order to further progress toward a designed outcome in a negotiation, you announce it as a done deal, putting pressure on the counterparty to the deal to ratify it.

On the other hand, the counterparty might also conclude that the party they are dealing with is not particularly honest, and walk away from the deal.

Interestingly, as G1 (Globo) notes, there was another nam myoho renge kyo moment at the same press conference, when subprefect Matarazzo referred to the mayor’s reelection as a fait accompli:

“Eu queria dizer para o senhor [se referindo a Kassab], que o senhor ainda no seu mandato, isto é, ainda nos próximos cinco anos, o senhor terá um bairro aqui. O bairro da Nova Luz, numa visão completamente diferente do que encontramos na gestão [do ex-prefeito, José] Serra”, afirmou Matarazzo, emendando “Portanto, nos próximos cinco anos se o senhor ainda quiser, obviamente, contar comigo, eu vou estar à frente desse projeto.”

“I wanted to say to His Honor, that His Honor will, while still in office — that is, within the next five years — will have a new neighborhood here. A Nova Luz neighborhood, according to a vision completely different than that found during the Serra administration (as mayor,” said Matarazzo, who added: “for that reason, in the next five years, if His Honor still wants me, obviously, he can count on me, I will continue to head this project.”

A few months ago, the mayor’s approval rating fell perilously close to single digits.  I am not exaggerating … much. Quite a bit lower than the approval rating for the Iraq War, at any rate, and that has fallen pretty far.

A Prefeitura decretou de utilidade pública 269,3 mil m² na região. Nos 150 mil m², a empresa interessada negociará com o dono a compra do terreno. Se houver impasse, a administração vai desapropriar a área e revendê-la.

The city government has declared 296,300 square meters in the area as “of public utility.”

That is, they exercised effective eminent domain over it.

In the 150,000 square meters set aside for the business zone, the interested firm will negotiate the purchase of the property with its owner. In the case of an impasse, the city government will expropriate the area and resell it.

O impasse diz respeito aos incentivos. Por lei, as empresas poderão receber créditos de até 80% do valor do imóvel. Os critérios serão definidos até o fim do ano. Por enquanto, só está certo que quem se instalar na região terá desconto de 50% no IPTU e de 60% no ISS.

[tktktktktk]

The Wikipedia article on Santa Ifigênia, “Cracolândia” — which is not the official name of anything, and to tell the truth, I am not even sure, from reading any official reports on the subject, that it still deserves that nickname — and “the Nova Luz project” are all by an anonymous author whom I am tending to run across quite a bit, known as Dantadd.

Here is all that we are given to know about Dantadd by Dantadd:

The image “The Alpha and the Omega
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Blessed are those who do his commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the gates into the city.” — Revelations 22:13-14.

There are other Wikipedia authors who use the same symbol to “identify” themselves with.

A number of folks from Brazil Indymedia have tracked Dantadd’s activities as a Wikipedia “moderator” here. One claim they make, backed up with citations from the Wikipedia site: Dantadd has militated fiercely against the removal of contributions that speak favorably of “the pro-pedophilia movement.”

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