Special zones of social interest in the political and health crisis: disputes related to the right to housing and to the city in Salvador, Brazil

Liana Silvia de Viveiros e Oliveira, Adriana Nogueira Vieira Lima, Ernesto Pereira Galindo



The World Health Organization has declared that the COVID-19 pandemic is a health emergency and recommended social distancing as a measure to contain the spread of the disease. This directive invokes the fundamental human right to housing while, contradictorily, exposing the restrictions to exercising this right in self-built territories. In order to better understand this relationship, this article recalls the pathways of the Special Zone of Social Interest (Zona Especial de Interesse Social: ZEIS) in Salvador, a municipality which, alongside the municipalities of Recife and Belo Horizonte, was a precursor for the instrument’s design. It also examines ZEIS implementation within the context of the political and health crisis, and the dismantling of urban policy in Brazil, corresponding to the expansion of property borders into these areas. Given the urgency triggered by the pandemic, it aims to analyse the values and meanings attributed to the ZEIS, the instrument’s legal affirmation and support processes, and the attributes that could interfere with its scope of implementation. This is a qualitative study, backed by documentary research and bibliographic review and supported by geo-processing techniques. The results provide evidence of the validity and importance of the instrument in disputes for the symbolic and material strengthening of territories, at a point that acknowledges the instrument’s emancipatory hermeneutics, constructed through the praxis of social agents in the territories and in the state sphere.


Special Zones of Social Interest. Right to Housing. Right to the City. COVID-19. Health crisis.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.12957/rdc.2021.54868

Direitos autorais 2022 Revista de Direito da Cidade

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