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House of Mercy

Atualizado: 12 de dez. de 2019

Former public hospital in Manaus, the Santa Casa building is abandoned and an example of neglect in the current political and historical scenario. Photos: Luiz Maudonnet

Text by Tiago Queiroz and Luiz Maudonnet

The Santa Casa de Misericórdia, the historic public hospital of Manaus, in the state of Amazonas, is in ruins. What was once one of the best hospitals in the region, today is a renegade and forgotten space, occupied by rubble and neglected individuals who frequent the area. Between 2015 and 2019, 8 homicides were recorded on the grounds of the old building.

In 2004, the state government, at the time, cut the budget transfers essential for the maintenance of the institution and, for lack of resources, the hospital was forced to close the doors, closing the activities.

Since then, a wave of depredation of the property has spread, in the absence of surveillance. Its roofs, frames, wiring and everything that could be sold, was stolen.

In 2014, the Santa Casa building was declared a national cultural heritage site by the IPHAN (National Historical and Artistic Heritage Institute). Instead of helping to maintain the property and prevent its deterioration, there was the opposite effect, since now its preservation was in possession of an omissive government, and private initiative prevented from buying the property and renovating it.

Surrounded by rubble, every sunday a group of Catholics holds a mass in the old chapel of the hospital. The religious carry all the necessary structure, from candles and Christian ornaments to the speakers, and in the end everything is dismantled and taken away. Such an event gives the measure of the historical value that the Santa Casa has for the city population.

The Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Manaus and the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro are examples of neglect within the current scenario, where thousands of historic buildings scattered throughout Brazil are abandoned due to the lack of effective public policies and an efficient regulatory system and, therefore, risk collapsing, disappearing, taking along all its history and importance.

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