28 February 2011

Photos: Corinthians (3) x Santos (1)

These are some photos from a trip to one of the Paulista clássicos with the people from ANT-SP. Most of these are self-explainatory. My ticket, bought from a cambista, was R$50 (face value R$30, probably purchased for R$15). He initally wanted R$70. It's not cheap to go to the stadium in Brazil.

Plaza Charles Miller and the walk to the entrance
Bandeira in waiting

Main entrance, Pacaembu. Opened in 1939. 

big, but not uncommon

Playing on Corinthians' nickname of "Black Chickens", the Santos fans circle the stadium with corn feed the night before the game.

Integrantes, ANT-SP

one of millions
under the bandeira

cold rain, getting ready to fall

A nation of more than 30 million crazies. Santos fans stuck in the far corner of the stadium. 

Under the narrow roof, six rows back. I missed the third Corinthians goal.

"Fans: sit in the right place"

Galinha nova, galinha grande

22 February 2011

Oh no, more APO...

Today, the Brazilian lower house is taking up the possibility of reforming Provisional Measure 503/2010 (MP 503/2010) that may or may not create a new state agency to run the 2016 Olympic Games. Rio's mayor, Eduardo Paes, has been expressing his dissatisfaction with the measure which will take much of the power over Olympic construction out of his hands and put more powerful and qualified people than him in positions of power. According to today's small column in OGlobo, there does not appear to be much chance of changing MP 503/2010 as it has to be voted on before March 1. If the vote is delayed, the MP will die and Rio's Olympic project will be delayed for another few months (not necessarily a bad thing).

Apparently Dilma, Paes, and Rio state govenor Sergio Cabral are willing to let the measure die rather than create the new state agency. The creation of the Public Olympic Authority and the Brasil Sport Legacy [sic] Company (or BRASIL 2016), was a fundamental piece of Rio 2016's bid. It has been nearly a year and a half since Rio won the Olympic auction. While I agree that MP 503/2010 needs to be radically reformed, there has been no public discussion of the MP in Rio and there will be no mechanisms for civil society to participate in the decisions taken regarding the city's future. There are R$30 billion hidden agendas in this process, but if MP 503/2010 does not get voted upon, it may be just the opporutnity that Rio's social movements and public defenders need to get insert themselves into the hurricane of creative destruction that is making its way to South America.

The TCU report from last week didn't have any immediate or noticable effect on the CBF or the organization of the World Cup. Today I published a o a slightly revised version of last week's article regarding the TCU's findings about Brazil's 2014 World Cup preparations at The Shin Guardian, one of the leading footy websites in the USA:

Coming soon: photos from a Paulista clássico, Santos (1) x Corinthians (3)

11 February 2011

World Cup FAIL

What is it about Rio de Janeiro that makes everything just a little more complicated than it has to be?  Is it possible that Jared Diamond’s environmental determinism has some merit? Why aren’t the football fans in this city totally revolted by what is going on?

O Maraca já era. Foto Raul Melo Neto.
The BIG NEWS coming out of the TCU (Federal Accounting Authority) is that the Novo Maracanã project is being carried off in R$1.5 billion illegal and opaque ways. There’s no surprise but to hear the same thing that I have been saying come from the very government that is financing the project is both refreshing and sad, as there is basically nothing that can be done about it. Why? Because the TCU has no power to initiate legal proceedings. Those must be taken up by the Ministério Público (Public Prosecutor). There, a very ambitious, brave, or stupid lawyer would have to get permission from her higher ups to initiate legal proceedings against the government officials in charge of the project. There is simply never going to be enough political cover for a lawsuit to be brought to bear, so while the TCU can make recommendations and use strong language, it’s very unlikely that the jeitinho is going to change. 

Let’s look at some of the details of the TCU’s report culled from a dozen different news sources (I have not yet been able to find Valmir Campelo’s relatório on the Byzantine TCU webpage, any help appreciated).
The report was firm in declaring that the Maracanã  contract process was completely opaque and that the budget “borders on complete fiction”. The TCU highlighted the fact that while the Minerão project in Belo Horizonte presented 1309 architectural drawings and the Verdão project in Cuiabá presented 702, the Maracanã presented 37. Thirty-seven drawings for a R$709 million project!?#!@$%!?  Fala sério. In the budget for the Maracanã, “multiple items are included multiple times, there are innumerable opportunities for inflationary costs to be written in, and items included in the engineering budget have nothing to do with engineering.” Pah! Ha ha ha! Tão de brincadeira?

This is what one gets when you take the same people that managed a 1000% cost overrun for the Pan American Games, give them more power, more money, less public accountability, and fewer transparency mechanisms. The TCU, which condemned Ricardo Leyser (head of the Pan construction projects and now head of the Empresa Brasil 2016, responsible for using R$30 billion [the initial Olympic budget, sure to double] to transform Rio de Janeiro forever), noted in their report that there is a risk of “added contractual costs, over-charging, un-necessary projects, and emergency contracting procedures that will follow in the pattern of the Pan 2007.” The report cites the case of the Nova Fonte Nova in Salvador, whose price went from R$ 400 million in 2009, to R$ 591 million in 2010, to an estimated R$ 1.6 billion in 2011. Tão de sacanagem, sim.

The TCU also confirms my suspicions about Orlando Silva’s renewed position within the Ministry of Sport saying,  “there are indications of a possible lack of accompaniment on the part of the Minister, a characteristic that will make controlling the projects more difficult.” Initially, Silva was nominated as a potential head for the APO (Public Olympic Authority, which will employ Leyser’s BRASIL 2016) but after some negotiation he remained in his post as MoS because the powers behind the powers know they can count on him to turn a blind eye to the proceedings.  

What the TCU report does, in addition to bringing to light what everyone has known all along, is warn the cities that they may actually be held accountable for what they are or are not doing. The very same TCU minister that produced this most recent report warned that Fortaleza is in serious danger of having their World Cup Host status revoked. The main issue cited is the forced removal of communities that are “in the way” of transportation lines designed to bring tourists from the beach to the stadium. As I have mentioned in other posts, the Fortaleza project is more about massive real-estate projects than anything else, as a massive residential complex is in the works right next to the suburban stadium. FIFA only ever asked for 8-10 cities, so there is a real possibility that one or two cities are going to fall off the World Cup map.

So what is going to happen now? The TCU has asked that BNDES, the Brazilian National Development Bank, suspend 80% of the financing for the Maracanã until SEMOP (Municipal Works Secretary), SUDERJ (State Sports Secretary), and Rio 2014 (the consortium of Rio’s big boy construction firms) can find a way to make their jogo-do-bicho a little more palatable to government authorities. BNDES has opened R$ 400 million in financing for all of the World Cup cities, a massive stimulus for the funneling of public money to private interests.

In the meantime, nearly all of the games of the Campeonato Carioca are being played at the Engenhão. Indeed, all of Rio’s teams are going to be playing their big matches in Engenho de Dentro until 2016. Once the Novo Maracanã  is finished, sometime towards the end of 2013, it will be used sporadically for clássicos in order to test new security systems and general functioning in the months leading up to the World Cup. After the World Cup, the stadium will undoubtedly suffer more investments in preparation for the 2015 Copa América and 2016 Olympics. Then, when Rio’s real-estate bubble bursts and the only people who can afford tickets to the Novo Maracanã are jumping off of their coberturas, who will go to the games? Not that the teams really want fans to go anyway as only 8% of their income results from ticket sales. (Last year, Flamengo offered tickets for R$10, filling the Fechadão and recording their highest receipts of the year, yet the club said that this was not a viable economic model because, “it’s complicated”) .

In other fun news that I culled from the TCU webpage, two of the major infrastructure works being planned for the World Cup have been paralyzed for lack of transparency in theitr contracting process. Rio Metrô has had their Linha 3 project stopped and São Paulo’s Garulhos (international) Airport has been halted. Here are the links: https://contas.tcu.gov.br/pls/apex/f?p=2207:4:4926169036331711::NO::P4_COD_OBRA:611

09 February 2011

Que transparência é essa?

I have been keeping track of the rediculous website transparenciaolimpica.com.br for more than a year now and there is still nothing on it to suggest that the public at large will be able to follow the disappearance of R$30 billion in the coming years. For example, if you want to "monitor" the Trans-carioca BRT line with a budget of R$480 million, follow this link. There's simply no information.
London 2012 is only slightly better. Follow this link to the final transparency report for December 2010. It will take a dedicated Scotsman to sort through this mess, but at least there is something to go on. So even though we can criticize all levels of Brazilian government for sailing the seas of cheese in relation to Olympic spending and accountability, it's the same wherever the Olympics go.
The Olympics are a horror show. Boycot now. Do not go to London for the Games, do not come to Rio. did you know that Sochi, host of the 2014 Winter Games, is Putin's old stomping ground? Do not watch on tv, do not buy the products of their sponsors. Give the finger to the Olympic flag. The IOC is a conduit for money from your wallet to those who are already way richer than you could ever imagine. This is organized crime on a global scale and by suggesting that the Olympics (or World Cup) could be carried off "sustainably" is to have already lost the battle. To see how this went down in Vancouver check out the recent issue of the New Left Review.

07 February 2011

Ocupações, demolições, e concentrações, oh my!

Sunday in Rio started off with the occupation of seven favelas in the center of the city. The expansion of the Rio State Government’s UPP project continues to successfully remove armed drug traffic from select favelas in the city. The popular consensus is that the UPPs are making the city a safer place but some lingering questions remain. The city government continues to remove favelas in the paths of the ill-conceived BRT lines and are meeting with some stiff resistance from residents. This is in complete concordance with the Olympic Plans for the city. And to complete the rational for the title of this article, the UPPs are concentrating drug traffickers and drug trafficking in other parts of the city and state.

OGlobo’s mission is not to report fully the story but to spin what the government is doing in such a way as to make it more palatable to the middle and upper middle classes. This is why OGlobo continually refers to the occupation of favelas via the installation of UPPs as “The War of Rio”. It’s not a war, porra! These are military actions to gain control of strategic areas of the city. The general hope is that once the presence of the state is installed through violence (or the threat of), that other state functions such as education, sanitation, water provision, and health care will begin to appear. So far, these programs have been limited to massively centralized, top-down projects. It will take years to evaluate the effectiveness of these new projects. The concentration of military force and urbanization projects in the Olympic Zones of Rio is compounding the already grossly unequal urban, social, and economic geographies of Rio.

The economic and geographic logics for the occupations are clear. UPPs function to install the state in the areas within the so-called Olympic Rings of Rio traffickers so that:
 1) New consumers can be added to the market. Form Ancelmo Gois today, “Mintues after BOPE occupied the São Carols yesterday, an elite troop of Sky salespeople (a cable provider) disembarked in the carioca favela. They set up headquarters on top of the hill…to take advantage of the presence of the law in the community that will put an end to the pirating of cable services.” Nossa senhora. So now, when BOPE goes into a favela they have embedded commercial interests? This is not the first instance of this trend. Light, the electricity provider, is giving away free refrigerators in the Complexo do Alemão, as long as the new consumers legalize their electricity service.  By pacifying the favelas, the state opens up new markets for service providers. That they act in such a concerted manner is reflective of the general logics of capital accumulation (insert your favorite David Harvey quote here:).

 2) Real estate values can be unlocked. The mere mention of the installation of a new UPP increases real-estate prices in the targeted favelas and their surrounding neighborhoods. (insert favorite Raquel Rolink quote here).

3) The new security regime of Rio can be broadcast to the world announcing that the city is safe for accelerated capital accumulation. While I don’t think that UPPs are only a Potemkin exercise, the ostentatious displays of power are not only for local audiences. What is not reported in the national media is that while the international showpiece city of Rio de Janeiro is becoming safer, the entire northeast of Brazil is exploding in violence. The cities of Salvador, Natal, Recife and Fortaleza will all receive World Cup projects and all have seen dramatic increases in violent crime in recent years. The massive investments in the South-east of the country not only increase geographic and social inequalities within the cities themselves, but extend this inequality to other parts of the country. This is one of the issues that we’ll be taking up in the Mega-events observation project.

4) Armed drug trafficking will become increasingly concentrated in other parts of the city and state so that the police will be able to more easily eliminate it. From p.12 of today’s paper: “Traffickers from the Complexo de São Carols and the favelas of Santa Teresa, knowing that the occupation was coming, fled to Rocinha, Costa Barros, the favelas in Caju, and communities in Enenho da Rainha…Residents of Santa Teresa were adamant in saying that traffickers had fled once the governor announced that the favelas would be occupied.” Ok, fine, they’ve left for other communities. But is that the end of the story? What is happening in the places where the traffickers go to? Are these places becoming more violent? I assume that a higher concentration of violent people with more weapons would make for a more hostile place to live. The map below would suggest the same. Is the government working to identify how the dislocations of armed and violent drug traffic to other parts of the city and state are negatively affecting hundreds of thousands of people in the same way that OGlobo crows about the numbers of people “benefitted” by the UPPs? Given that the demand for drugs is never, ever going to diminish, how will the government “regulate” it? Are they trying to move the sale of marijuana to the middle class kids of the Zona Sul? Why is “Toke” the sponsor on the jerseys of the referees in the Campeonato Carioca? (para os Brasileiros, em inglês, “Toke” quer dizer dar uma tapinha num baseado). Perhaps this explains some of their bizarre decisions.

5) To demonstrate that the city, state and national governments are inveting massively in public works that work for the public. However, the total investments in urbanization of favelas and the occupation of communities in Rio will probably only total around R$2-3 billion, while the spending just for the Maracanã reforms will be around R$1.5 billion and the proposed budget for the Olympics is R$ 30 billion. So while it is laudable that the government is finally putting some money where its mouth is, they are talking more to FIFA and the IOC than to the people, communities, and entities with whom they have a longer standing and more substantial contract.

The movement of drug trafficking and drug traffickers within Rio de Janeiro is making the coming Battle of Rocinha and the Battle of Vidigal even more complex than they were. These battles will happen either this year or next. Maybe before the Jogos Militares in July? (Will someone please correct their English on this site? Nossa. “Meet the history of Santa Cruz air base”.  I offered to help, but received no reply).  

In happier news, Vasco da Gama finally won, giving them 4 points after 6 games.

03 February 2011

Pan American Village apartments auctioned off, again

The sad legacy of the 2007 Pan American Games continued this week with the auctioning off of 129 apartments.  According to Valor Economico (see full text at the end of this article), the apartments were to have a minimum value of R$148k and a maximum value of R$486k, putting them above the market value per square meter in the region. Despite selling 95% of the 1480 apartments of the Vila do Pan after the closing of the 2007 Pan American Games, many owners refused to take possession of their new flats, filing lawsuits against AGENCO and Carvalho Hosken for the incompleteness of the project, the poor state of the apartments, and the various problems that occur when one builds thirty story buildings in a swamp (please see video until the 50 second mark).

Oddly, there was also an auuction scheduled for last April as reported by OGlobo. The information about the auction (concorrencia public 00013/2010) can be found here, and it's a bit complicated, but you could, for example find an apartment of 40 square meters for R$134,540. That's a tiny place for that money and given that the Vila is only accessible by car, is in the middle of a swamp, has no supermarkets or shops, and feels like a strange modernist off-world, it's not surprising that not many people rushed in to buy these places when they could get a brand new condo for the same price. In the April auction, 58 apartments were on offer, in this week's auction, 129. Things are not improving in the Vila do Pan.

I visited the Vila do Pan in 2009 and checked out some of the apartments there. They were spartan in the extreme, looking like they had been constructed in order to host athletes for a short time and then be destroyed. The apartment complex was not without social costs as many residents of the Canal do Anil favela were either forcibly removed by the city government or residents were bought off by Carvalho Hosken or intimidated into moving by the Municipal Secretary of Housing (SMH), which has the nasty habit of going through communities and marking the houses to be destroyed with spraypaint. Some of the Canal do Anil houses can still be seen from the Vila do Pan.

Nearly everything resulting from the 2007 Pan American Games is a small encapsulation of what is wrong with mega-events. The struggle for housing meets with billionaire plans for erecting Olympic Villages. The need for public places of sport and leisure conflicts with the erection of temporary gilttering palaces that quickly fall into disuse or are poorly located and constructed spaceships that actually reduce urban functionality, the need for cheap and efficient transportation is buried under the viagra-vodka-driven desire to tie these poorly planned projects together. But behind it all is real estate value. Big money for big-time constructors.

Carvalho Hosken, winner of the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey bid to build the Vila Olímpica has promised that their Olympic project will be different than the Vila do Pan. Why? "One, becuase C.H. will sell the apartments slowly. Two, because the Vila Olímpica will be near the Rock in Rio park and the football museum" (Um, can you say noise pollution? and how many times can one go to the same museum?). But wait here...the land upon which the Vila Olimpica is being built is owned by Carvalho Hosken and values at between R$6 and $700 million. The budget for the Vila Olimpica is R$2.5 billion of public money!!!! Vancouver's got nothing on Rio.

the naturalization of space

bladerunner meets monty python

full text from Valor Economico:
 Paola Moura, 02/fev

Legado do Pan-Americano de 2007 para a cidade do Rio de  Janeiro e exemplo do que a cidade não quer que se repita nas Olimpíadas de 2016, a Vila do Pan terá 129 apartamentos leiloados hoje. Os imóveis, que têm entre 60 e 100 metros quadrados e de um a quatro quartos, foram devolvidos pelos seus compradores. Atualmente, 1.480 apartamentos, construídos em 17 prédios, menos de 50% estão habitados.Quando foi lançado, em 2005, o condomínio fora considerado um recorde no mercado imobiliário nacional: na ocasião, 95% de seus 1.480 apartamentos foram vendidos em poucas horas. No entanto, até hoje, a Agenco - responsável pela obras - e a Caixa Econômica Federal enfrentam uma série de processos de donos dos imóveis da Vila do Pan por problemas na finalização da obra. O portal e um shopping center prometido na entrada do condomínio nunca foram  construídos e parte do terreno chegou a afundar por se tratar de área arenosa, mas danificando apenas a área útil. Cerca de 500 mutuários se negaram a receber as chaves e entraram na Justiça para tentar reaver a entrada já paga porque levaram um susto ao conhecer o saldo devedor na hora de ocupar seus imóveis. Entre eles o ex-jogador Romário que adquiriu 11 apartamentos no empreendimento.Os imóveis estão sendo leiloados com preços mínimos entre R$ 148 mil e R$ 486 mil. Segundo o leiloeiro João Emília, os preços estão até 50% mais baratos que o mercado. No entanto, numa rápida pesquisa nos sites de vendas de imóveis, há apartamentos com a mesma metragem, numa área próxima, Avenida Abelardo Bueno, onde está o Rio2, com preços inferiores ao do leilão.A Carvalho Hosken, empresa responsável pela construção dos 44 prédios, com 2.800 apartamentos, da Vila Olímpica promete não repetir o exemplo do Pan. "Nós já construímos dois 
 bairros dentro da Barra da Tijuca, temos experiência", afirma o assessor da presidência da empresa, Henrique Caban. Os dois bairros são o Rio 2 e a Península. O último, ainda em expansão mas que vai chegar a ter 64 edifícios com imóveis de nível médio e alto luxo, é considerado um sucesso de vendas na cidade."Ainda estamos montando a estratégia. Mas não vamos vender tudo de uma vez, para não depreciar o mercado", conta Caban. Como a entrega tem de ser feita até o início de 2016, a Carvalho Hosken planeja colocar os apartamentos à venda aos poucos, como vem fazendo na própria Península.Para Caban, diferentemente da Vila do Pan, que fica em uma área degradada e sem atrativos, a área da Vila Olímpica será valorizada porque lá serão construídos o Parque Olímpico Rock in Rio, que será permanente, e o Museu do Futebol, entre outros equipamentos e onde haverá a expansão do Riocentro. Do cerca de um milhão de metros quadrados da  Vila, apenas 400 mil metros terão edificações. O valor total do empreendimento está orçado em R$ 2,5 bilhões e o terreno, de propriedade da Carvalho Hosken, está avaliado entre R$ 600 milhões e 700 milhões. 

02 February 2011

Head of Autoridade Publico Olimpico announced; Nova Fonte Nova underway

In all of the shuffling of positions that occured with the change of government in Brazil, the ever-confused Minister of Sport Orlando Silva couldn't quite figure out where he was going. The CBF wanted him to stay in his current position as did the Communist Party of Brazil (PCdoB). If you find it shocking that Brazil has a cabinet position filled by a nominal communist, don't be, Mr. Silva is as red as an international finance manager.

The Dilma government decided to maintain Silva in his post at the MoS and has indicated Henruque Meirelles to occupy the top position in the APO. As president Mirelles will make R$22,000 a month and direct a budget of R$30 billion. His qualifications? For the past eight years Meirelles has directed Brazil's Central Bank, winning IstoE's 'Brazilian of the Year' award in 2009. As with nearly all Latin American central bank directors since the Chilean coup in 1973, Meirelles has passed through a conservative USAmerican institution (Harvard) and was the president and c.o.o. of Bank Boston.

There are some conflicts ahead for Mr. Meirelles. The APO is comprised of representaives from three spheres of government, federal, state, and city. The state governor of Rio appears to be on board but the mayor, Eduardo Paes has openly resisted the scope of power of the APO to direct the Olympic building projects. Yesterday he said that he wants "someone smaller" in the position, ostensibly so that Paes himself can have more control over what is going on. This will be an intersting clash of egos. It's unclear to everyone how the APO is going to function, where they will set up shop, who is going to fill the 400 odd positions, and the amount of authority they will wield over urban planning in Rio. We can bet that there will not be much in the way of transparency mechanisms as nearly a year and a half after the seletion of Rio as host of the 2016 Olympics, the website dedicated to Olympic transparency www.transparenciaolimpica.com.br has NO USEFUL INFORMATION.

In my other attempts to gain access to information about the organization of the World Cup and in particular the Maracanã project, I have been met with a vast and stunning silence. I will attempt in the near future to bang on the doors of the SUDERJ archives while continuing to call and email in order to get access to someone or something that will shed light on the inner workings of the World Cup project. The SUDERJ website is good for a laugh.

Which brings me to the World Cup. Four years after the selection of Brazil to host the 2014 tournament there is no didicated website. The CBF website (which only recently has started to work in any browser other than Explorer) has a link that takes one to the FIFA website. On the FIFA site, there are pictures of flaccid, pale middle aged men shaking hands and smiling. There is no public transparency mechanism for the World Cup, and it is increasingly difficult to figure out where money is coming from, where it is going, what the associated infrastructure projects are and who is in charge of anything. The media are as complicit in this obfuscation as as anyone, as I pointed out in my damning critique of IstoE last week.

Another example of the faux-journalism related to these projects came in yesterday's OGlobo. Buried in the middle of the sports section was a full page treatment of the Nova Fonte Nova in Salvador. The stadium was demolished last year over the protests of several residents' groups. There's an excellent article about why it was wrong to demolish the stadium, highlighting its historical function in the city, its multi-purpose utility, and the false and flawed logic employed by the government in order to build something to attend to the sick desires of the FIFA-mafia. Oh well.

The OGlobo piece talks about the public-private-partnership between two of Brazil's largest civil construction firms, OAS and Odebrect, the amount of public financing (R$300 million), the money spent on demolition (R$67 million), but does not mention how much private capital has gone into the project. The stadium will, you will be plesed to hear, "have 31 quiosks, 11 elevators, a panoramic restaurant, a football museum, and space for lectures, shows and business meetings." They might even have a football team play there, though nothing is confirmed. And of course, all of this destruction and construction is actually good for the environment as it will "utilze natural [sic] wind, recycle rain water and sewage, and will (somehow) preserve the environment around the stadium."

The second section of the report was not so glowing as the majority of the urban infrastructure projects planned for Salvador have not lept off the paper and into the lives of residents. The shocking thing about this article was the official statement that Salvador is expecting 70,000 tourists for the World Cup. That's it? 70,000? Surely they get more than that for Carnaval...The planned investments in urban infrastructure, which are needed, amount to R$750 million. But who is directing these projects? Will these projects only attend to the needs of the 70,000 visitors, or to the city at large, creating a more integrated urban transport system? How much will these (so far) phantom projects cost? As a demonstration of the logics behind the projects, the coordenator of the Salvador World Cup said, "It's no good to talk about exact values because the projects will be distributed between various municipal departments and some projects are only related to urban dynamics, and won't be considered part of the World Cup costs?"

Indeed, it is no good to talk about exact values, because these values are going to be hidden from public view. According to the vast majority of press reports, the World Cup and Olympics are responsible for EVERYTHING that will happen in Brazil through 2016. However, when it comes time to talk about the ways in which this will happen logistically or where the money will come from or how those money trails will be followed and accounted for or who will be responsible for delivering the finished product and ensuring that public money is spent in the interest of the public, the answer is always "não dá".


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