23 May 2011

Problems Continue

Problems continue in Brazil's mega-event world.

Stadia: Yesterday’s edition of Veja, a conservative news weekly, had as its cover a photo of the Maracanã  with the headline – "At the current pace, the Maracanã  will reopen 24 years late". The story behind the front page was not encouraging. None of the 12 Brazilian stadium projects underway are at the same stage of development as were the stadiums in South Africa. Not that it matters. According to Peter Alegi, a top SA 2010 researcher, only one of the ten 2010 WC stadiums is currently in use and the 50,000 capacity Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace drew an impressive 655 fans for a recent league match.

Corruption: The delays and confusion and lack-of-planning and stupidity and incompetence and outright theft and lack of professionalism in the planning for the 2014 World Cup has now been called out by Brazil’s biggest media outlets. This very same media have had their hands forced into a critical posture but never take the next step to calling for a total reorganization of Brazilian football. The CBF is one of the most corrupt and closed institutions in the world. It’s president Ricardo Teixeira was named as one of the greedy gophers selling his votes to Qatar. His father-in-law, João Havelange was also named in the recent corruption scandal.

Transportation: The transportation lines being crammed through Brazilian cities to attend to the short-term demands of mega-events will dislocate millions of people without attending to the real demands of Brazilian metropolitan areas.  The lack of planning in transportation was reported by Agencia Brasil the other day and comes as no surprise. In the above mentioned Veja article, one of the highlights was that the Brazilian government has already declared that 9 of the 12 airport projects will not be ready for the World Cup or Olympics. The Rio Metro saga is playing out poorly as no one can figure out where the new line 4 is going to go.

Forced Evicitions: Last week the UN was in town visiting the thousands of homes that have been partially or totally destroyed by the Rio city government to make way for these ill considered transportation lines. It’s a sad and tragic comedy of Olympian proportions. The hubris and callousness of the Rio city and state government knows no bounds.  According to the Estado do São Paulo newspaper the expectation is that at least 65 thousand Brazilians will lose their homes. The reality is that tens of millions more will be directly and indirectly affected. (Click here for a great story by Tom Phillips).

Transparency: Zero. The Rio 2016 Organizing Committee released the contract that the city signed with the Olympic Committee – 19 months after it was signed. The Brazilian chefão, Carlos Nuzman said that only newspapers would have access to the contract and that the general public would not be able to access what their democratically elected leaders have agreed to do with their money.  The laughable websites www.transparenciaolimpica.com.br and www.cidadeolimpica.com.br continue to function as smokescreens for the funneling of public money into private hands.

Privitization: nota dez. Henrique Mirelles, head of the APO (Public Olympic Authority) and former head of Brazil’s central Bank, has long used coded words to guide his public commentary. His latest was that the Olympics will usher in a new form of public governance.

For the first time I have begun to think that Brazil will not be able to pull these projects together in time for the World Cup. The lack of competency and organization and oversight is staggering and of continental proportions. There are so many moving pieces that have gone unattended for so long that it might be too late to create a functioning mechanism. The government should take over all World Cup operations now, nationalizing the CBF and the World Cup profits. The World Cup was awarded to Brazil in 2007, almost nothing has happened since then. The delays and disorganization serve to increase the cost of everything while necessitating a financial infusion from the state that will invariably be turned into private profit. It is important to remember that the WORKERS’ PARTY (PT) of LULA is behind these developments. Where mega-events are concerned, there is rarely any good news, just talking heads, hollow discourse, and momentary distractions from an increasingly harsh reality. 

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