27 June 2011

Back in Action

After nearly two weeks away, much has changed in Rio but everything continues along the same trajectory.
A new UPP was installed in the Mangueira favela, closing the “security belt” around the Maracanã . Many communities are clamoring for the installation of UPPs, but some places are more critical than others to mega-event security and those receive military occupation first. Even O Globo can be heard to clamor for more rapid investment in urbanization and social programs to accompany the changing of one form of martial law for another.
Did you understand what our world cup symbol means?
 They're going to steal public money?
Eiii! Whose hand is this without a finger?

The Federal Government is trying to hide the real costs of mega-event construction at the same time that the tight relationships between Rio governor Deputy Dog Cabral, Eike Batista (the richest man in Brazil) and Delta Construction (recipient of more than a billion in tate contracts in the last 3 years) were revealed because of a helicopter crash that killed the girlfriend of Cabral’s son on the way to a private party in Bahia state. Batista gave R$750,000 to Cabral’s re-election campaign in 2010.
Delta is part of nearly all public works projects in Rio de Janeiro. These insider relationships and the closing off of mega-event budgets to public scrutiny because they are considered “state secrets” has not done much to improve public opinion about how, where, why, and how the tens of billions of public R$ are being spent.

On the good side, there is an increasingly coordinated public movement against the autocratic turn in Brazilian politics. On Tuesday (tomorrow) there is a rally in front of the Municipal Government to call for a CPI (Parliamentary Inquisition Commission)  to investigate the forced removal of thousands of homes and the destruction of communities and livelihoods that have been the subject of so much national and international media attention. As ever, Eliomar Coelho is at the front of this movement and is struggling to get a few more city council people to get on board. The majority of the city council is in the pocket of El Principe (mayor Eduardo Paes) and are undoubtedly making tons of money.

The international NGO Witness was in Rio a few weeks ago and produced this video about the removals in the Favela do Metrô, which is being destroyed to make way for a parking lot for the Maracanã. There are a series of videos about other communities in Rio that can be linked to from this youtube clip.


Troy said...

Welcome back Chris, looking forward to more great incite. What ever happened with the wordpress site you were building with your class? I still wouldn't mind participating in some way. Funny I was talking to a friend of mine today living in Rio. He's a cinematographer looking for his next big project. I proposed to him, why not go to the streets and capture some of those heart breaking stories along with some relevant Q&A's from both sides of the fence and roll it into a documentary. And I was surprised to discover that he really had no clue about what was going on and how the cities are going about preparing for these mega events. My question to you is, what is the general mood of the people? Those who are not being evicted from their homes and stripped of their livelihood. Is the media just selectively covering the developments, or is it that people who are not being affected just don’t care. What is your take?

Dr. Christopher Gaffney said...

Troy, thanks for the comment. Those who are notbeing stripped of their homes tend not to see the dark side of mega-events. When you are a home owner and real-estatge values increase without you actually doing anything to your home, that's good news. The general mood (that is, in the Zona Sul asfalto, the core of Rio's wealth) is that everything is fine, that the UPPs have imporved security in the city, that Rio is getting better and better. The other parts of the city people may be more aware of the negative consequences, but there is a general passivity amongst nearly all sectors of Carioca society. The media is EXTREMELY selective and the government and COB and COI and CBF and FIFA just repeat the same assinine discourses again and again, but actually believe what they're saying (having drank pre-natal Brazilian elite kool-aid). There may be a Greek-style reckoning in 2018 and once that happens, there will be very few people who will be able to say "I told you so".


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