04 November 2011


Orlando Silva is out of the Ministry of Sport and is under federal investigataion for shuffling cards under the table. Nothing surprising, but the top communist post in Dilma’s government appears to have been less than equitable in his redistribution of state funds. Silva has been replaced by Aldo Rebelo who was involved in some small scandals in the Lula government. Far from squeaky clean, Rebelo’s brother was named in the scandal that brought down Silva. It is unclear if Rebelo has ever kicked or thrown a ball in anger or what his qualifications are to head the government’s primary ministry that will deal with the World Cup and Olympics. More of the same, de novo.

After saying he was going to radically reduce the taxi fleet by some thousands of taxis (and had this put into the Master Plan) the Glorious Crown Prince of Rio has decided to increase it by six thousand. How does he do this? Executive decree. What is an executive decree? A handy tool taken from the box of authoritarianism. What is authoritarianism? The dominant regime in Rio.

Has there ever been a city preparing for mega-events, trying to sell itself to the world as a place of business and leisure that has an much violence and open gunfire in the streets as Rio? Yesterday, in Santa Teresa, there was a gun battle between traficantes and the Military Police after the latter arrested some of the former. The attack on Santa’s UPP is the latest in a series of battles between insurgents and the coalition forces and was probably related to the monthly payment scheme that the two sides had worked out (where the UPP bosses received R$50,000 a month from the traficantes). Last week in Maré, one of Rio’s biggest drug bosses was gunned down in an intense firefight. BOPE has been occupying a part of Maré for a couple of weeks as they prepare to install their headquarters in the region.

The state government appears to be massaging their homicide statistics to show that their public policies are working, but there has been a commensurate increase in “deaths by other causes” as well as disappearances. Between 2007 and April of 2011, 22.533 people disappeared in Rio de Janeiro.

One of the people who should not have disappeared from Rio is State Deputy Marcelo Freixo. Freixo has been under death threat by milicias for years, but recently those threats have escalated and he gone to London at the invitation of Amnesty International to give a series of lectures. Ever sympathetic to the allies of the Crown Prince, who had a sit-down meeting with the milicias about van transport last week, OGlobo mocked Freixo in today’s paper saying that Freixo really isn’t under threat but that his departure was “already scheduled”. From Freixo’s twitter page:
Não recebi qualquer contato de autoridade do gov do Rio para falar sobre as ameaças que recebi. Tratavam como se o problema fosse meu.
I have not received any contact from the Rio government to talk about the threats I have received. They are treating the problem as if it were mine alone.

Naked and repeated death threats to state representatives, open gun battles in some streets, a mayor that governs through executive order, insane traffic problems, rampant real-estate speculation… all made better by the announcement that FIFA is going to offer tickets for the first round of World Cup games between US$20 and US$30. The above link is an interview with FIFA VP Valcke, who is honest in his answers but after reading the interview I’m pretty sure that this is going to be a disaster of a World Cup in terms of mobility. His response to the reporter’s question about a Brazilian fan having to travel more than 10,000km to see the team play was “At least he will be able to say that he traveled.” As I described in an earlier post, the sheer number of air miles is going to overload the Brazilian system completely. My recommendation: stay in the north-east (Recife, Natal, Fortaleza) and paddleboard between the cities.

The Campeonato Brasileiro is headed to a dramatic conclusion. This is the most disputed title in some time with as many as 6 teams with a chance to win it. Happliy, Vasco da Gama is level on points at the top of the table (with Corinthians) four games to play. For the first time in recent memory all four of Rio’s big teams have a chance to win. Vasco’s path is the most difficult with games against Santos, Botafogo, Fluminense, and Flamengo.

Oh the Maracanã.  The contract process for the area surrounding the stadium was just suspended. There are plans to privatize it before 2013 and Eike Batista wants to use his toupee to cover the stands. The final supporting beam of the old roof has been removed and with the implementation of the UPP in Mangueira, the stadium is completely surrounded, as if it had just robbed a  case of beer and was running down the street into a BOPE nest. Hopefully the Policía Federal will have the courage to surround the band of crooks at the CBFdp, but they apparently weren’t able to get much out of Dr. Jowls when he talked to them the other day.
This is the last post for awhile as I will be attending Think Tank 2: Sport Mega-event Impact, Leveraging, and Legacies in Vancouver. The title of my paper for the think tank is The Mega-event city as neo-liberal laboratory. Here’s the abstract:

The production of sports mega-events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil is occurring within the context of profound political, economic, and social change. As Brazil’s economy and political structures have stabilized over the past quarter century, the country has assumed an increasingly important role in global affairs. The dominant trends towards neo-liberalism in the global political-economy are being reproduced within the context of a state structure that has traditionally occupied a central role in the national economy. While transitions to neo-liberalism at the national scale will take time to implement, it is within the urban context that agents of global capital are able to shape most effectively space and social relations to maximize accumulation strategies. In this sense, sports mega-events function as mechanisms for the implementation of neo-liberal modes of governance within urban contexts. This paper will examine the processes through which mega-events in Rio de Janeiro are using the city as an active laboratory for new models of neo-liberal governance that are accelerating the transformation of Brazilian society.

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