06 June 2012

Dilma, the president


Dilma, the president, signed into Law the Lei Geral da Copa on Tuesday May 5th. This “general law” puts into motion most of the machinery that will make possible FIFA’s anticipated US$3.5 billion in profits for the 30 day football tournament in 2014. The law has been the subject of intense debate in the media and in Brasília, but no one has really questioned the principal workings of the World Cup.

This is, of course, a subject best treated in a book, not a blog, but we can take the Lei Geral as an exemplary “necessity” for hosting a mega-event. The laws of the land have to be changed in order to allow for private hands to more freely plumb the depths of private coffers. While this has been called a “state of exception”, or a condition of governing under emergency conditions that imply a loss of sovereignty, the truth is that the state of exception is permanent and that the implementation of  “laws of exemption” make exceptions to the exceptions.

If we think about, for example, how the United States is continually under some kind of existential threat that allows for the implementation of martial law (to put down occupations), rule by decree, renditions, extra-judicial killings, obnoxious and invasive security measures etc. and then compare those conditions/spaces/tactics with things like the “Global Pass” visa system that allows frequent travelers to skip through immigration, we can see where exceptions to the exception begin to emerge. Some people and institutions deserve preferential treatment and as such will be able to transverse and permeate space at will. 

This condition is a threat to human solidarity and collective enterprise as well as a really annoying, petulant requirement of the globalized blow-hards that foist these hubristic bacchanals on populations. Rio+20 is yet another exercise in the militarization, privatization, and elitization of urban space. Go away and chat over skype if you want to resolve something. It’s a foregone conclusion that no major environmental commitments will come out of this conference. Will Rio+ stop the construction of 20 dams in the Amazon and the impending passage of the new Forest Code? No. Will Rio+20 stop people from buying cars? No. Will all the international visitors get on airplanes and think they’ve done something to improve the world’s environment? Yes.  

And we’ll have the city even more occupied by the military than it already is. Lovely.

Mega-events bring threats that only exist in relation to the event, thus justifying the measures that are put in place to prevent those threats from being realized. Would London be putting missiles on top of blocks of flats if the Olympics weren’t there? Probably not, though the Keystone Cops nature of British security might just. Would the State Government of Rio de Janeiro invest billions in securing the Olympic Ring (O-Ring) if they didn’t perceive the favelas as a symbolic and physical threat to the city? Nope. The nature of risk as an exogeneously defined condition (that is, coming from the outside in) is worth thinking about as more and more cities foolishly line up to host these events. Not only do our “leaders” choose to expose the city to the threat of terrorism by making us into a juicy target, but we also take massive, incalculable financial and social risks that no one is overly concerned with mitigating. Nossa. 

Repeating a theme, the Maracanã has died and is undergoing surgery to be reborn as a shopping mall zombie. I will call it Xaracanã as Brazil’s richest man who always puts an “x” in his companies’ names is the frontrunner to win the 35 year management concession.

Not only has the Maracanã had its capacity diminished from 179,000 in 1999, to 129,000 in 2000, to 85,000 in 2007, to 75,000 in 2014, but the size of the playing field is being reduced by 15%, the number of VIP and hospitality [sic]  suites by a billion, and the air conditioning bill for those sweaty-pitted fat cats and their corporate-government ass-kissers by a trillion tons of CO2..

Did I mention that the current reform is going to cost around R$1,000,000,000? Did I mention that the 2006-2007 reform cost around R$300,000,000? Did I mention that that I wrote a book about this awhile back?

There is increasing recognition that the Maracanã should not be reborn as the Xaracanã. Protests, civil society, journalists, football fans and anyone else with a fistful of righteous indignation about the unacceptable trends towards the privatization of an iconic and fundamental public space are rising up against the privitazation scheme. Sadly, there does not appear to be other such movements in Belo Horizonte, Salvador, Fortaleza, Cuiabá, or Brasilia – each of which saw a historic, public stadium assinated to be re-constructed with public money to be turned over to private companies. 

I wonder what elements of the Lei Geral da Copa Dilma, the Marxist Revolutionary, would have vetoed.

Upcoming talks!
12 June – 9am -12pm Centro Municipal de Cultura, Porto Alegre - Participação da população na construção dos Megaeventos – impactos e legados
16 June – 14h30 Cúpula dos Povos, Aterro do Flamengo, RJ -  Direito Humano à Mobilidade: Crimes de Trânsito e Meio Ambiente



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