30 October 2012


The much-anticipated and little discussed privatization scheme for the Maracanã came out last Monday, exactly two weeks after the elections. “The plan” calls for the demolition of the Municipal School Arthur Friendenrich (the subject of Martin Curi’s 2011 book). The parents and principle are convinced that the government is waiting until to the end of the school year in late November to make their move. There is no clear indication of where the kids and teachers would be for 2013. The privitization was launched as a surprise for the general public (even for OGLOBO), but the school has been under threat since 2009 and has taken successful legal action against the state itself to militate for its permanence. Why does this school have to be removed, and if its removal is necessary, why can’t the Maracanã accommodate new school facilities?

The Museo do Índio is also slated for the bulldozers of a private consortium. The Museum, around for more than a century, an architectural treasure and site of indigenous identity, strength and resistance might be made into a parking lot, an walkway, a restaurant, or a storefront selling postcards of Brazil’s rich anthropological specimens. Does anyone know what the project is? Has this project been discussed with all of the relevant stakeholders? If the Museum can’t be reformed in situ, what alternative projects can be considered in collaboration with indigenous communities?

Want to train for the Olympics on the fine track at the Celso de Barros facility? You’d better hurry because the other day  representatives of IMX, (a consortium of Eike Batista and the USAmerican-based sport venue\ and entertainment conglomerate IMG) were seen walking around taking pictures. Probably unnoticed by the suits were hundreds of school children using the facilities, participating in public school Olympics, the Rio equivalent of field day. School kids using public sporting facilities in the middle of the day? Who ever heard ofsuch nonsense!? The track is one of the few Olympic-standard facilities in the state. If privatization will destroy recreation space, where and when are the replacement facilities being constructed?

The Julio Dellamare swimming complex is also going agua abaixo. The elderly are going to have to find a private club or a distant public pool to do their water gymnastics; they’re rightly upset that water therapy is not being valued and that their physical health will be negatively impacted by the loss of the pool. Olympic swimmers, divers and water polo players are going to have to train in Barra where there will finally be a positive legacy for Maria Lenk, coitada. There is a proposed reform for the Maracanazinho gymnasium, which will no doubt be banked by the public. This stadium also went under significant reforms for the 2007 PAN, and should theoretically, be adequate for 2016.  What are the plans here? Is another reform necessary?

As with most public meetings of this kind, the panel will likely consist of a table of government officials powerpointing the project, allowing for the public to ask questions and make comments afterwards. This type of public planning ensures a minimum of transparency, maximizes private influence and excludes the general public and civil society from entering the discussion about the destiny of the very facilities that they pay for and use (or not: Maracanã, closed for four of the last eight years).  

The state says it has no option but to privatize, because it is building something that it does not have the capacity to manage. Why not then privatize the construction costs as well? The numbers never add up on stadiums, so why limit the scope of the argument to economic rationality? The stadium complex is multi-use, always has been, and we don’t know how much it cost to run over the last 62 years because the government won’t let us in to look at its records. We have no idea where the old Maracanã would have fit on the World Stadium Index because the is no access to attendance figures, number of events held, or even how much water the stadium used.

 It is long past time to make the Maracanã transparent. Even the clubs are arguing for privatization. As ever,  the clubs and the CBF are hijacking the public interest.  The torcidas organizadas are pawns of the clubs, so there’s no help coming from the most organized fan sectors. What is happening is that mothers, fathers, their kids, the elderly, the disabled, Olympic athletes, indigenous nations, physical education teachers, fans, beer vendors, and  public sector employees  are gathering to create the Plano Popular do Maracanã. Collaborators, enthusiasts and critics unite!

10 October 2012

Violence, violence, violence...and more violence

You don't have to speak or read portuguese to get the jist of this video where the Municpal Guard of Rio attacks beach-goes in the form of a gang. It's incredible. This happened yesterday, October 9, 2012 because the Guardas apparently didn't like that some people were playing football on the beach. Who knows their motivations. Whatever they were, the reaction was right out of MMA or a crappy 1980s video game where you whack inert creatures with long sticks. International visitors, are you ready for this? Oh, and if you need to wash the blood off your cracked skull in the showers on Ipanema and Copacabana beaches, don't. It's untreated grey water, fecal coliform counts off the charts. Mmmm.

Remember, this is the "unarmed" police force of Rio. In Ipanema, on a Tuesday afternoon. As one of the mayoral campaign slogans quipped: Não Paz com Paes. 

08 October 2012

Rio para não chorar

viomundo.com.br photo: Girl beaten by Military Police in Porto Alegre

As if on cue, the Military Police in Porto Alegre showed us the extent to which the World Cup mascot will be protected. The obscene and absurd images nicely encapsulate what is going on to rip public money from the, er, public, and give it to multi-national corporations. After “Safado” was deflated by protesters, the Really Very Extraordinary Secretary for the World Cup in Rio Grande do Sul was most concerned that FIFA would give him a new Tatu-Bola. .
viomundo.com.br photo: Military Police guard a plastic armadillo!?!?

The details of what happened in the center of Porto Alegre (formerly known as the home of the World Social Forum, Participatory Budgeting, etc.) are a repeat of what we have seen all over the world. Peaceful protest by righteously indignant youths met by overwhelming police force that results in reporters being beaten and thrown in jail, cameras and cell phones broken, and unarmed people demanding their civil rights perrper sprayed, tazed, rubber bulleted, and bashed in the face by mindless thugs in service of private capital. Three days later the President went to Rio Grande do Sul to vote. The mayor was re-elected.

Also on cue was the Brazilian Professional Football Players' Union, who rightly pointed out the health risk of playing matches at 1pm on the bloody Equator! FIFA, of course, said that they consulted their medical committee which likely consisted of a Tatu-bola, Henry Kissinger, Jack Kevorkian, and Dr. Ruth Westheimer. In Brazil, lawyers are also called doctors, so perhaps there was some real confusion for FIFA. The best thing about the new stadiums is the air-conditioning in the VIP boxes. So cool, so quiet. Ooh, snacks!

Thouands form a human chain around the Maracanã. Gustavo Mehl photo. 
To resist some of this profanity, Marcelo Freixo brought together thousands of people on Saturday to form a human ring around the Maracanã. As Erick Omena and I were debating on Radio Nacional last Friday, the destruction of the Maracanã is a crime against culture, architecture, history, memory and football itself. Those who approve of the reform tend to think that “global tendencies” are always good, don’t look past the discourse of plenty and progress, and want to blindly follow a path of infinite consumption as a way to complete citizenship. Enjoy the freefall  into an antiseptic nightmare.  The full program is below:

Freixo, a heroic figure in the current political scene in Rio de Janeiro, finished second in the municipal elections but with more than 28% of the vote. This is a huge victory and bodes very well for the insertion of social justice into the blithering diatribes of the incumbent. Paes ran with Goveror Deputy Dawg Cabral to Brasilia this morning to kiss the hand of the President and to thank her for her support in getting him re-elected. The first campaign video that Lula did was for Paes and his dominance in the militia-controlled sections of Rio was complete. Given all this, plus his insane financial advantage and the inherent conservatism of Carioca society, Freixo's 28% is indeed a huge milestone. Tatu-bola para a frente!

Pathetically and predictably, the hegemonic mega-event coalition was consolidated on Friday with the re-installment of Carlos Nuzman as head of the Brasilian Olympic Committee. Now at the helm for more than two decades, Nuzman was unopposed in the “election” and received the vote of 29 or 30 federations. The only vote against? The Brazilian Ice Sports Federation. You could say that the Federation has been frozen out.

To demonstrate the degree of depravity and old-school Latin American Coronelismo going on at the COB, check out this excellent piece of reporting by ESPN – Brasil. The piece opens by showing COB functionaries breaking into the Ice Federation headquarters to steal documents. The way the funding for sports federations works is that the Federal Government, via the Ministry of Sports, sends money to the COB which then distributes money to the federations. To get the money a federation president has to be on Nuzman’s good side and use the COB accountants at a cost of R$4000 per month. If you cross Nuzman, the money gets cut and the COB invades your headquarters. When asked about this by ESPN, the Minister of Sport said he could do nothing. Delightful.

The “election” of Nuzman to another term as head of the COB also means that he will keep his post as President of Rio 2016. The re-election of Paes has probably calmed the nerves of the IOC and FIFA. Invariably, the scenes of Porto Alegre will be repeated throughout Brazil as public space is privatized, social services are cut and citizens’ rights are trampled so that more gigantic Tatu-bolas driking Coke can be thrown up in the 12 host cities. Please vote on the name for the Mascot or send me your suggestions and I'll put them on the voting list. 

Here’s a longer video of the Abraço no Maracanã. Congratulations to all who participated!

02 October 2012

Amijubi, Fuleco, Zuzeco e Safado

In addition to volunteering labor for profitable enterprises, a practice prohibited under Brazilian law for which the Law of the Cup made a generous exception, Brazilians can now participate in the trough-feeding insanity of the 2014 World Cup by choosing between three names for the official mascot.

Not satisfied with having the path to social participation opened by voting on the name of the World Cup ball, Brazuca (made in Pakistan where the skies are patrolled by drones), Brazilians are flocking to their computers to choose the name of the World Cup mascot. As FIFA explained in a press release, that despite their fervent desire to open name suggestions, there were certain legal complications but because “queríamos muito que os brasileiros pudessem desempenhar um papel ativo no batismo da mascote, decidimos realizar algo inédito e oferecer algumas opções para votação” – because we really wanted Brazilians to actively participate in the naming of the mascot, we decided to do something unique and offer voting options.

Uma delicia!
Thanks FIFA!!! I always wanted to have the chance to choose between three names for a mascot that will help cram the Tatu-Bola down our throats. 

The names are the best in indigenous and green-washing of a football tournament that will effectively step on the rights of the indigenous and destroy the environment. “Amijubi” is a combaination of "amizade” (friendship) and “júbilo” (happiness) that also happens "to resonate" with the Tupi-guarani word “Jubi”, which means yellow, one of Brazil’s colors! Perfect! I’m a happy friend to the Indians, I’m voting for that one! (Too bad the Museum of the Indian  next to the Maracanã is likely to be plowed under for the Cup).

But wait, “Fuleco” is a mixture of “futebol” (which I just love!) and “ecologia” which I also love as it is the fountain of all life. If I vote for this name, so FIFA tells me, I will encourage people to think even more about the environment than Carvalho Hosken, Odebrecht and Eduardo Paes combined. So many choices!

“Zuzeco”, well it’s just so dang Brazilian I might not be able to help myself. Not only does the “Zu” sound cool, it represents Azul which reminds me of the color of the seas of Brazils “magnificent coastline, its rivers and its beautiful sky”. Eco, well, why not just say it again because the more you do, the more you’ll believe that you’re participating  and not just wasting your time. If you hold the empty shell of the Tatu-Bola up to your ear after eating its tasty insides, you might hear the echo of the hollow eco-discourse.

Additionally, we’ve been informed by the Overlords that we will be assisting games on the Equator at 1pm. That’s right, kickoffs in Recife, Natal, Fortaleza, 1pm. There might be a good opportunity for someone to enter with the “official sunscreen” of the World Cup. Something durable, like the shell of a Tatu-bola. European television markets have dominated the scheduling of World Cups since Mexico ’86, sacrificing players and fans for the good of the game.


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