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!

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