17 June 2013

Tear gas is a magic potion

Tear gas is a magic potion. Those who launch it are weakened while those forced to inhale it are strengthened. The temporary blindness caused by the gas allows for thousands more to have their eyes opened, while police and politicians continue in their myopic pursuit of “order and progress”. The temporary dispersions provoked by tear gas bring together multitudes the next day. The bombas de efeito moral  (percussion grenades) erect a moral platform for protests while eliminating the legitimacy of the state. Pepper spray in the faces of children guarantees the pursuit of social justice in the face of criminal actions committed by those who are supposed to protect the common good.

The only way to explain what happened around the x-Maracanã yesterday is through video. This Al Jazeera piece by Gabriel Elizondo and Douglas Engle captures things nicely.


It is, of course, much worse than this as there is no way to effectively show the spectacle of consumption that was going on inside the x-Maracanã at the same time the state was violently repressing peaceful protestors. The World Cup project at the x-Maracanã has resulted in a sanitization of the urban space around the
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stadium where there are no street vendors, no public bathrooms and kilometers of concrete that will create blistering heat islands that will force fans into the stadium as quickly as possible. The sterilization of urban space comes with a commensurate sterilization of social actors – when the two things do not conform, in come the police to make sure that nothing gets in the way of the smooth delivery of the event.

A few weeks ago, Valcke (VP of FIFA) was again honest in his desire that FIFA have ~clean~ stadiums for the Cup. Of course, the stadium does not end at the end of the pitch or on the bottom side of the stands but is connected to the urban and social environments. So a clean stadium means clean streets and clean access and a clean conscious. Yesterday, we saw that this process of cleansing is going to be very messy.

Speaking of Messi, Rio`s mayor gave an interview last week in which he said that if Argentina won the World Cup in Brazil, he would commit suicide. There has been a marked increase in the number of Argentina jerseys in Rio as well as a facebook movement that has more than 10,000 followers.

The Copa das Remoções on Saturday was a great success. A video link to the story (Portuguese):




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