09 November 2012

Audiência não pública

As anticipated, the government showed up to complete its obligation of realizing at least one audiência pública. Because at no stage of the project had it been discussed with the public, and because it is so clearly wrong in so many ways, an intense resistance to this autocratic schema developed. Yesterday, the idea of those opposed to the privatization of the Maracanã (and to the lack of democratic process) was to impede the audiência from being realized on legal and moral grounds. If the government could not demonstrate that it had performed (or staged) a public hearing then the contracting process for privatization could not begin. Hundreds of people comprised a very loud, unified chorus and tried to bring a halt to the Potempkinish proceedings.

The amount of debris that rained down on the heads of the government officials was enough that security forces used an umbrella as a raised shield. Someone threw a bag of $hite towards the table, signaling the general degree of indignation. As the 500+ crowd hollered down the government, the microphone went to a very long line of individuals, who harangued the government even more. There was then a mass exodus that toppled dozens of rows of plastic chairs, and left the government calling the names of those who had just abandoned their show. At the end of the hall, people lit flares and chanted: “Puta que pariu, é a maior robaleira do Brasil”. (Son of a Whore, it’s the biggest theft in Brazil!)

After the confusão, the head of Rio de Janeiro’s state construction authority, Regis Fichtner said that he “refused to cancel the audiencia publica because there is nothing less democratic that restricting people’s right to speak.” Unfortunately, he wasn't prepared to listen which is why the crowd had resulted to throwing trash on his head in the first place. 

I could no longer tolerate the scene when Fichtner began to repeat the litany of reasons why the Maracanã had to be reformed, why it had to be privatized, why this was all for the good of the people. He arrived at this final point by rejecting the legitimacy of those who spoke, at the event that he convened, by intoning: “they do not speak for the people.”

This was a keenly important moment in the history of the Maracanã. An unresponsive government sat and took abuse from the people whose interests they purportedly represent. There was no one at the table taking notes about what was being said, no indication that they heard anything at all. A mood of tyrannical boredom and indifference radiated from the head table. When the waves of abuse passed, they went about completing their legal obligation, and the audiência foi realizada. O Globo called it “one more step towards the realization of the concession.”

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