08 February 2013


For those accompanying this blog and the ongoing saga of uncreative destruction in Rio de Janeiro there is likely little I can report at this point that will be new or unusual. The horrors of administrative incompetence, corruption, and a generalized lack of concern for public welfare in both the public and private sectors occasionally converge to produce tragedies like the one in Santa Maria, RS two weeks ago. In Rio, we are simply waiting for the next disaster to occur. It is only a matter of time. Will the Sambòdromo collapse? Will one of the overloaded ferries collide with a super-tanker? Will a disgruntled member of the Military Police open fire on an unruly crowd? How many people will the BRT lines kill?

In addition to administrative incompetence and fetid cronyism, a collective lack of indignation, willful ignorance and cruel passivity drive the creaky machinery of Brazil democrapitalism. While the fingers can always be pointed in all directions, it doesn`t hurt to start at the top. Reports that indicate Lula, the soon to be disgraced former president, spent twenty million in public money on hotels in one year. Overspending public money on luxury hotels may not be as bad as having a personal kill list, but the repercussions of presidential attitudes across the cultural bandwidth are undeniable. Lula, Dilma and the PT have repeatedly shown that the old ways are the best, that collusion and corruption bring great rewards and that business as usual is best done between old friends.

This last is a lesson that Sergio Cabral and Eduardo Paes have taken to heart and employed to great personal effect in Rio de Janeiro. The brutal disregard for the public welfare reveals itself in dysfunctional public transportation systems, the militarization and privatization of public space, the criminalization of poverty, the unbridling of capital, the pushing of undesirables to the periphery and the pursuit of public policies that do little to improve the material conditions of those who contribute more than 35% of their salaries to the government. For instance, if you want to stop people peeing in the streets, install public toilets, don`t put people in jail. The ongoing fight for the Maracanã  is but one in a long list of obfuscatory collusions with vested interests that are feeding at the trough of the brothers Grimm.  Why no one raises their voices in the direction of Eike Batista is a mystery to me.

In order to gain the bare minimum of public benefit from public authorities a massive fight has to be waged against the very people that are supposed to have the public good in mind. This requires a strong, institutionalized civil society that is, in theory, supported by the government. However, the political zeitgeist in Brazil is one that privileges the private over the public, the individual over the collective, and the powerful over the weak. The turpitude of the Worker`s Party is partly to blame, but exacerbating the problem are the collective desire for shiny new trinkets and a thought bubble floating above the heads of the middle class that reads “it`s better than it used to be so that`s good enough.”

It could simply be that Brazil has raised expectations and is failing to deliver. I personally think that there is no point in comparing Brazil with other places and that things here will take decades if not generations to shift in significantly positive ways. The World Cup and the Olympics were a good opportunity for that to happen, but the chance has been blown.  Yet the constant search for affirmation from outside begs for comparison at the same time that Brazil, and Rio more than any other place, is chronically self-referential, protectionist and fundamentally conservative.

Rio de Janeiro is Brazil`s self-referential epicenter, never more so than during Carnaval. I used to think that the two week binge was a time when people could exorcise the demons accumulated over the past year while dealing with all of the crap that the public authorities and the city itself heap upon the heads of its citizens. It may have been, in the past, a time of ephemeral transformation, when inversions of all kind became the norm. Now, the party seems like just another opportunity to sell the city to itself and to foreigners while putting on a mask of happiness and openness that hides rapacious consumerism and a singular distain for the very people that make the party possible.

My suggestion for those here enjoying the party: Turn the band of the free Antartica hats around and write your own message. Consider it a form of gorilla marketing. 


2014 World Cup Rio de Janeiro Maracanã FIFA 2016 Olympics 2016 Summer Olympics Eduardo Paes CBF Copa do Mundo 2014 Rio de Janeiro Olympics Ricardo Texeira World Cup 2014 Vasco da Gama 2010 World Cup White Elephants mega-events APO UPP BRT Brazil football Flamengo Lula Orlando Silva violence ANT Aldeia Maracana Carlos Nuzman Dilma Eike Batista Rio 2016 Sergio Cabral 2007 Pan American Games Campeonato Carioca Corruption IOC Jerome Valcke Novo Maracanã stadiums BOPE BRASIL 2016 Brasil 2014 Engenhao Joao Havelange Maracana Policia Militar Vila Autódromo Aldo Rebelo Botafogo Henrique Meirelles Medida Provisoria Metro Revolta do Vinagre Sao Paulo Sepp Blatter World Cup 2010 forced removal Carnaval Elefantes Brancos Fechadao Marcia Lins Minerao Morumbi Odebrecht Porto Maravilha Rio+20 Romario Security Walls South Africa South Africa 2010 TCU Transoeste protests public money public transportation slavery transparency x-Maracana Andrew Jennings Argentina Audiencia Publica Barcelona Brazil Carvalho Hosken Comitê Popular Confederatons Cup Copa do Brasil 2010 Cost overruns Crisis of Capital Accumulation EMOP FERJ Favela do Metro Fluminense Fluminese Fonte Novo IMX Jose Marin Leonel Messi London 2012 Marcelo Freixo Maré Museu do Indio Olympic Delivery Authority Perimetral Rocinha Soccerex Transcarioca bicycles consumer society debt idiocy militarization transportation 1995 Rugby World Cup 2004 Olympics 2015 Copa America Banco Imobiliario Barcas SA Belo Horizonte Bom Senso F.C. Brasilerao CDURP CONMEBOL Champions League. Mourinho Complexo do Alemão Copa Libertadores Cupula dos Povos ESPN England FiFA Fan Fest Istanbul 2020 Jogos Militares John Carioca Kaka Manaus McDonald's Obama Olympic Village PPP Paralympics Providencia Recife Russia Salvador Soccer City Taksim Square Tatu-bola Urban Social Forum Vidigal Vila Olimpica War World Cup Xaracana attendance figures cities corrupcao drugs estadios football frangueiro futebol mafia planejamento urbano police repression porn privitization reforms shock doctrine taxes 201 2010 Elections 2010 Vancouver Olypmics 2013 2018 World Cup 2030 Argentina / Uruguay ABRAJI AGENCO ANPUR ANT-SP Amazonia Ancelmo Gois Andrade Gutierrez Anthony Garotinho Arena Amazonia Arena Pernambucana Athens Atlético Paranaense Avenida das Americas BID Barra de Tijuca Blatter Brasil x Cote d'Iviore Brasileirão 2013 Brasilia Brasilierao Bruno Souza Bus fares COB COI COMLURB CPI CPO Cabral Caixa Economica Canal do Anil Cantagalo Celio de Barros Cesar Maia Chapeu Mangueira Chile 2015 Choque do Ordem Cidade da Copa Class One Powerboat Racing Clint Dempsey Comite Companhia das Docas Copa do Brasil Corinthians Cuiabá Curitiba Dave Zrin David Harvey Der Spiegel Eastwood Edge of Sports Escola Friendenrich Expo Estadio Expo Urbano FGV Fonte Nova Gamboa Garotinho Geostadia Ghana Globo Greek Debt Crisis Greek Olympics HBO Hipoptopoma IMG IPHAN ISL Iniesta Internatinal Football Arena Invictus Istanbul Itaquerao Jacque Rogge Jefferson John Coates Jose Beltrame Julio Grondona Julio Lopes Julio de Lamare Knights Templar Korea Lei Geral da Copa MAR MEX Manchester United Mangabeira Unger Maracanã. Soccerex Marina da Gloria Mexico Milton Santos Molotov Cocktail Mr.Balls Neymar Nicholas Leoz Nilton Santos Olympic Flag Olympic Park Project Oscar Niemeyer Pacaembu Pan American Games Parque Olimpico Pernambuco Plano Popular Plano Popular do Maracana Plano Popular do Maracanã Play the Game Pope Porto Alegre Porto Olimpico Porto Seguro Portuguesa Praca Tiradentes Preview Projeto Morrinho Putin Qatar Quatar 2022 RSA Realengo Regis Fichtner Roberto Dinamite Russia 2018 SETRANS SMH Santa Teresa Santos Sao Raimundo Sargento Pepper Security Cameras Smart City Sochi 2014 South Korea Stormtroopers São Januário São Paulo Teargas Templars Tokyo 2020 Tropa do Elite II Turkey UFRJ/IPPUR URU USA USA! Unidos da Tijuca United States government Urban Age Conference VVIP Via Binário Victory Team Vila Autodromo Vila Cruzeiro Vila do Pan Vilvadao Vivaldao Volta Alice Wasteland Workers' Party World Cup 2018 Xavi Zurich apartments atrazos barrier beer bio-fuels bonde capacities civil society comite popular copa sudamericana crack crime dengue dictatorship estádios favelalógica feira livre fiador flooding freedom of information furos geral graffiti guarda municipal host city agreement identity infrastructure ipanema istoe labor rape riots schedule school shooting security segregation social movements stadium state of exception supervia tear gas ticket prices torcidas organizadas tourism traffic tragedy trash trem-bala velodromo wikileaks xingar