17 March 2014

Rio Twenty Something

Brazil is desperate for some good news that doesn´t come from its entertainment pages. The economy has been sacked by Dilma and the PT, the “pacification” program in Rio is proving that it does not, in fact, make sense to replace one arbitrary, militarized system of justice with another, the World Cup organizers are entering into full-scale damage control and the Olympic projects are so far behind schedule before they even get started that Rio 2016 might change its name to Rio Twenty Something.

The depressing state of affairs in the run in to the World Cup is making everyone quite anxious for the Cup to actually get going. It will be a huge relief to be able to talk about football for a month, though of course there will be protests and violence and human rights violations, arbitrary arrests, massive confusion at the airports, teams getting lost on the way to their hotels and the trumpeting cacophony of the world´s largest herd of white elephants.

We discovered this week that airplanes will not be adding to this noise. As a “security measure” all airports within a 7 km radius of WC elephants will be closed for up to seven hours before and during matches. Why 7 km? Surely it is not for security reasons as a plane could zip into a stadium as easily from 10 km as it could from 7 and there are not yet plans to have anti-aircraft missiles on rooftops. No, the reason for the cancellation of more than 800 flights is to prevent airplane noise from interfering with game transmission. At least there won´t be long waits to get baggage.

The Lord Mayor Eduardo II of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro decreed public holidays on all WC game days, cancelled all permits for cultural events between May 22 and July 18, and suspended all public works projects for the same period. That means that there will be no work done on any Olympic related projects, no improvements to city infrastructure, no hammering of any kind for two months. While it will be quieter, what will all of the workers do? Will they be receiving their salaries for staying at home with their kids? The banishment of residents from their own city is what is going to make the World Cup possible – just another form of accumulation by dispossession.

Has everyone fully swallowed the bitter pill of the Sochi Games? Watching the closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games last night, I could envision the map of Russia that served as the podium growing to
Putin´s message to the West
incorporate Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Sochi 2014 has served as a delightful soft power cover for Putin to pursue his hard power geo-politics. All the while the IOC sits on its pudgy golden ringed fingers, extolling the hackneyed virtuosity of the European aristocracy as a viable model for conflict resolution within the context of a brazenly cynical political economy of global sport.

The latest to add his name to the increasingly long roll of kleptomaniac shysters in Brazilian sport is Ary Graça, ex-president of the Brazilian Volleyball Conferderation and ex-president of the International Volleyball Association. Graça was caught out by ESPN Brasil reporter Lucio de Castro to the tune of R$10,000,000. Graça then renounced his two presidencies but will not likely face any kind of legal action (of course). The person Graça had received his position from, 2016 President Carlos Nuzman, said he was “surprised” just before he took a position on the ethics board of the International Association of Athletics Federations. Asked what more he was surprised about that day, Nuzman revealed his pleasure at seeing the sun rise in the East. 


Anonymous said...

yeah, you're right. favelas were way better off with drug trafficking control. it doesn't make any sense to replace it by an attempt to implement regular policing. toning down your disposition to shout against everyone and everything would really add some credibility to your discourse and avoid this kind of non-sense.

Christopher Gaffney said...

Thanks for agreeing with me! They of course were not better off with drug traffickers, but the situation is clearly not improving tremendously without changing the military dynamics of the city. The drug trafficking is still there, btw, but it hasn´t been tamed quite enough to keep things flowing smoothly for the Cup. I use this as a bit of a platform for venting, that should not come as surprise to readers. I suppose that the shouting just makes more noise, but then again, I have a job where I lay these arguments out more calmly. Not that I feel that I need to justify the use of HWE as a place to release some of my frustrations with what is going on in my adopted city/country, but to suggest that UPP is "regular policing" is non-sense. If that´s what is getting to you about the latest post, then perhaps you´ve got some more reading to do. Please, if you want to engage in debate, put a name to your comments.


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