In Brazil, an estimated 1 million Brazil protesters filled streets, including 300,000 in Rio de Janeiro, to demand better public services and protest the massive costs of mega-events such as the 2014 World Cup in the face of Brazil’s widespread poverty and corruption. The scene turned violent. Police fired tear gas canisters and rubber bullets into the crowds, hitting destructive and non-destructive demonstrators alike. Protesters bled. In São Paulo, at least one died.
But now, the protests have faded according to the Washington Post. (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/dcunited/world-cup-2014-protests-in-brazil-fade-to-background/2014/06/27/9d2dce1e-fbdf-11e3-b1f4-8e77c632c07b_story.html)
How are we (as both football fans and non-fans) to think about the money spent by Brazil, the obvious income made by FIFA during the world Cup, the plight of the extreme poor, and the treatment of protestors on Brazil’s streets?
“We had no interest in harming the games,” said José da Silva of the MTST.
Mashable published an article at http://mashable.com/2014/06/25/world-cup-protests-struggle-brazil/ (Warning: Harsh language is used by those interviewed in this article) detailing some of the issues involved, but clearly the problems are not over with the next mega-event, the 2016 Summer Olympics coming up.
Most people would have a problem with how they saw Brazil’s protestor’s treated regardless of their views on street protests and their efficacy.
“We don’t have good health care, we don’t have good public education, and we don’t have enough public housing, so our priority should not be the World Cup,” said Maria Loudes de Carmo, 39, who sells clothes in Rio de Janeiro’s business district.
The World Cup produced the outpouring of anger over the $11.3 billion the government spent on the tournament (and even much much more in overruns and other spending not tallied such as security) when the once-booming economy has slowed, major cities are choked by traffic gridlock, public hospitals and schools remain underfunded and millions of Brazilians live in extreme poverty.
“We are like the Romans — We spend everything on wine and sport,” said Luiz Pellegrini, 60, an artist from São Paulo.
The government says the criticism has been misguided, but the cost of past World Cups and the extensive stadium renovations in other nations that sit half-empty on most days are an argument in favor of the poor and protesting.
While soccer is king in Brazil, and protestors struggle with staying home with TV turned off, USAToday reports that Brazillians are a cheerful people. Still, with the Summer Olympics looming, I think the struggles and discussions regarding a government’s responsibility to her people is just beginning. And the International Business Times seems to agree.
Brazil will be only the second country to get the events back to back, the first being the United States in 1994 and 1996.
“Since 2007, Brazil’s economy has collapsed, causing a number of complicating factors, not the least of which is that the government had to make up for millions of dollars in that did not come through.” – IBT, June 11 2014
The situation in Rio de Janeiro is so dire that the International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates lashed out in April, calling preparations the “the worst that I have experienced.” but unfortunately he wasn’t speaking on behalf of local government services, or the poor, but only in terms of Olympic preparation. Is it finally time for those of us who care, to start speaking out on these expenditures by nations that are still struggling to provide basic services to their people? When do we say enough is enough?