So we are now into countdown. Welcome to Rio?

In 30 days one of the worlds most corrupt organizations the Olympic Games comes to one of the most corrupt countries in the world and in particular Rio de Janeiro – Cidade Maravilhosa where I have the good fortune to live in the residential area of Botafogo, away from the beaches but still in the privileged Zona Sul.
I say away from the Beaches; by that I mean the Atlantic beaches which are over the hill or through the tunnel which is faster and easier and definitely safer.
Botafogo has a beach or praia as does our neighbour Flamengo, which has just been zoned out of Zona Sul and into Centro. Minutae. The water off these beaches are toxic so even the most diehard locals don´t indulge. The new Olympic sport of sailing in shit will take place in this sewer.

So you might wonder how´s it all going? The Olympic torch is being trotted around the country; someone tried chucking a bucket of water at it without success.
The Army in Manaus completely disgraced themselves by shooting and killing Juma a Jaguar which was paraded at the Olympic Torch Ceremony.
A smiling jaguar known as Ginga is the mascot for the Brazilian Olympic team so this might well be prescient seeing the state of politics here.

Brazilian Jaguar

Photo Credit: the reknowned wildlife photographer Araquém Alcântara who is so disgusted that he has started a petition to protest this.
In many ways this shameful incident sums a lot of things up. Lots of show. No responsibilty and no fucks given.

So what really goes down in Rio de Janeiro? Is it as bad as all these things I read? Short answer Yes probably No. Unless you are poor and black in which case the answer is neither, it´s probably worse. As the city is being taken over an 85,000 strong secutity force the chances are that the gringoes won´t feel much pain apart from the inflated prices which they won´t notice and the traffic gridlock which is a feature not a bug. The holes in the road are an extra. Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon are all being sanitized. The tourists probably won´t even see a street dweller let alone his dog. (Greenwald wrote a very poignent article about How Dogs Forge a Bond with Rio’s Homeless That Is Life-Saving for Both)

Zona Norte and Zona Oeste are a whole different city.
This is Mare yesterday, a favela consisting of 17 communities which lies along the main drag to the Airport.
Mare at War

Photo Credit: Carlos Cout, war photographer. That´s right Rio de Janeiro has war photographers.

Brazil has the world’s ninth largest economy by nominal GDP, and the seventh largest by purchasing power parity. The city of Rio de Janeiro, has the second largest municipal GDP in the country with a population around 6,000,000 but has huge contrasts between the over 1000 favelas and the gated communities of Barra.
The police are part of the problem and not part of the solution. They are poorly paid, poorly trained, poorly equipped apart from weaponry.
According to many experts the Rio Olympics are going to be a complete disaster for human rights.

And what are the politicians and administrators up to? This story from a couple of years ago sums it up: –
The statue of the poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade on Copacabana beach was vandalized with spray-paint. The government asked for bids to clean it. The lowest came in at 25,000 Reals (then about $11,000). This was accepted, but before the experts arrived to do the job, a man came along with a can of paint-thinner and a rag and cleaned it in under an hour, for nothing.

But for now I would not live anywhere else.


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