The news coming out of Brazil regarding preparations for the world cup and the olympics isn’t good. As I discussed in a previous post. hosting the olympics and other mega sports events typically does not turn out well for the host city and country. In fact, the results are often crippling financial losses and a host of other issues.
The Brazilian police and military have moved into the favelas around Rio de Janeiro in yet another effort to ‘pacify’ them, this time to try to secure the city before the start of the world cup in June. I bet that’s a reassuring picture to send the world and especially the thousands of tourists and spectators who will soon be pouring into the city. Imagine if you have a hotel room booked near Copacabana in June, and you read that the military is in bloody confrontations in Rio, using armored personnel carriers among other tools. Feeling safe?
The PR nightmare that the Brazilian government is suffering, and which is sure to become much worse in the months ahead, is happening alongside huge logistical problems in the preparations for the cup and the olympics. The situation has become so critical that recently the IOC sent down a special task force to help get things moving. It is appearing less and less likely that the country will have everything built, manned, and functional in time.
Reading these stories which are coming out almost weekly now fills me with dread and a sense of anguish for Brazilians. I have visited that lovely country twice and to watch this unfolding predictable drama and know which way it’s headed is sobering. The Brazilian people will absorb all of the costs and very little, if any, of the benefits of these spectacles. All of the sophisticated police state apparatus being constructed will stay in place after the olympics end. Any talk of the new surveillance systems being ‘temporary’ is pure rubbish.
When the final bill is tallied up in a couple more years, the government ministers will tell the people, with long, sorrowful faces, that “We made a mistake. But we must not dwell on past mistakes. Let us move forward. But in order to do so, we must pay back the loans to the banks and be responsible. So, we regret to inform you that taxes are being raised, pensions are being frozen and bank accounts are being raided.”
Remember, Brazil is no longer a small player on the world stage. She has an enormous economy (7th largest by GDP) and is a founding member of the BRICS organization. A serious crisis in Brazil will have global implications.