In the previous post, ‘Jumping over the Bandwagon, I had mentioned that it is really crucial that the people of Brazil rose up now because the world is watching the country in anticipation of the World Cup. Besides hosting the World Cup there are several reasons why we should be watching Brazil: it is the largest economy in Latin America, it takes the seventh position when it’s economy is compared to the rest of the world and it has arguably the best international soccer team in the world. If you look at the growth of Brazil in the recent years you will see that it has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world, according to Trading Economics, this is due to it’s export potential. The country benefits from its diversity in agriculture as well as manufacturing production. Not to forget the country has an enormous supply of natural resources, all these factors helps the country lure in foreign investors. But all this growth is worth nothing if the country is plagued by a weak infrastructure, a failing education system, corruption, greed, and inequality.
The Brazilian people know that the country is growing and changing; they currently have in office the first female president, Dilma Rousseff leading the country. So it is only natural that the people want their livelihood to grow with the country; this is one of the reasons why they are protesting.
The World Cup is going to attract the attention of the public and potential investors, which means growth for Brazil. But who is going to benefit from the growth? According to the article, ‘Grumbling in the Terraces,’ found at The Economist, one of the biggest demands made by the Brazilian people, is that schools, hospitals, and other public service facilities, reach the same building standards that stadiums currently in Brazil are reaching.
Two months back the country hosted the Confederations Cup, during that time, FIFA, took over management of the stadiums. Bringing in money, volunteers and order, many would argue that this was a good thing. I would agree as well but the problem is that it does not last, when the show is over no one cares. If you want to see how fast things change, here is a quotation from the same article mentioned above, found at The Economist:
The 52,825 people who watched Flamengo play Coritiba on July 6th were treated rather differently to the elites who paid top prices to attend the inaugural Confederations Cup match three weeks earlier. Gone were the neat concession stands, the hundreds of volunteers and the top-class facilities for media. Instead, fans and press had the kind of experience that is depressingly familiar at Brazil’s football grounds.
The internet didn’t work, the radio reporters were forced to narrate the game from the stands, and fans were tossed drinks from a big fridge rather than served from behind counters. Even getting to the stadium was difficult: whereas busy avenues were closed to traffic during the Confederations Cup to improve access to the venue, fans now have to run a gauntlet of cars in order to reach the turnstiles. The promised tramlines have yet to materialise.
Complaints are not aimed at FIFA, which during the Confederations Cup provided a level of service to match the ticket prices. Rather, it is aimed at the Brazilian stadium managers who seem to be incapable of providing the same treatment.
The quotation above shines light on one of the problems that surrounds competitions like the World Cup or the Olympics. These games/competitions bring money and build stadiums but they also have a dark side that negatively affects the poor people in the hosting country.
A Geneva-based advocate group, Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE), publicized in 2007 that it had an on-going three year study that covered seven past and at that time future events hosted by the Olympics. These events took place Beijing, Atlanta, Seoul, Sydney, Athens, London, and Barcelona; the topics covered included homelessness, crime, and cost of housing.
The study included very credible information which would be crucial in bringing justice to events like these:
For the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, 720,000 people were forcibly evicted from their homes and homeless people were rounded up and detained in facilities outside the city, the report said. Development and urbanization led to unaffordable housing.
Leading up to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, more than 400 families were displaced to make room for the Olympic Village, 20 families were evicted from the site of the Olympic stadium and 200 other families were displaced for the construction of ring roads. Housing prices and rents increased 139 and 149 percent respectively during the six-year period before the games and the lack of affordable housing forced low-income earners out of the city.
For the 1996 Atlanta Games, some 30,000 poor residents were displaced due to gentrification. About 2,000 public housing units were demolished.
Legislation was introduced to criminalize homelessness, the report said.Legislative measures also were introduced ahead of the 2004 Athens Olympics to simplify the expropriation of private property. Hundreds of Roma were evicted from their settlements.
Because the main sporting complex for the 2000 Sydney Games was built on surplus government wasteland, no one was directly evicted or displaced for those games. But the city’s gentrification caused housing prices to more than double between 1996 and 2003. Rents soared 40 percent, forcing many to move to the city’s fringe.
The quotation is from COHRE’s study. You can see that the in justice is something that is not new. Erica Bulman (2007) wrote in an article for USA Today, that COHRE’s same study had details about 1.5 million people being displaced in Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics. The media following this were few because we are talking about China (the countries censorship is ridiculous) this is why the upraising in Brazil is necessary; because the world is watching.
The world was watching South Africa but corruption being the blame for many problems in Africa discourages many from expecting any change in Africa. You know that excuse that some people use when the words change and Africa are put in the same sentence. But I will be the first to admit that corruption does run deep in the South African government but the same goes for the Olympics and World Cup organization.
In an article by Gary Anderson called, “South Africa to kick homeless off streets before the World Cup (2010),” written for Global Research. Mr Anderson wrote this:
More than 800 tramps, beggars and street children have already been removed from Johannesburg and sent to remote settlements hundreds of miles away.
And in Cape Town, where England face Algeria on June 18, up to 300 have been moved to Blikkiesdorp camp where 1,450 families are crammed in a settlement of tin huts designed for just 650 people.
Johannesburg councillor Sipho Masigo was unrepentant. “Homelessness and begging are big problems in the city,” he said. “You have to clean your house before you have guests. There is nothing wrong with that.
You can see that the fault is on both sides, both are necessary for the system to continue. Some of these stadiums in South Africa, which cost at least 30 million US dollars, were only used four times throughout the whole competition. If Sipho Masigo was homeless he would have a problem with being relocated instead of being taken care of.
The article, “Human cost of the World Cup (2010),” posted by Al Jazeera, provided more proof of the collaboration of local officials and the representatives of the Olympics and the World Cup. The article showed corruption in England, “In Britain, 400 people were forced out of the Clays Lane estate, which was demolished to make way for the 2012 Olympic Park in East London.” So far it seems like it does not matter where they go these people continue to prey on the vulnerable.
There was some positive news in the article posted by Al Jazeera (2010), the news is that Chicago ahead of the 2016 Olympic bid pledged to be the first city to disallow evictions. The city lost the bid of course but what a moment.
Give it all you got Brazil;Peace!
Anderson, Gary. (2010, March 28). South Africa to kick Homeless off streets before World Cup. Global Research. http://www.globalresearch.ca/south-africa-to-kick-homeless-off-streets-before-world-cup/18401
Bulman, Erica. (2007, June 5). Rights group: 1.5 million people displaced by preparations for 2008 Beijing Olympics. USA Today. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2007-06-05-3431055449_x.htm
Smith, David. (2010, June 2). Nelspruit’s brutal inequalities test World Cup’s legacy. The Guardian. http://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2010/jun/03/nelspruit-world-cup