Brazil’s World Cup courts disaster as delays, protests and deaths mount

February 18, 2014

Jonathan Watts  - The Guardian, 2/15/2014

Another week, another storm of teargas and rubber bullets at a World Cup host city in Brazil. This time, the clashes were in the capital, Brasília, where 15,000 protesters from the Landless Workers Movement marched from the Mané Garrincha football stadium to the Palácio do Planalto state office of the president, Dilma Rousseff.

Riot police using batons and teargas fought off several attempts to invade the building. The demonstrators threw stones and tore down railings which they used as weapons. In the fierce fighting, 12 protesters and 30 police officers were injured.

Rousseff was not in her office at the time, but this latest explosion of unrest is yet another headache for the president in what is supposed to be one of the most triumphant, feelgood years in the nation’s history.

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Thousands gather for protests in Brazil’s largest cities

June 18, 2013

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 06/17/2013

Protesters showed up by the thousands in Brazil’s largest cities on Monday night in a remarkable display of strength for an agitation that had begun with small protests against bus-fare increases, then evolved into a broader movement by groups and individuals irate over a range of issues including the country’s high cost of living and lavish new stadium projects.

The growing protests rank among the largest and most resonant since the nation’s military dictatorship ended in 1985, with demonstrators numbering into the tens of thousands gathered here in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, and other large protests unfolding in cities like Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Curitiba, Belém and Brasília, the capital, where marchers made their way to the roof of Congress.

Sharing a parallel with the antigovernment protests in Turkey, the demonstrations in Brazil intensified after a harsh police crackdown last week stunned many citizens. In images shared widely on social media, the police here were seen beating unarmed protesters with batons and dispersing crowds by firing rubber bullets and tear gas into their midst.

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Brazil police violently crack down on nationwide protests

June 17, 2013

Brett Wilkins – Digital Journal, 06/17/2013

While the world’s attention is focused on protests in Turkey and Syria’s civil war, a growing wave of nationwide protests in Brazil has been met by a violent police crackdown.
For the better part of the past two weeks, Brazilians have taken to the streets to display their discontent and despair over a host of social, economic and political ills. It all started in the nation’s two largest cities, São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, where residents angry about a 10-cent bus and subway fare increase turned out in the thousands to voice their indignation.
The Rio Times reports that 20,000 people demonstrated in São Paulo and as many as 10,000 took to Rio’s streets for Thursday’s protests.
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Brazil World Cup protests: Brazilians demonstrate against high cost of hosting tournament

June 17, 2013

Tale Azzoni – Huffington Post, 06/15/2013

BRASILIA, Brazil — About 1,000 protesters complaining about the high cost of staging the World Cup demonstrated in front of the National Stadium in Brasilia just hours before Brazil played Japan in the opening match of the Confederations Cup on Saturday.

Riot and mounted police were called in to keep demonstrators from getting too close to the stadium as thousands of fans arrived for the inaugural match in the nation’s capital. The protesters started chanting and marching about a mile away from the venue.

Tear gas bombs were thrown by the police and pepper spray was used to try to control the protesters as they moved near the venue. Local media said police later shot rubber bullets to disperse the crowd and at least two people were injured, including a 16-year-old student. Authorities said 15 people were arrested.

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Brazil world cup puzzle is what to do with stadiums after event

June 14, 2013

Tariq Panja, Raymond Colitt & Chris Spillane – Bloomberg, 06/13/2013

Anticipation in Brazil for next year’s World Cup is being subdued by concern over what to do with many of the 12 stadiums hosting matches after soccer’s biggest tournament ends.

Delays and cost overruns mean that by the time the first ball is kicked in just under a year, the bill for the new and refurbished venues probably will exceed the government’s latest estimate of 7 billion reais ($3.3 billion). Including urban construction, Brazil is spending 30 billion reais on World Cup projects.

In a country where soccer is the biggest draw, the outlay of mostly public money is being used to fulfill the host’s pledge to make it an event “for all of Brazil.” Constructing stadiums in cities including Brasilia, Cuiaba and Manaus, none of which has a team in the top two domestic leagues, may leave little-used legacy arenas.

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Redeemers of a macho society

June 13, 2013

The Economist, 06/15/2013

RIO DE JANEIRO is proof that even nature’s most lavish blessings cannot guarantee success. Rio lost its position as Brazil’s political capital to Brasília in 1960 and its status as the country’s business capital to São Paulo over the following decades. Gang wars and poor infrastructure have battered its tourist industry. The 2016 Olympic games represent the city’s best chance of reversing decades of decline. But is it capable of seizing the chance? That question towers over Rio like the rhetorical equivalent of the statue of Christ the Redeemer.

The person who will do more than anybody else to answer it is the head of the Municipal Olympic Company, Maria Sílvia Bastos Marques. She has the perfect background to lead an organisation that straddles the public and private sectors: a former boss of a steel company and director of Brazil’s two biggest companies, Petrobras and Vale, she has also held numerous positions in local government and served as the first female director on the board of Brazil’s huge development bank, BNDES. And she has a ready answer to any question.

What about logistics? She points to a map that shows the dedicated bus lanes and metro lines that will bring the scattered population to the games. What about Rio’s Byzantine government (power is divided between federal, state and municipal government, and the armed forces own huge chunks of land in the city)? She seems to know everyone who matters. What about crime? She notes that this is not her responsibility but quotes figures to show that the new “pacification” police are doing a good job. Ms Bastos Marques says she wants the games to transform her native city, speeding up projects that have been on the books for years—such as a 30-year-old scheme to upgrade the port district—to lay the foundations for long-term growth.

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Brazil’s most expensive new stadium faces its first test

May 24, 2013

Mark Byrnes – The Atlantic, 05/24/2013

Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia has begun its second life. With workers hurrying to finish the stadium in time for next month’s FIFA Confederations Cup, Brazil’s capital city’s major stadium had its official inauguration last weekend.

The original Garrincha Stadium was built in 1974, and was considered outdated and incapable of serving the country’s upcoming international sporting events long before being torn down in 2010. It is being rebuilt for $750 million, not only the most expensive stadium of the 12 being erecting in advance of the 2014 World Cup, but the most expensive such project in the country’s history.

Plagued by delays and cost overruns, local officials say the stadium, which is designed to hold more than 70,000 fans, is 97 percent done. Only about 20,000 people were allowed to attend Saturday’s inauguration event. The event itself didn’t go as smoothly as hoped; the Associated Press reported complaints from those in attendance about restroom doors without locks, visible water leaks and poor cell phone reception. The price tag has upset a lot of Brazilians too, amid worries it will struggle to find consistent use after 2014 since Brasilia doesn’t have a team in the country’s top soccer leagues.

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World Cup 2014: Brazil opens 72,900 seat National Mane Garrincha Stadium

May 21, 2013

Ian Rodgers – Bleacher Report, 05/21/2013

The preparations for the World Cup finals in Brazil next year are gathering at pace as the country opened its latest stadium in the capital, Brasilia.

The new 72,800-seater National ManéGarrincha Stadium was unveiled on Saturday ahead of its first match, the Federal District league championship final between Brasilia and Brasiliense.

The new stadium is the fifth to be completed and handed over in readiness for the World Cup finals next year following the re-opening of the iconic Maracana Stadium last month, as the Daily Mail reported.

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Brazilian architect Niemeyer to be buried in Rio

December 7, 2012

AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/07/2012

Brazil’s beloved architect Oscar Niemeyer will be buried in Rio de Janeiro.

The 104-year-old Niemeyer’s body is being viewed at the City Palace in Rio, and a private funeral will be held later Friday.

Niemeyer designed the government buildings in the Brazilian capital of Brasilia, much of the United Nation’s complex and countless other works in several nations.

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Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer hospitalized

October 17, 2012

AP/Boston.com, 10/17/2012

Renowned Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer was hospitalized in Rio de Janeiro’s Hospital Samaritano, but his doctor said Wednesday that he was ‘‘fine’’ and in stable condition.

Niemeyer, 104, entered Rio’s Hospital Samaritano on Saturday, according to spokeswoman Bruna Tenorio.

The architect’s doctor, Fernando Gjorup, said by telephone that Niemeyer ‘‘is fine.’’

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