Sepherd of the City’s rebirth, Rio’s mayor feels the strains, too

March 3, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 2/28/2014

IN his fits of rage, Eduardo Paes, the mayor of Rio de Janeiro, has thrown a stapler at one aide. He threw an ashtray at another. He berated a councilwoman in her chambers, calling her a tramp. Stunning diners at a crowded Japanese restaurant where he was being taunted by one constituent, a singer in a rock band, he punched the man in the face.

While Mr. Paes, 44, has apologized to the targets of his wrath after each episode, he adds that he is under a lot of stress. Normally clocking 15-hour days as he tears up and rebuilds parts of Rio in the most far-reaching overhaul of the city in decades, Mr. Paes is finding that consensus over his plans is elusive.

“Don’t ever in your life do a World Cup and the Olympic Games at the same time,” Mr. Paes recently said at a debate here on Rio’s transformation, making at a stab at gallows humor over the street protests that have seized the city over the past year. “This will make your life almost impossible.”

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Fury and frustration in Brazil as fares rise and transport projects flounder

February 6, 2014

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 2/6/2014

At 5am every day, Paula Elaine Cardoso begins her long commute from the poor periphery of Rio de Janeiro to her care worker’s job in the upmarket resort of Copacabana.

After a walk to the bus stop, she has to wait about 40 minutes to get a seat, then – provided there is no breakdown or accident – she has a nearly two-hour ride in the traffic, usually without air conditioning and often in temperatures over 30C. Hot and tired by the time she reaches the subway station, she must then line up again for another jam-packed journey to her destination.

Most days, she gets in shortly before 9am, the 22 miles having taken close to three hours. It is the same story in the evening. By the time she gets home, usually long after dark, Cardoso has spent almost a quarter of her day, and a sizeable share of her income, on public transport.

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Tomorrow’s cities: Rio de Janeiro’s bid to become a smart city

September 9, 2013

Jane Wakefield – BBC News, 09/08/2013

Rio de Janeiro’s famously chaotic favelas are as much a landmark of the city as the Christ statue or Sugarloaf Mountain but few would see them as the natural home to smart technologies.

However, a remarkable project is under way that is already changing lives, and it is one of which the city government, keen to put Rio on the map as Latin America’s first smart city, should take note.

The project, co-ordinated by Unicef in collaboration with local non-government organisation CEDAPS (Centro de Promocao da Saude) has local teenagers digitally mapping five favelas in order to highlight some of the challenges for those living there.

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Rio mayor says it is “a shame” his city is hosting the Olympics

August 22, 2013

Hannah Strange – The Telegraph, 08/22/2013

Speaking after June riots that saw public fury at spending on sporting events spill out onto the streets of Rio and other cities, Eduardo Paes said: “It is a shame that Brazil is hosting the Olympic Games… We must handle the legacy of the Olympics in the city”.

He suggested that while the infrastructure being built in Rio would benefit the city, it was uncertain who would maintain and fund parts of it in the future.

“Rio will have to look after the legacy of infrastructure,” he said in an interview with sports channel ESPN to be broadcast on Friday. “But it’s unclear who will run the sports centres after the Olympics.”

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Swifter, higher…tidier: Rio cleans up before Brazil Olympics and World Cup

August 20, 2013

Jonathan Watts – The Guardian, 08/20/2013

Rio de Janeiro’s preparations for the World Cup and Olympics have so far mostly focussed on efforts to sweep crime off the streets, but now the city has opened up a new front in its clean-up campaign: a draconian clampdown on litterbugs.

As well as an escalating scale of fines, ranging from £30 for pet litter to almost £1,000 for large-scale fly-tipping, the authorities say they will also give a “dirty name” to citizens who are caught dropping rubbish, and who fail to pay the penalty. This will be noted on their identification documents, and will appear whenever they apply for credit cards or loans.

The lixo zero (zero waste) law was supposed to have have been introduced in July but was postponed because of the recent papal visit and mass demonstrations against public bus fare increases, which showed widespread resistance to new levies. Rio’s mayor, Eduardo Paes, said he also wanted more time to raise public awareness.

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Analysis: Pope’s Brazil visit raises red flags for World Cup, Olympics

July 30, 2013

Paulo Prada & Anthony Boadle- Reuters, 07/28/2013

A string of organizational flaws during the visit of Pope Francis to Brazil that put him at risk and stranded thousands of visiting faithful has deepened concern about the country’s ability to host the upcoming World Cup and Olympic Games.

Even Rio de Janeiro’s mayor gave himself a failing grade in organizing World Youth Day, a biennial gathering of young Catholics that on Sunday drew some 3 million people to a seaside mass delivered by the pope on Copacabana beach.

The city, said Eduardo Paes in a radio interview on Friday, “scored closer to zero than ten.”

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Grassroots media on the rise amid Brazil protests and Pope Francis visit

July 24, 2013

Rachel Glockhouse – Christian Science Monitor, 07/24/2013

One of the most interesting elements of Brazil‘s protests, which continue to simmer across the country in smaller numbers, is the use of new media to plan, broadcast, and report on the demonstrations. Mídia Ninja is perhaps the best known group to emerge, and has used social media and webcasting as tools to cover the protests.

Given its role, Mídia Ninja could have simply been evidence of a rise in citizen journalism, but it has also gained a role as a protagonist in the protests. On July 22, during a Rio protest on day one of the Pope’s visit to Brazil, two Mídia Ninjareporters were arrested (and subsequently released) after police claimed they were trying to “incite violence” by broadcasting the event. A total of seven people were arrested, and one of the protesters was initially denied bail. He spoke to ninja reporters with the hope that someone would find a video to prove his innocence and through social media, Mídia Ninja advocated for his release. The coverage worked, and he was released on Tuesday afternoon. Nevertheless, the backlash against the arrests exploded on social media, and while the full repercussions have yet to be seen, there are echoes of police brutality and arrests of journalists at Occupy Wall Street. And if the original São Paulo protests proved anything, it’s that police violence against journalists will fuel the protests even more.

Plus, Midia Ninja gained enough clout that Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes gave reporters an interview this week. The interview surprised traditional journalists, some of whom felt the ninjas were unprepared. But the fact that the mayor appears to have offered the interview indicates how far the group has come.

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Protest-hit Brazil “missed chance” to improve services

June 28, 2013

BBC News, 06/27/2013

Brazil “lost a great opportunity” to improve public services when it won the right to host the 2014 football World Cup, Rio de Janeiro’s mayor says.

Eduardo Paes told the BBC Brazil should have seized the occasion to invest in healthcare, education and transport.

He spoke after another day of protests against corruption and the high cost of preparations for the World Cup.

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Challenges of hosting a big sporting event

June 27, 2013

Eduardo Paes – Huffington Post, 06/27/2013

Eduardo Paes is the current mayor of Rio de Janeiro

According to United Nations 70 percent of the global population will live in cities by 2050. Within this new world order, conurbations play the lead role and are fiercely competing for supremacy. Yet our global economy does not respect the traditional political boundaries defined between nations. Political movements are now spreading on a global scale and more quickly than ever, something we have witnessed at street level with public demonstrations taking place in Brazil and around the world.

Such disputes are vital to so-called “global cities” — a term coined by sociologist Saskia Sassen. These large-scale metropolises have become an international metaphor for the global community, vying amongst themselves to become key economic hubs, centers for decision-making and policy and home to internationally renowned cultural institutions. New York, London, Singapore, Tokyo and Rio are all part of this select club.

Attracting world-class events such as the Olympics and the World Cup is now regarded as a fundamental strategy to help these global cities and their countries elevate themselves. The question of who will host the next Olympic Games is now a geopolitical concern. When Seoul hosted the Games in 1988 it became a symbol of the Asian Tigers’ ascent onto the world stage. In 1992, the Barcelona Olympics represented the unification of Europe. And when Rio plays host in 2016, it will reinforce the growing importance of Brazil and Latin America as a whole.

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Protests in Brazil reflect ongoing disparities

June 25, 2013

North American Congress on Latin America, 06/25/2013

Hundreds crammed into a room for over six hours, passing around the microphone so that everyone could weigh in. The protestors, mostly students, called the meeting in order to better articulate their message after Rio de Janeiro’s Mayor, Eduardo Paes, had requested to meet with one of the university groups. They emerged that Thursday night with five demands—”five points”—they felt would bring cohesion to the slogans splashed across the signs being waved in the street.

This meeting, or plenaria, took place on Tuesday, June 18, the day after the protests first surged and two days before over a million people took to the streets in over 100 cities across Brazil. While there is no uniformity to all the protests from city to city, and—as Kate Steiker-Ginzberg, a 23-year-old from Philadelphia who attended the plenaria insisted—there exists diversity among protestors within each city, the five points coming out of the plenaria address issues cutting across the various protests.

The first point addresses the 20-cent increase in transportation fare, what has been seen as the catalyst for the protests. While this may not sound like a significant fare hike, as Steiker-Ginzberg explains, it represents a “political miscalculation” on the part of the administration. The fare increase was implemented the same day as the Confederation Cup opened in Brazil. Since 2005, this international soccer tournament had served as a rehearsal for the World Cup, which will be held in Brazil next year. Many were frustrated that the price hike would go toward the extravagant sporting facilities instead of improving the dismal public transportation that is often slow, overcrowded, and dangerous—despite the relatively steep price Brazilians pay for their public transportation.

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