Brazil Boosts Security in “Pacified” District

July 22, 2014

Latin American Herald Tribune, 7/22/2014

Brazilian authorities on Monday strengthened security in a cluster of Rio de Janeiro shantytowns that were officially pacified four years ago after decades as a bastion of drug traffickers.

The additional police presence follows a violent weekend.

A police officer was wounded, two vehicles were burned and a police base was attacked on Sunday night by suspected drug dealers who evidently were acting in reprisal for the death of a young man during a gunfight and the jailing of one of their associates, Rio state police said.

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Rio Olympics organizers can glean lessons from Brazil’s World Cup

July 21, 2014

Mimi Whitefield – Miami Herald, 7/19/2014

Brazil has barely said tchau to the World Cup, but it has no time for a breather. In two years, Rio de Janeiro will be throwing out a welcome mat to the world as host of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Only three countries — the United States, the former West Germany and Mexico — have had such a short turnaround between hosting duties for the two biggest sports events on the planet. In the 1930s, however, both the United States and Germany hosted summer and winter Olympics in the same year.

Despite misgivings about everything from security to transportation to whether stadiums would be finished on time, Brazil managed to pull off a successful FIFA World Cup. That’s a positive omen for the Aug. 5-21, 2016 Olympics and Sept. 7-18 Paralympics.

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Former exec of Brazil’s Petrobras charged with fraud

July 18, 2014

EFE – Fox News Latino, 7/17/2014

Prosecutors have filed fraud charges against an erstwhile executive of Petrobras and eight other suspects over alleged gross overbilling for a contract, the latest corruption scandal to rock the Brazilian state-controlled oil giant.

Petrobras’ former chief international officer, Jorge Luiz Zelada, is accused of favoring Brazil’s Odebrecht in a 2010 auction in which the construction group was awarded an $825.6 million contract, the Rio de Janeiro state Attorney General’s Office said in a statement.

Also under investigation are Odebrecht’s contract director, Marco Antonio Duran, and the Petrobras attorneys, technicians and engineers who were involved in the alleged fraud related to a project to adapt Petrobras’s assets in 11 countries.

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Brazil tracks World Cup lessons for Rio Olympics

July 18, 2014

Stephen Fottrell – BBC, 7/18/2014

The World Cup may be over, but in just two years’ time Brazil will once again brace itself for an influx of huge numbers of visitors, sports fans and tourists for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

The 2014 tournament has generally been regarded as a success, in the face of many doubts inside and outside Brazil.

So what can the country learn from the experience that can help it to host its next major sporting event? BBC Brasil’s Renata Mendonca looks at the lessons learned and the challenges ahead for Brazil.

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Brazil’s Retail Sales Unexpectedly Rose in May on World Cup

July 17, 2014

David Biller – Bloomberg, 7/16/2014

Brazil’s retail sales in May unexpectedly rose as consumers shopped for domestic goods in preparation for the World Cup soccer tournament.

Sales rose 0.5 percent after a 0.4 percent decline the previous month, the national statistics agency said today in Rio de Janeiro. That was above forecasts from 34 economists surveyed by Bloomberg, whose median estimate was for sales to decline 0.1 percent.

May’s sales marked the first growth since January as shoppers cope with accelerating inflation and higher interest rates. Consumer confidence that in May fell to a more than five-year low has since rebounded. President Dilma Rousseff saw a bounce in support ahead of October elections as she labors to pull the country from the slowest growth of gross domestic product for any president in more than two decades.

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Rio 2016 Olympics organisers confident after Brazil’s World Cup success

July 16, 2014

Owen Gibson – The Guardian, 7/15/2014

High on the eventual success of the World Cup, Rio 2016 organisers have boldly promised that their city’s next major sporting event in two years’ time will be “the Olympics of the Olympics”.

The reference by the mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, to the vow to stage the “Copa das Copas” in Brazil, was perhaps tongue in cheek but the sentiment is deadly serious. “The mistrust we had two months ago is not there. We’re convinced we’ll deliver everything on time. It’s going to be a great party,” he promised.

Yet while a successful World Cup has shifted sentiment about Rio’s lagging progress towards the Olympics in 2016, serious questions remain. Those concerns burst into the open two months ago when the International Olympic Committee vice-president, John Coates, warned Rio was further behind than the notoriously last-minute Athens Games of 2004.

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Success for Brazil, Just Not on the Field

July 14, 2014

Jeré Longman – The New York Times, 7/13/2014

RIO DE JANEIRO — When Mario Götze settled a crossing pass with his chest and volleyed a goal that won the World Cup, German fans roared in ecstatic release. Those from Brazil were nearly as delirious, even if it was out of relief as much as celebration.

It might have seemed an odd sight, Brazilian fans celebrating another team inside their own cathedral of soccer, the Maracanã stadium. But after two demoralizing losses brought national embarrassment, solace finally came Sunday as Germany defeated Argentina, 1-0, to become the first European team to win a World Cup played in North or South America.

“Argentina winning would have been the worst thing I could think of,” said Jaime Costa, 30, a Brazil fan who works in publicity for a music company.

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Brazilians Go Back to Real Life

July 14, 2014

Simon Romero – The New York Times, 7/13/2014

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazil suffered mightily with its national team’s 7-1 rout at the hands of Germany in the World Cup semifinals last week, but the authorities here breathed sighs of relief as the tournament came to a close on Sunday with Germany’s victory over Argentina, amid muted street protests and a display of Brazil’s ability to successfully organize sporting megaevents.

“The Cup would have been perfect, except for the lack of the sixth championship,” Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, said in a brief speech at Maracanã, the stadium that was turned into a militarized zone after security forces severely restricted access over concerns that demonstrations could disrupt the final match.

Brazilian soccer fans, who traditionally view Argentina as their chief rival, seemed to be generally pleased with the result of the game. When Germany scored its only goal in the 113th minute, securing victory in extra time, fireworks were set off across the city.

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In shadow of Brazil World Cup, a nonprofit builds fields of hope

July 14, 2014

Rick Maese – The Washington Post, 7/11/2014

 From afar, the Complexo do Alemão favela looks like Legos dropped from the sky, a mountain of small building blocks stacked one atop another in no discernible pattern. With an estimated population of at least 100,000 people, the favela is one of Rio’s largest. Historically, it has also been one of its most dangerous.

The endless maze of small boxy homes and narrow pathways is located about 5 ½ miles from the famed Maracana stadium, site of the World Cup’s title match Sunday. But soccer isn’t that far away. In fact, it’s never been closer.

A nonprofit co-founded by Washington native Drew Chafetz is responsible for the favela’s giant year-old soccer field with red fencing wrapping around the perimeter. At the same time Brazil’s municipal governments and soccer officials scrambled to construct and refurbish a dozen World Cup stadiums, Chafetz and his modest outfit have been busy building their own fields around Brazil, working with considerably smaller budgets and with sights set on an impact that will continue to be felt long after this World Cup.

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The Political Hangover from Brazil’s World Cup Defeat

July 14, 2014

Antônio Sampaio – Foreign Policy, 7/12/2014

The World Cup isn’t over yet, but Brazil’s politicians are already facing fallout from the devastating defeat of the national team at the hands of Germany on July 8. That some Brazilian fans decided to react with violence comes, perhaps, as little surprise. The day after Brazil’s historic 7-1 loss to the Germans, rioters burned more than 20 buses in São Paulo, the country’s economic hub. In Belo Horizonte, the city that hosted the match, a gathering of thousands of people turned nasty when protesters set a Brazilian flag on fire and others threw rocks at the police.

The government has now decided to send reinforcements to security forces in both of those cities as well as to Rio de Janeiro, the site of the final match. All this comes in addition to thousands of soldiers already sent to the main host cities as a contingency measure at the start of the Cup. Justice Minister José Eduardo Cardozo has expressed particular concern about renewed activity by the anarchist Black Bloc movement, masked youths who have provoked numerous clashes with the police in recent months.

But the political repercussions from the defeat are likely to go farther than the actions of a few dozen football hooligans. After all, it was precisely Brazil’s plans to host the Cup (at a cost of some 11 billion dollars) that triggered an unprecedented wave of demonstrations, protests, and political activism a year ago — all of it underlining that futebol no longer occupies the same place in Brazilian hearts that it once did. Now the beautiful game is at the center of an agonized national rethink, a mass, middle-class movement against outdated infrastructure and failing services. And the crushing July 8 defeat is giving new momentum to the demands for reform.

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