Halftime for the Brazilian press

CPJ – 5/6/2014

Will justice prevail over censorship and violence?

Brazil is home to vibrant media, but journalists are regularly murdered with impunity and critical journalists are subject to legal actions that drain resources and censor important stories. During the 2014 World Cup, this contradiction will be on vivid display. Does Dilma Rousseff’s administration have the will and determination to beat back impunity and end legal harassment, allowing press freedom to thrive? A special report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Read full report here.

The flow of drugs and blood in the Amazon tri-border region

Charles Parkinson – In Sight Crime, 4/4/2014

Deep in the Amazon, where ColombiaBrazil and Peru meet, the once crime saturated Colombian city of Leticia enjoys relative tranquility, while Brazilian neighbor Tabatinga is rocked by drug trade violence.

The tri-border region’s geographical position leaves it at the heart of a booming drug trade facilitated by porous borders, a fluid population and disparate resources between the three nations.

Across the Amazon River from Leticia, drug traffickers take advantage of Peru’s inadequate state presence to grow and process coca. Drugs flow from the area into regional and international markets, with Brazil’s Amazon capital, Manaus, a key transit point situated a three day riverboat ride from the tri-border area. The drugs also fuel local micro-trafficking, with sales concentrated in poor border communities.

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Brazil minister admits sport events shortcomings

Roger Blitz – The Financial Times, 3/20/2014

Brazil should have been better prepared for this year’s World Cup and has also been too slow in getting ready for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the country’s sports minister has admitted.

The frank admission from Aldo Rebelo marks a shift in tone from the Brazilian government from its consistently defiant message that it was on top of the task of hosting the world’s next two biggest sporting events.

Asked in an FT interview what Brazil would have done differently when it was awarded the World Cup seven years ago, Mr Rebelo said: “We would have taken better advantage of the time because the decisions would not be different.

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Tram in Brazil not ready for World Cup

Jenny Barchfield – Associated Press, 1/7/2014

A light rail system that was meant to help soccer fans get around World Cup host city Cuiaba, in Brazil’s remote Mato Grosso state, will not be ready in time for the tournament, a top state official says.

Mauricio Guimaraes, who heads World Cup projects in the far western state, said the 13 mile-long train lines won’t be completed until December, more than five months after the end of the World Cup.

Mato Grosso’s infrastructure projects have been plagued by delays, and news reports say 47 out of the state’s 56 World Cup-related projects are delayed. Cuiaba’s Arena Pantanal stadium, which is scheduled to hold four World Cup matches starting with Chile vs. Australia on June 13, was among six World Cup stadiums throughout Brazil that missed the Dec. 31 delivery deadline set by world soccer’s governing body, FIFA.

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Why São Paulo’s crackdown on PCC will face problems

Christopher Looft – In Sight Crime, 11/06/2013

Sao Paulo’s state government is rolling out new measures to combat Brazil‘s PCC prison gang, but there are reasons to doubt the group can be thwarted.

In October, a Sao Paulo court ordered the transfer of First Capital Command (PCC) lieutenant Paulo Cezar Souza Nascimento Junior, alias “Paulinho Neblina,” to the Special Disciplinary System (RDD), a form of solitary confinement, according to a report by Estadoa de Sao Paulo. The transfer of other PCC leaders is expected in the coming days, according to a more recent report by Estadoa.

The move wasn’t the first signal that Sao Paulo’s government has sought to crack down on the PCC, which dominates much of the state’s drug trade and other criminal activities. In a speech given on October 14, Governor Geraldo Alckmin announced the creation of a new task force to identify corrupt police officers working with the group. Alckmin also touted efforts to limit the group’s communications; he said cell phone jamming systems would be put in place in 23 high-security prisons across Sao Paulo state. He also expressed support for the transfer of the group’s leadership to solitary confinement in RDDs.

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Brazil’s scariest slums are a must-see for tourists

Karla Zabludovski – NewsWeek, 10/30/2013

As the van revs its engine and chugs up the hill, passengers – scooped up from some of the most high-end hotels in Rio de Janeiro just minutes ago – crane their necks out and up, straining for the first glimpse of what they hope will be the most miserable squalor they’ll ever see.

Suddenly, Rocinha, the biggest favela – slum – in Rio de Janeiro comes into view in all its dilapidated glory: green, yellow, white, and redbrick buildings piled on top of each other like a collapsing wedding cake, lining the base of a cliff. They see vans and cars try to squeeze through the only street, a narrow road, going up through the favela. Around them, motorcycle taxis swarm from all sides, transporting locals toward their humble residences in the heights. Rudimentary restaurants, bars, gyms, and markets dot the windy road. Electricity lines, to the tourist’s surprise, create giant webs at the middle and tops of poles, a free-for-all.

On both sides and all the way to the top are endless sets of steep stairs, connecting the ever-expanding favela like an intricate circulatory system of veins and arteries.

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Brazil to insist on local Internet data storage after U.S. spying

Esteban Israel & Anthony Boadle – Reuters, 10/28/2013

Brazil, seeking to shield its citizens from alleged U.S. spying, is pushing ahead with its plan to force global Internet companies to store data obtained from Brazilian users inside the country, according to a draft of the law seen by Reuters.

Despite opposition from multinational software, hardware and telecommunications companies, President Dilma Rousseff is pressing lawmakers to vote as early as this week on the law, sparked by disclosures of widespread U.S. spying on Brazilian telecommunications data.

If passed, the new law could impact the way Google, Facebook, Twitter and other Internet giants operate in Latin America’s biggest country and one of the largest telecommunications markets in the world.

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