The Worst Predictions About Rio Haven’t Come True. That Tells Us a Few Things About Brazil and the Media.

Alex Cuadros – The New York Magazine, 08/11/2016

If you only saw the headlines in the lead-up to the Olympics, Rio de Janeiro sounded like the lawless city from a postapocalyptic movie: “Wave of deadly gunbattles hit Rio as the Olympics get closer”; “Body parts wash ashore next to Rio Olympic venue.” Glib listicles played up the threat of political unrest, terrorist attacks, Zika-carrying mosquitoes, and “super-bacteria” in the sewage-tainted bay. One writer used the term “disastrophe” to describe the situation and claimed that so-called “‘lightning kidnappings’ are nearly as popular in Brazil as feijoada” (a delicious bean stew). Another writer topped him with this analogy: “the global event equivalent of a fire tornado touching down on a killer bee sanctuary.”

It was like the Olympics of hyperbolic Olympics scaremongering. Now that the games are on, the hysteria is already looking misplaced. This would have been clear enough to anyone who simply took a walk around the city. The last time I went, at the end of June, Rio was functioning more or less in its usual way: slightly chaotic but manageably so, albeit with fresh construction for the Olympics marring what is perhaps the world’s most beautiful urban topography. Off of Copacabana Beach, I could see locals hopping waves — which suggested that concerns over the quality of the water might be somewhat inflated, too.

It was like the Olympics of hyperbolic Olympics scare-mongering.

I should disclose here that I myself have taken part in the Rio-bashing. I moved to Brazil in 2010, back when the country seemed on the verge of becoming a world power, and watched as the Olympics became an excuse to funnel public money to rich campaign donors for not always useful projects. Still, even I have to admit that Rio has made dramatic improvements in recent years. Perhaps the most dramatic is that the homicide rate, while still appallingly high, has fallen by two-thirds since the 1990s. Even after a spike in murders this year, it’s now less than half the rate in St. Louis, Missouri. And with 85,000 soldiers and police securing Rio for the Olympics, it’s probably one of the safest places in Latin America at the moment.

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Months before Rio Olympics, murder rate rises in Brazil

Kenneth Rapoza – Forbes, 01/29/2016

Brazil just cannot — cannot — get a break. If it’s not their Banana Republic-esque politicians and oligarchs, commodity deflation, inflation and pesky mosquitoes spreading the zica virus to the world, its violent crime. A new report out this month has Brazilian cities dominating a list of the 50 murder capitals of the world.

The report by Mexico City based Center for Public Security And Criminal Justice shows clearly that no country in the Americas has more cities plagued by violent crime than Brazil. It could be because the country is so large. But then again, the U.S. is just as big and has just four cities on the list, including some like St. Louis that are more violent than Rio de Janeiro in terms of homicide rates. Mexico, the second largest country in Latin America, has five cities on the list, down from last year’s 12.

But when it comes to mortal gunshot wounds, Brazil takes the cake. Out of the 50 cities with high per capita homicide rates, the “country of the future”, where God is a registered voter, according to local lore, has a whopping 22 cities on the list. Even clean-and-green Curitiba and homogenous Porto Alegre are on it.

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Brazil insists violence won’t undermine 2016 Olympics

AP – SF Gate, 2/3/2015

Brazil’s Tourism Minister said Tuesday that he’s not worried that a recent spike in violence in Rio de Janeiro might deter visitors from attending next year’s Olympic Games.

Vinicius Lages said studies have shown that insecurity is not a major worry for visitors to the city, which has long had alarmingly frequent muggings and high murder rates.

Though levels of violence have dipped in recent years, Rio has had a recent spike in insecurity, including highly publicized spates of stray bullet fatalities and mass robberies on its showcase beaches.

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Olympic host Brazil dominates list of world’s 50 most dangerous cities

Tim Johnson – McClatchyDC, 1/20/2015

Forty-three of the 50 most dangerous cities in the world are in Latin America, according to a survey released Tuesday, including 19 in Brazil, which will host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Mexico City didn’t make the list, and Ciudad Juárez, the border city with Texas that was once the world’s murder capital, fell this year to No. 27. But the fallen Mexican resort of Acapulco was No. 3, behind San Pedro Sula, Honduras, and Caracas, Venezuela.

This is the seventh year that the Citizen Council for Public Security and Criminal Justice, a Mexico City advocacy, has compiled the list, based on official murder rates per 100,000 residents of cities with more than 300,000 people.

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Brazil busts gang linked to Bolivian drug traffickers

Fox News Latino, 9/26/2014

Twenty-six people were arrested in an operation targeting a gang with ties to drug traffickers in neighboring Bolivia, Brazilian police said Friday.

The organization specializes in smuggling drugs into Brazilian territory on small planes that secretly land on rural runways of the Triangulo Mineiro area of Minas Gerais state and in the southern part of Goias, according to a Federal Police communique.

The gang is also suspected in a number of drug-related homicides.

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Videos of police crimes spur Brazilians to confront a longtime problem

Dom Phillips – The Washington Post, 8/5/2014

The footage of the two officers chilled viewers of the prime-time Brazilian TV show “Fantástico.”

Filmed by a camera in the front seat of their patrol car, the video obtained by the program showed the police officers after they picked up three teenage boys on June 11 in central Rio de Janeiro — an area afflicted by street crime and violent muggings often perpetrated by teenage boys. The officers had driven the boys to a nearby forested, hilly area; the video captured them nonchalantly discussing “discharging the weapon a little.”

The camera switched off when they parked the car in an isolated area. By the time it started recording again, one boy, 15, lay shot and left for dead. A second boy, 14, had been shot and killed. The third boy, 15, had been released before the shooting.

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