HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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25 July 2011

Favela do Metrô

Today’s adventure was a visit to the Favela do Metrô, where I met with a group of aspiring documentary film makers associated with the Cinema Nosso school in Rio. The Favela do Metrô has been a continual target of the municipal government and the Municipal Housing Secretary (SMH).  Tom Phillips and Douglas Engle produced an excellent piece for the Guardian about the destruction of the houses in the community. What happened was that the SMH came with offers of “resettlement” in the Morar Carioca program in Cosmos, 70 km to the west. About 100 of the 400 families in the Community took them up on the offer. As soon as they signed the papers and gathered their belongings, the SMH came in and destroyed their homes. The Guardian video is well worth watching and I am adding to the tale here with a few pictures of my own. The sense of helplessness was palpable and most residents expressed a sense of tremendous insecurity about the future. 



This is the wall framing the entrance to the community. It doesn't leave much doubt about the way that people here feel about the way things are going. 
Eduardo Paes (mayor) is the enemy of the people!
No to the removal of the Community of the Metro!




The President of the Comunidade do Metro residents' association explains the process by which the sMH comes in and spraypaints the houses marked for removal. The yellow paint under the SMH is intended to cover up the numbers to make the work of the SMH more difficult. These marks are eerily reminiscent of a certain tactic used by a certin unsavory government in the 1930s to mark the houses of an undesired population. 




The results are not encouraging. The houses on either side of those destroyed have had their structural integrity compromised. Instead of cleaning up the mess they created, the SMH simply leaves the rubble behind. This devalorizes the area, creates health risks and generally makes everything worse than it was before. This process will likely continue until the area is "cleaned" in order to make way for remote parking for the Maracanã. There are no clear ways to resolve to a very large problematic, only hair-brained solutions and gestapo tactics coming from a short-sighted and callous government. 
Liticia getting water from a hole in the wall next to a recently destroyed house.

21 July 2011

Tupi Ruins found at the Maracanã!!!

It had been awhile since I had ventured into the hole of sadness that was the Maracanã. Though hope does still exist that the final project can be altered from its current course, the continued devastation of this cultural patrimony continues to depress and amaze. I say that there is hope because the Comitê Popular da Copa e Olim-piadas has scheduled a meeting with the Ministerio Publico Federal (MPF - a federal legal agency) for the 28th of July at 14 hrs in downtown Rio (Ninlho Pecahna 31, 6a andar). There, the public will be able to present legal and personal depositions in an attempt to get the construction project altered. Unfortnately, the title of the public hearing is "Maracanã, Present and Future", a clear attempt to forget the previous 61 years of the stadium's history. What follows are some photos from today's experience, which involved an aborted attempt to see Cyprus play Qatar in volleyball in the World Military Games (aborted because they wouldn't let me in with something sticking out of my backpack).

Losing the color. In order to test the concrete of the supporting structure, the sky-blue paint of the stadium has been stripped away. This is part of the larger plan to return the Maracana to its "original" color, white. There is some question as to whether or not the stadium was ever painted white as it was not completed in time for the opening game of the 1950 World Cup. The story that I choose to believe (due to multiple interviews in 2004) and that I wrote about extensively in Temples is that the organizers of the '50 Cup were so confident that Brazil would win the tournament that they offered to paint the stadium in the colors of the winning team. Uruguay won, silencing 200,000 Brazilians and the Maracanã has borne the stain ever since. If only SUDERJ would open the archives se we could get at the maintenance records of the stadium to determine the exact moment in which the stadium was painted, and repainted, and repainted in the colors of los hermanitos we could put this debate to rest. In the foreground is the mis-conceived 2014 project and a banner for the World Military Games. R$705 million of public investment does not begin to approximate what the final cost of the project will be.


Souviner's shop. Snack's Bar. Fala serio. I know that Brazilians are very liberal in their use of the apostrophe, but this kind of grammar howler pervades tourist-orientated signage. The sign explaining the Jules Rimet trophy says in its final paragraph, "In 1966 it was stolen in England, recovered and once again stolen, this time in Brazil where it was melt and sold." Are we to understand that that the thieves melted the trophy before they sold it? They should also put a footnote in the sign that Brazilian thieves stole it before selling it to an Argentine who melted it and pressed it into gold bars (or bar's).


The "museum". Not only is there no useful information, but on display is a bycicle used by workers to get around the job site. How innovative, I guess it's how they got by in 1950. In the back of the room there is a desk used by a functionary, very good, but on top of that desk there is a suitcase that was "used to carry cash and tickets." You don't say? In the era of Eduardo Viana, the decseased Caixa d'Agua, who ran the Rio State Football Federation as his personal fiefdom, the carrying of game reciepts home in such a suitcase was far from uncommon. This very bag should have FIFA's name on it, though it is definitely not big enough to carry the billions they are going to put on the plane to Switzerland.

General view of the Maracanã from the tourists' perch. This is one of the saddest sights in the history of modern sport. The current projects calls for the reduction of the capacity from 86,000 to 76,000 as well as the shrinking of the monumental pitch from 78 x 110 yds to 68 x 105. This will change forever the kind of place the Maracanã is as well as the kind of football played there. The physical space of the goal mouths that have been the thresholds of joy and despair for millions over decades will disappear. Games played here will become ping-pong matches characterized by long-balls and packed-in defenses, styles of play that will violate the basic characteristics of Brazilian football.

The old moat that separated the geral from the field can be seen in the back of this photo. Now used as a ramp to bring heavy equipment onto what was the field, this defining characteristic of the Maracanã will also disappear. In the foreground, the first of the 60 large concrete supports that held the elegant, monumental roof hits the deck.

As I was watching the roof come apart I was wondering what they were going to do with these massive supports.  As if on cue, in comes the hammer, reducing to rubble a legally protected part of Rio de Janeiro's cultural heritage. No one standing around the massive dust cloud appeared to be wearing any kind of respiratory device. I'm sure that aspirating 61 year old concrete will have a salubious effect on EMOPs labor force.



On the left, one of four new ramps being installed for access to the lower level of the stadium. On the right, the remnants of the old ramp with the entrance to the Maracanãzinho gym in the bckground. This photo was taken from what, in 2000, was supposed to have been the FIFA International Football Hall of Fame. They only managed to construct a huge (gl)ass appendage to the Maracanã and the museum never left paper. During today's visit the down escalators were not functioning.

Museu do Índio, not very well
preserved. 
Tupi Ruins in the Maracanã!!!!
Last week, workers digging under the field found 11th century Tupi ruins. This was either a burial ground, an observatory, a collective kitchen, a platform for religous ceremonies, or just a pile of dirt that kids used to play on. Archeologists are mystified.  This discovery will further complicate the city government's attempts to disappropriate the Museu do Índio to turn it into a parking lot. They were apparently here first, but who knew that they were playing in midfield the whole time? The people working at Snack's Bar said that this was part of the re-cycling of the old field and that this dirt will be used for the new pitch, but they clearly hadn't read Charles Mann's 1491.

Finally, a 45 second video panorama of the work in progress.



Thanks to Caira Conner for the photographic assistance, her master's research (NYU) looking at "social development" though sporting initiatives associated with mega-events  can be found here.

20 July 2011

Interview with the Observatório das Metrópoles, Jogos Militares

Here's the text of an interview published today in the Boletim Observatório das Metrópoles at UFRJ/IPPUR. Apologies for the Portuguese-only text. Earth-moving news in English coming tomorrow! Also, follow this link for an excellent interview with Professor Gilmar Mascarenhas in Brasil de Fato. 


de Breno Procópio
Em entrevista ao INCT Observatório das Metrópoles, Chris Gaffney, professor visitante da UFF e integrante do Comitê Popular da Copa e Olimpíadas do Rio, comenta o desafio da cidade de democratizar os investimentos dos grandes eventos esportivos. Segundo o pesquisador, a 5ª edição dos Jogos Mundiais Militares, que começou no último sábado (16), repete o legado de exclusão do Pan-Americano. 
Os Jogos Mundiais Militares já são o maior evento esportivo na América do Sul em termos de número de países e atletas participantes. Segundo os organizadores, são cerca de 6 mil atletas e 2 mil delegados de mais de 100 países, número que supera os Jogos Pan-Americanos. Será o primeiro teste do Rio para as Olimpíadas 2016.
A escolha da capital fluminense para sediar os 5º Jogos Mundiais Militares aconteceu em maio de 2007, em Burkina Faso, na África Ocidental, durante reunião do CISM (Conselho Internacional do Esporte Militar). O Brasil disputou com a Turquia o direito de sediar os jogos. No julgamento final, o legado dos Jogos Pan-Americanos 2007 foi fundamental, segundo os juízes, para a vitória do Rio.

Investimentos

Segundo dados divulgados pelos organizadores, o Brasil investiu R$ 1,2 bilhão nos jogos, em parte para a construção de alojamentos para os participantes de mais de 100 países. O novo complexo de 17 edifícios inclui 408 unidades espalhadas em três vilas construídas para as Forças Armadas. Cada um dos edifícios tem seis andares, com quatro apartamentos de 110 m² por andar, além de áreas comuns para eventos e um centro poliesportivo. Depois dos Jogos Militares, todos os apartamentos das três vilas serão transformados em moradia funcional para os militares brasileiros.
Perspectiva crítica
Para o norte-americano Christopher Thomas Gaffney, professor visitante na Escola de Arquitetura e Urbanismo da Universidade Federal Fluminense (UFF), pesquisador do projeto sobre os impactos dos megaeventos coordenado pelo INCT Observatório das Metrópoles e financiado pela FINEP, o Pan-Americano não deixou nenhum legado para a cidade.
A escolha do Rio de Janeiro para sediar os 5º Jogos Mundiais Militares aconteceu em maio de 2007, em Burkina Faso, na África Ocidental, durante a reunião do CISM (Conselho Internacional do Esporte Militar). No julgamento final, o legado dos Jogos Pan-Americanos foi fundamental, segundo os juízes, para a escolha do Rio. Como você vê esse legado?Ele começou a pesquisar os megaeventos há seis anos, quando realizou um levantamento sobre as mudanças do Maracanã para os Jogos Pan-Americanos, abordando a questão histórica e o simbolismo do Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho para a cultura popular do povo carioca. O resultado foi a sua tese de doutorado pela Universidade do Texas (2006), em que comparou a relação do Rio de Janeiro e de Buenos Aires com o futebol. De lá pra cá, Chris tem desenvolvido estudos sobre os seguintes temas: produção de espaço, megaeventos, estádios e identidade.
O legado dos Jogos Pan-Americanos pode ser descrito por estádios mal construídos; o Engenhão, por exemplo, pra quem pôde conhecê-lo é bonito por fora e feio por dentro. Além disso, foi colocado em uma região onde vivem populações de baixa renda, mas não houve melhorias no entorno do estádio. Claro que se você for avaliar, o Engenhão é um estádio funcional para o atletismo, mas até hoje existe a ameaça de ser interditado porque a sua iluminação não funciona bem. Quer dizer, o poder público gastou R$ 400 milhões para a construção do estádio, sendo que deveria ter gasto apenas R$ 100 milhões, devido à exigência de uma pista de atletismo para sediar o Pan-Americano. Vemos nisso a incapacidade do COB e do poder público de gerir esses projetos, vemos a falta de transparência com os gastos, falta de planejamento e gestão profissional na organização desses eventos.
Construir estádios faz parte da história humana. Os gregos, romanos, os astecas e outros povos construíam estádios. Temos mais de 2000 anos de história. Portanto, falar que um grande evento esportivo deixa como legado um estádio é perder o sentido dessa palavra. Porque legado significa o que deixamos para as gerações futuras. E o que foi deixado em termos sociais e de infraestrutura para a população do Rio? Podemos afirmar que o legado é praticamente nulo. Porque no lugar de se construir espaços de lazer popular, o Engenhão tirou da população que mora no Engenho de Dentro um local de recreação. Ali havia um campo para pelada, para as pessoas do bairro. Mas agora o estádio é usado só para eventos profissionais, as pessoas que vivem ali não podem entrar, fazer uso de um espaço que foi construído com dinheiro público.
O mesmo acontece com a Arena Multiuso, na Barra da Tijuca. Só quem pode usar o espaço é atleta profissional ou a Amy Winehouse ou outro astro da música. Destino semelhante tem o Parque Aquático Maria Lenk que não é um espaço popular ou de base de lazer. O legado do Pan, assim, é de desperdício de dinheiro e construção de espaços para a prática de esportes de alto rendimento. A população não ganhou nenhum local para a prática esportiva, foi excluída desse processo.
E qual a sua avaliação sobre a organização do Rio para a Copa 2014 e Olimpíadas 2016? Os Jogos Mundiais Militares representam o primeiro teste?
Acredito que a preparação para os Jogos Militares teve pontos bons e ruins. Em relação à informação e divulgação dos jogos foi bem ruim. Encontrei até propagandas e folhetos informativos escritos em inglês com uma qualidade péssima, ou seja, a organização pecou na produção de material para recepcionar os atletas e turistas que vieram ver os Jogos. O nível de profissionalismo para a realização desses Jogos Militares é muito ruim – pensando a questão da informação.
Já em relação à infraestrutura, os organizadores tiveram de construir as Vilas Militares para receber os atletas, foram investidos cerca de 400 milhões de reais na construção de mais de 1200 apartamentos. No entanto, as Vilas serão destinadas ao Exército após os Jogos. Quer dizer, há um investimento público que será destinado às Forças Armadas, mas esse tipo de investimento já está previsto no orçamento público. Em contrapartida, não há um projeto claro para habitação popular.
Sobre a questão estrutural, temos ainda problemas nos aeroportos. Pelo que se sabe, não foram feitos investimentos no Aeroporto do Galeão. Muitos atletas tiveram que enfrentar uma grande confusão na chegada à cidade. Dessa forma, o que se vê são poucos resultados efetivos na cidade. E o que importa neste processo não é o que vai acontecer em 2014, nem 2016, mas sim o que vai acontecer em 2017. O que vai ficar para a população e para o Rio?
As Vilas Militares foram construídas em Campo Grande, Deodoro e Afonsos, locais da zona Oeste e Norte do Rio de Janeiro que carecem de obras de infraestrutura. O que o Comitê Popular defende em relação a investimentos para os megaeventos? E como tem sido desenvolvido esse processo até o momento?
Existe um comportamento padrão em relação aos megaeventos no Brasil. As obras para esses eventos esportivos não fazem parte do planejamento urbano de longo prazo para a cidade. Ao contrário, o megaevento vira o plano estratégico da cidade. É o que chamamos planejamento de curto prazo; planejamento para o evento em si, e não para a cidade na totalidade do seu território.
O que o Comitê Popular tem exigido é que os investimentos em equipamentos esportivos e no entorno deles (infraestrutura, segurança, mobilidade etc) tenham relação com o Plano Diretor da Cidade, que respeitem o que já estava sendo planejado para longo prazo. Essa deveria ser a lei da terra: todos os investimentos públicos para Copa e Olimpíadas devem respeitar o Plano Diretor e o Estatuto da Cidade, já que essas são ferramentas de planejamento democrático para o território urbano.
Para alguns pesquisadores, o Rio de Janeiro repete uma tradição de exclusão social? Isso acontece neste processo de preparação dos eventos esportivos?
É um processo de exclusão em vários sentidos. Exclusão no acesso ao lazer, já que o Rio está investindo apenas na construção de equipamentos de alto rendimento esportivo, e não há recursos para espaços e equipamentos de recreação para a população, tampouco investimento no esporte de base. O COB tem mandado atletas para os EUA e outros países para treinar para as Olimpíadas, em vez de investir em equipamentos aqui, para democratizar o esporte, oferecer oportunidades para toda a população. Dessa forma, vemos uma exclusão da participação popular no esporte.
A segunda maneira de exclusão é com o transporte. O poder municipal está construindo linhas de transporte cujo resultado é a fragmentação da cidade, cortando comunidades e removendo à força as pessoas de suas casas. O secretário municipal de Habitação está usando o seu spray para marcar as casas e usando táticas e constrangimentos para que as pessoas saiam de suas casas. E aqui há uma pressão do COI e da FIFA para que o Rio de Janeiro e o Brasil cumpram todas as metas.
No Maracanã, por exemplo, estamos vendo a destruição de um palco do povo carioca e a construção de um shopping, de outra coisa. Em todas as cidades-sede da Copa, vemos a desmobilização de espaços populares, a privatização do espaço público e a construção de locais de consumo de padrão do capital internacional.


13 July 2011

Ignorance, Indignation, and Power Games – Ignorância, Indignação, e Jogos do Poder

Nearly everyone loves the World Cup, not everyone knows what it takes to produce it. Some people still watch the Olympic Games but forget about the massive public investment required to produce them or the nebulous and contradictory legacies left behind – new transportation systems, public debt, elite sporting facilities, high maintenance costs, gentrification, residential displacement, developing of a tourist economy, loss of authenticity, market opporutnities, commercialization of public space, the list goes on.

After the series of talks I have just given, I am more convinced than ever that the current model of mega-event installation is more destructive than constructive for social relations and urban structures. The absurdly optimistic discourses about development and market share increase do not allow for the insertion of other possibilities. Does the possibility that that the tourist numbers might not be met ever enter the consciousness of even-promoters? Does it matter? Do the decent individuals within the corrupt NGOs responsible for the production of these events really believe what they say or are they willfully ignorant of the Brave New World they are intentionally producing? Once we stop taking the soma pills of developmental sporting discourse it is but a short leap from ignorance to indignation.

Brazilian journalists are stopping their medication. Pedro Peduzzi  has a very good article in the Journal do Brasil about the Maracanã and the total disrespect shown towards Brazilian football tradition, the fans, and the major problems involved in constructing stadiums with public money given to private contractors that have very cozy relationships with elected officials. Fernanda Odilla in the Folha do São Paulo investigated the economics of producing the World Cup stadiums and concluded that even with significant participation of private companies through PPPs (Public Private Partnerships), the three stadia using this model will be financed through at least 60% public money before being handing over to private concessions for up to 35 years. AS I have been saying all along, the private sector is not entering into the construction of stadia and/or mega-event infrastructure because it is not a viable investment and because they don’t have to, the state has it covered (by law and by contracts with the IOC and FIFA).

There is so much capital flowing through mega-event structures that the political figures and intrigue will make for a very good movie someday. I’m still working on the idea of the World Cup and Olympics as seasons six and seven of The Wire, mixed a bit with Deadwood. The plot, already very complex, is taking some sharp turns as the national and international media are hot on the trail of Ricardo Teixeira (Dr. Jowls). The good Andrew Jennings was in Brazil recently drawing attention to the criminal activities of the CBF. The irrefutable evidence being complied should make for some major shifts in the way Brasil 2014 is unfolding, if, if, if Dilma has the courage of her former convictions, which is so doubtful that I’ll throw in another and bigger IF.  

The Olympic power structure is also increasingly clear with Henrique Mirelles (former chief of Brazil’s Central Bank and a Harvard –educated economist [read: neo-liberal]) stepping away from the hot-seat of the Public Olympic Auhtority to preside over the Olympic Council. In his place was inserted Márcio Fortes, former Minister of Cities, who is going to be the one who takes the heat for the success or failure of the Olympic infrastructure plans. The editors from terra.com.br had a good time with the photo for this story, making it slightly difficult to tell which character is Fortes. I hope it’s the guy on the left. Of course, Fortes defended the RDC program which allows for the “flexibilization” of normal contracting process that I talked about a few posts ago.
Hopefully in the coming months geostadia.com will be able to get interviews with these power brokers to find out how much soma they have been ingesting. 

What is certain is that the presidency of the APO has been a political hot-potato. Recognizing the extreme political exposure of a position that will be responsible for a budget that is beginning at R$29 billion and urban projects that will change Rio de Janeiro forever, Mirelles went up a level to the Olympic Consular position. He, along with Rio’s Mayor (El Principe) and Govenor (Deputy Dawg Cabral) will have the final say on everything. This will be an interesting relationship to watch as El Principe has already made several failed movements to limit the power of the APO. However, this was when Mirelles was slated to take that position and now that things have changed, again, how these three megalomaniacs get along with the size-defying egos at the IOC and COB to continue the implementation of Gestapo tactics to produce the Olympic City will be fascinating and terrifying to watch.

Oh, some of the Maracana urbanization project has finally been approved. R$117,9 million to build a couple of footbridges. While this hardly qualifies as an “urbanization” project, it will create a new link between the stadium complex and the Quinta da Boa Vista. Now that the pesky Favela do Metrô has been wiped off the map, this project will be much easier to think about. [editor's note: only some houses in the Favela do Metro have been destroyed].

               

               

               

               

               

05 July 2011

2014 World Cup Stadia Cost per seat index sets world record!!!!! Tweet!

The Fonte Novo goes down

The Castelão, no more
     city        R$million   R$/seat
Belo Horizonte
743,4
10,6
Brasilia
696,0
9,9
Cuiaba
342,1
4,9
Curitiba
222,0
5,3
Fortaleza
532,6
6,7
Manaus
499,5
11,1
Natal
400,0
8,9
Porto Alegre
270,0
4,4
Recife
532,0
11,6
Rio de Janeiro
1100,0
14,5
Salvador
1605,0
29,2
São Paulo
1070,0
22,3
average
667,7
11,6


I have the nagging fear that I am repeating myself here at geostadia. The complexity of the World Cup has become so ordinary that I'm not able to tell the tale of crime, obsfucation, robbery and incompetence any more simply unless I get some inputs from other people. Fortunately, there are many of you out there reading the blog and thanks to your input I've got another spin on the 2014 World Cup stadia disaster: cost per seat.

I launched a larger version of the above table at the ABRAJI conference in Sao Paulo last week. The complete table shows that there has been a 170% increase in construction costs since 2009, with no ceiling in sight. The longer the stadiums get delayed the more they will cost to finish. We know already that the stadiums in Manaus, Natal, Brasilia, and Cuiaba will have no functional sporting use after the event. What I have isolated above are the construction costs and the costs per seat.

Thanks to Ian Nuttall from stadiumbusinesssummit I received news that RCD Espanyol in Barcelona recently constructed their 40,500 seat stadium at a cost of 1850 Euros, or 4162,5 Reales per seat. The above table shows that only the stadiums in Cuiaba and Porto Alegre come close and the former is an intentionally manufactured elefante branco. The average for the 12 World Cup stadiums is nearly three times that of the Barcelona stadium where surely things like concrete, land, and labor are more expensive than they are in Brazil. Hmmmmm...If I were a federal prosecutor it would be hard to know where to start: collusion, theft, nepotism? Can you sue people for gross incompetence? Even the US$1,15 Billion Dallas Cowboys' stadium managed to keep the cost per seat at around U$10,450 (R$16,200). Wembley, the most overblown budget of all time was around R$22,000 a seat - exactly what Corinthians new stadium will cost. How is this possible?

The ABRAJI conference brought together a slew of investigative journalists working on exposing the horrors of mega-event planning in Brazil. Foremost among them were Andrew Jennings and Juca Kfuri, both of whom are working hard to expose the inner workings of FIFA and the CBF. Juca is under continual legal attack by the CBF and Andrew's long and dedicated work has started to unravel the FIFA family at the highest levels. We can only hope that someone will be able to get to João Havelange before he dies so he can spend his remaining years behind bars along with Ricardo Teixeira and the rest of the FIFA "family".

The very notion of the FIFA and IOC family was discussed by Jens Anderson of the Danish-based NGO Play the Game. In his talk at ABRAJI, he noted that we should think of sport as a community which would open things up to discussion and debate, remove us from patriarchal systems of historically situated privilege and eliminate the closed nature of international (and national) sport governing bodies. (the following is my interpretation of Jen's talk, and are not quotes attributable to him) When the IOC comes to town, they will have exclusive "everything" for the "Olympic Family" - meaning that if you've got the right blood or have somehow pushed your way in, you get the keys to the safe and the city. FIFA is a known international criminal organizations - their dirty laundry has piled up in the Swiss courts for a long time and may be aired fairly soon. The Olympics and the World Cup being emotion and excitement every so often, but wherever they touch down, the wreak debt, delusion, and devastation (not to mention amazing real-estate deals).

01 July 2011

Laws, Speculation, Eminent Domain, Stadia

The scenario – in Brazil it typically takes about 38 months for a government-funded project to go from approval to payment for services. The bureaucratic hurdles to implementing infrastructure projects and social programs are so formidable that even the gods of Olympus would have to take a few extra running steps to clear them. The three year delay between approval and implementation has the house of FIFA in a fine lather, so Dilma’s left-center government has come up with a solution to the bureaucratic bottleneck: RDC.


The RDC (Regime Diferenciado de Contratações Públicas / Differentiated Regime for Public Contracts) is a fundamental element of the Medida Provisória 527, a Provisional Measure that comes from the Executive branch and requires approval from both houses of the Legislature. The original purpose of MP 527 was to create the Ministry of Civil Aviation, but as it was moving through the halls of Brasilia it picked up the RDC.
The alteration of “normal operating procedures” is a hallmark of mega-events which install states of exception and emergency in the cities and countries where they pass. The time pressures of the event and the contracts signed with Swiss-based NGOs allow for the dribbling of democratic processes and the installation of extra-legal authorities that disappear after the events, leaving no one accountable for the wreckage and debt left behind. Greece is burning in large part because of the huge debt spending for the 2004 Olympics, but no one points the finger at the IOC, the government, or the sponsors of the event. No money left in the public coffers? Austerity for the people. 

There are conflicting needs expressed in the RDC and MP 527. Brazil is woefully late and staggeringly over budget in the production of facilities for the 2014 World Cup. There is a need to have a mechanism that lowers, or at least controls, the costs of stadium and infrastructure projects at the same time that the contracting and payment process can be accelerated. There is also a need for greater transparency in the bidding and contracting processes. The problem with "acceleration" or "differentiation" is that it opens the possibility for even more corruption than usual. The main concern of those opposed to the RDC is that it will make secret the price of the projects until after the projects are awarded. This information will be “secret and will only be available to internal and external organs of fiscal control”. Basically, this means that we will never be able to find out how much projects cost.

Worse, these budgets can be kept from public scrutiny forever if they are considered to be relevant for “state security”.

On the bright side, it appears that the “super-powers” of FIFA and the IOC which would have allowed them to demand significant modifications to projects after the contracting process, potentially increasing their cost. Also on the side of transparency and democracy was the inclusion of Federal financial control organs in the list of agencies that could have access to the budgets: Tribunal de Contas da União (TCU), Controladoria-Geral da União (CGU) and Ministério Público (MP).

The Senate should vote on MP 527 this week and there may be some alterations to the final version, so more on that soon. The extreme content of MP 527 has generated significant debate about the role of transparency for mega-event installation. This is a good and necessary debate, but again, one that should have begun back in 2007 when Brazil was first handed the task of preparing for the 2014 World Cup.

See, we're sending those poor people to the puta que pariu!
In Rio, the real-estate speculation boom continues apace. This week, the city announced the winner of the Porto Olímpico contest, a massive re-urbanization prject that will bring millions of square meters of office space and upper middle class residences to the Zona Portuaria. Of course there are the normal references to the “inspiration of Barcelona” and the role of the Olympics in revitalizing the port area. Left out of the celebrations are the reports that many of the Zona Portuaria's traditional tenants and residents are being forced out to make way for the “revitalization”.

One of the most egregious examples of the approach the city is taking in their maniacal desire to re-make space and culture is the expulsion of the Samba schools that have traditionally occupied the region. Twelve schools will have 30 days to leave the area which the Porto Olímpico project will occupy. Out with the old and traditional, in with the new and consumerist. In addition to the samba schools, families and small businesses that occupy the old Federal Railway Depository (RFF) will also have to find somewhere else to go. This is all directed by CDURP, the private enterprise that is responsible for the “re-urbanization” of the Zona Portuaria with R$ 7.6 billion in stimulus from the Caixa Econômica (in addition to several billion more from the FGST, a public workers pension fund). That is to say, uma porrada de dinheiro público para lucros privados.
Speculation and "Re-vitalization", the winning project for the Porto Olimpico

To round off the post, there is a report in today’s Valor Econômico (1.7.11, A7) about the financing of São Paulo’s World Cup stadium, the Itaquerão. In addition to the low-interest R$400 million loan from BNDES, Corinthians (Lula’s team) will receive hundreds of millions from the city as well as a R$30 million exemption from ISS (Taxes for Services Provided). The cost of the stadium, which a few weeks ago was R$700 million, has jumped to R$ 1,07 billion. The city is only guaranteeing financing if the Itaquerão manages to attract the opening game of the cup, further politicizing the already highly charged relations between the CBF and the host cities.

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