HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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27 August 2013

Same band, different tune

Lord Mayor Breads has been singing a different tune lately. Over the past few weeks he has called the Olympics a boon for Rio but an embarrassment for Brazil, said that FIFA is not concerned at all with what happens after the World Cup, compared his municipal habitation employees to Nazis (for tagging houses to be demolished), demanded that the mafia bosses of Brazilian sport end their lifetime tenures, been interviewed by Midia Ninja, sat down with the Comitê Popular, guaranteed the permanence of the Vila Autódromo, the Escola Friendenrich, Museu do Indio and said that Brazil has wasted its opportunity to benefit from the World Cup and Olympics. It’s almost as if he’s been reading and agreeing with Hunting White Elephants.

Pinch me a loaf!

While it is not likely of interest to those who don`t know the delights of the Bay of Guanabara, for those of us fortunate enough to live in the center of the world, Paes’ words and actions are of some interest. There appears to be a rupture in the friendly hegemony that Carioca society erected in the past few years. Deputy Dawg Cabral is really suffering as Govenor, coitado, and has floated some information biscuits about resigning in April in order to escape to Brasilia in 2014. The majority of the protests in Rio have taken Cabral as their target and Paes is clearly trying to get some distance. The ongoing protests have won significant victories and concessions, though as Gramsci (and Nidhi Srinivas) would remind us, “progress occurs as the reaction of the dominant classes to the sporadic and incoherent rebelliousness of the popular masses.”

Paes is also trying to capture some sympathy from the Carioca and Brazilian left. In the absence of strong, persuasive, lefty leadership Paes has seized on the opportunity to make some concessions in order to show how rational and progressive he is. The problem is that Paes continues to be Paes and watching the interview segments that he did on Juca Entrevista one cannot help but note his inability to answer a question directly or to express himself on national television without saying “porra”. Now that he has everything he wants in terms of the closing game of the World Cup, the International Media Center, the Olympics, etc, he can basically say whatever he wants for short term political gain. He has managed to irritate FIFA, the IOC, the Minister of Sport, Snoozman, the CBF and probably Cabral and Dilma. If Machiavelli and Madame Chiang had a child, what would they name it?

Though whistling a different tune, Paes has not changed the band. As evidence, I present this delicious bon mot on the lamentable, but inevitable (according to him) decision to turn an environmentally protected wetland area into the Olympic golf course: “How is it possible that a golf course, that is basically grass and native vegetation, could damage the natural environment?”  

Protest march to the Palacio de Guanabara on 26.8.13 -C.Gaffney photo
To close out the month, the Maraca é Nosso movement has staged a series of protests in the last few weeks to demand the end to the Maracanã concession / privatization. After decreeing that the Escola, Museu, swimming and athletics facilities could not be demolished, the government had to allow for the possibility that the new rights holders (Maracanã S.A.) back out of the contract. Maracanã S.A. is 80% controlled by the civil construction behemoth Odebrecht, 10% by IMG and 10% by Eike Batista’s IMX. It appears that Maracanã S.A. are going to continue and will make tens of millions on this public investment, while taking no risk of their own. After the effective life of the stadium is over, in 35 years, the state will take it back, reform it again with public money and the next generation of Cariocas will repeat the mistakes of their parents.


The immediate return of the Maracanã to public hands is a first step towards solving the problem. Once there, the problem of ineptitude within SUDERJ (State Superintendency of Sports for Rio) has to be resolved. The Comitê Popular has opened a public consultation site so that a more egalitarian and functional management system can be created for the post 2014 reality of Rio. 

2 comments:

Antonio Oswaldo Cruz said...

The cynicism that oozes from Paes' mouth in these interview segments, coupled with his arrogance and plain vulgarity folowing his remarks on Chicago and to french journalists is just appalling and revolting. To see this person holding mayorship of Rio and destroying the city the way he is doing, with no regard to his post and no respect to the people of this city, makes me very angry and ashamed as a carioca and brazilian.

One other thing that caught my attention in the interview segments is how Kfouri seems to have "afinado" when confronted with Paes. I will give him the benefit of doubt though, since, to be honest, I have watched only the segments, and not the whole interview.

Christopher Gaffney said...

I was a bit taken aback by Juca´s stance with PAes, but will also give him the benefit of the doubt as he was probably trying to figure out where the answer was in the million word responses that the Lord Mayor gave.

Paes is a classic cynic that serves his own interests first and then worries about how he can maintain or grab more power later. Frequently the two overlap. The best thing about the WC and Olypmics is that the Brazilian politicans, and in particular the sport governance shambles, are being exposed as the corrupt amateurs that they are, but I suppose for that to have any effect they would have to have some vergonha na cara - something that is in dreadfully short supply.

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