HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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23 October 2013

Forests and Trees

Favela da Paz, São Paulo. 500 meters from WC stadium
Another week of protests, teachers still on strike, violent police actions, sewage bubbling on residential streets, ill-conceived plans to rework the traffic flows in the city center, international consultants jetting in to pat each other on the back for their clear vision and well-manicured lives, disappearances and summary executions by “pacification” police, diminishing football crowds and record profits, real-estate speculation, institutional blinkardness, macro-economic troubles, frustrated expectations and a constant battle to make the simple things work. Despite the rot these trees of discontent still make for a lovely forest – if you can afford it.

Corinthians/Itaquera WC stadium. R$820 million
The longer I live in Brazil the more clear it becomes that the country is being shaped to guarantee basic human rights to those that can afford to purchase them. In Rio, the access to mobility, education, health care, leisure, sanitation, water and air is conditioned by one´s position in the forest of capitalismo selvagem. Personally, I can´t complain as I have a good job, a foreign passport, a nice apartment and can afford to buy private health care and live in a part of the city that is replete with cultural and environmental amenities. I will not be removed from my house for Olympic transportation lines and do not have my world dominated by milicias, traficantes or the military police. The vast majority of the 13 million residents of Rio do not live like this.


The arrival of the World Cup and Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (and Brazil) are accelerating and consolidating a number of disturbing trajectories. The protests are an attempt to end the processes of privatization, urban fragmentation, spatial isolation, militarization, elitização, forgetting and obfuscation. There are innumerable examples of all of these processes that cannot be attributed to one particular actor. One of the horrible
The fundamental question for the future of the World Cup. Favela da Paz, S.P.
beauties of these events is that they bring together temporary governance regimes and non-state actors that create vacuums of responsibility. FIFA can´t interfere in what the government does, the government has to agree to FIFA demands. The IOC has “certain needs” that the city is obliged to meet, yet the IOC can´t demand that the projects meet social needs. The mega-event coalition uses the state apparatus (within which mayors and governors are sub-altern agents of capital) to divert finances to the creative destruction of a host city. The mega-event industrial complex may be nothing more than a colossal shell game run by Fuleco, whose goal is to accumulate and consolidate power.

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