HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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20 November 2013

Dengue, Dudu, Dirceu

Now a UNESCO heritage site but always projected as a  landscape
 frontier for capital accumulation
Still believing the Brazil hype? I´ll just touch on three issues in this post, and do not want to be a haranguing voice of despair but until there is good evidence that urban conditions are being materially improved by mega-events or that a meaningful social change towards a more just society is evident, I´ll continue to point out the gaping holes in the gold-framed 17th century landscape painting hung on Brazil´s front door.

 Dengue is still a major problem in Brazil, particularly in 6 of the World Cup host cities (doubling of deaths since 2010 and 217,885 declared cases in Brazil in 2013). Dengue is not really that hard to eliminate if there is sufficient investment in sanitation and a focuses public education program to eliminate stagnant pools of fetid water. The chances of getting dengue are still pretty slim, unless you are living in a poor area of town or in low lying areas, or at a job site…

For the World Cup there is a thing called the Matrix of Responsibilities that each city agrees to as part of its host city contract. In Rio, for instance, the Matrix includes  the Maracanã and the Transcarioca. Of course, the opportunity to include pet projects in all of this in order to “maximize” (read: make as much money as possible) the benefit of the mega-event is irresistible. In some cases, such as Brasilia, none of the urban mobility projects made it off paper and have since been eliminated from the matrix. In Cuiabá, all of the urban mobility projects began on the same day, immobilizing the city for years. Not even Neo could get to work on time in Cuiabá.  In Rio, the re-organization of transport lines in order to make more room for cars has made an impossibly bad system even worse. The mayor first asked for residents to be patient and now has told them to leave work early. Some have suggested that he take his own advice. I wonder how this kind of brutal, arrogant indifference is measured by IBM´s smart city machines. Want to find out the best place to get into gridlock? The new Iphone 5s will cost R$3,600 in Brazil and the promised G4 network likely won´t work.

At least there has been some movement towards completing prison sentences for the corrupt operators of the PT´s monthly kickback scheme. Of course, nothing will stick to the former president even though his former chief of staff and the majority of the PT´s inner circle have now been dragged off to prison. Of course it is good that these convicted criminals have to submit to the law of the land (even though prisons in and of themselves are good for no one). This may indicate that something has indeed shifted positively in the Brazilian justice system.

We know that Brazil already has the most expensive football tickets in the world (relative to minimum wage), but what C.R. Flamengo has done to their fans is beyond the pale. After reaching the final of the Copa do Brasil, the cheapest tickets for the final at the Xaracanã were set at R$250. Minimum wage in Brazil, R$690 a month. A judge intervened and set the cheapest tickets at R$120. The Brazilian clubs are run by amateurs who are articulated politically with a closed and cloistered national football federation that is mirrored by a 2014 Organizing Committee that has no information about its organizing structure and that is trying desperately to convince Brazilians that the World Cup is going to be the best ever. Can we stop with the charade that football tournaments are adequate tools for urban and social development? Mesmo sendo um sapo tamanho cristo redentor, stopping the bombast would make the transfer of wealth program that is the World Cup a little easier to swallow. 

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