HUNTING WHITE ELEPHANTS / CAÇANDO ELEFANTES BRANCOS

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14 May 2013

Brazilian Porn redux, with Mr. Balls!


There was a brief moment when I allowed myself to believe that the perversions of Rio’s mad rush to privatize life might have hit a democratic roadblock.

After the May 9th “revelation” that the Maracanã was being awarded to the same company contracted to do the economic viability study, on May 10th Judge Gilsele Guida de Faria suspended the decision. In her ruling, the judge pointed out a million obvious things wrong with the contract including the lack of transparency, the conflicts of interest, and the huge loss of money for the public.

The most shocking piece of datum was this: the economic viability study suggested that the private management company would make approximately R$157,025,000 per year while paying the state a rent of R$4,500,000 (2.86% of profits). If this isn`t a direct transfer of wealth from public to private hands, then there are still WMDs in Iraq.

Mr. Balls enters the running for FIFA uber-mascot.
Once he parachutes into the stadium, a thousand
Fulecos will roll out of the ruptured scrotum.  
Beyond the financials and complete ludicrousness of privatizing one of the world`s most famous stadiums (after having totally disfigured it), the troubling element for Cariocas and Brazilians should be the fact that their democracy has been kicked in the Mr. Balls so hard that its growth may be permanently stunted. What we saw here was a state level judge identifying potential illegal activity on the part of the executive and sending down a ruling to stop the loss of public goods. The executive branch then cranked up its lawyers, went to the president of the tribunal to say “this will be a grave threat to public order and economic stability”. The president of the tribunal, Leila Mariano (who will no doubt have received future political or current financial benefit), ruled last night to suspend the suspension, allowing everything to fall into place so that public culture and a fledging democracy can be pulverized, put into pipes and smoked.

This ruling represents the end of checks and balances in Rio de Janeiro`s democrapitalist system. The Maracanã, tortured into submission will likely spend the next 35 years as a pet monkey held on a leash held by Brazil`s biggest capital interests. The novela of the Maracanã will continue but as with all porn flicks we know the sticky, unilateral ending.  

10 May 2013

Pornographic Brazilian Pornography


There was yet more death and mayhem on the streets of Rio as another cyclist was killed. This time (as opposed to the triathlete killed in Leblon) there will be no solidarity cycle and no collective gnashing of teeth  as the cyclist was working, delivering water and gas canisters along impossibly crowded streets in the Zona Norte. The second paragraph in the ever-sensitive O Bobo was dedicated to the traffic problems caused by the accident. An excellent mapping initiative that will register crimes committed against cyclists has come of these recent deaths, but Rio remains an insanely dangerous place to ride a bike.

Following the death in Leblon, O Bobo revealed that on average, Rio’s buses accumulate traffic fines like the Guarda Municipal collects crack addicts. One bus on the line that killed the triathlete had 136 infractions in four years.  There have been innumerable fawning media reports about Rio’s intelligent city project and the mayor has used his technological initiatives to hobnob with the global elite (really looking forward to that Clinton visit in December!). But what’s the point of having an expensive IBM monitoring system when all you can do is watch in HD the streets flood and people get killed by buses? A “smart city” doesn’t willfully place its citizens at risk and then spend millions to watch them suffer.

Way back in 2007 when no one outside of Rio knew the name Eduardo Paes, he was plugging away as Rio’s state secretary of sport and leisure as the city prepared for the Pan American Games. The Olympic Stadium was over budget, poorly placed, behind schedule and, surprise surprise, poorly constructed. It also took on the name of a corrupt and disgraced former FIFA president. The stadium, like its declining namesake, has been closed for business because the roof is about to fall down. It has likely been in this condition for some time and the public has been at risk for years. Paes explained the other day that the stadium was constructed in a hurry  and that he was not at the head of the city government at the time so, hey, what can you do about the past? What exactly was Paes doing in his position of the state’s most important sporting institution when the stadium was constructed? If it is anything like the current secretary of Sport and Leisure, he likely gave nonsensical and offensive interviews with the intention of using the position as a political springboard. (Amber Alert: Marcia Lins).

Oh yes, because of old João’s peccadilloes with the ISL case and FIFA bribery he has not only had to resign from his honorary position at the IOC, but also at FIFA. The mayor-king has also given a green light for the changing of the Engenhão stadium name saying, “I’ve changed the name of a lot of things in Rio. I’ve changed them because I waned to. Botafogo has the naming rights and can call the stadium whatever it wants.” A little known fact is that Botafogo F.R. (who has the concessionary rights for a song) changed the name of the stadium years ago to Stadium Rio. Maybe we should change the name to Joana Havelange, João’s granddaughter who is one of the top people on the 2014 WC organizing committee, just to keep the black box clamped shut. More reasonably, there is a movement by several of Rio’s council people to put the name Nilton Santos on the Engenhão. Personally, I think the name Milton Santos would elevate geo-political consciousness a bit more (if you’re into geography porn).

In case all of this news didn’t excite you, here’s the money shot: After 63 years in the public domain, more than 750 million dollars of deforms in the last six years and a total dis-characterization of one of the world’s greatest sporting venues,  the Maracanã  has been privatized by the State of Rio de Janeiro. The winning consortium is comprised of IMX (Eike Batista’s main holding company that was contracted by the government to do the economic viability study), Odebrecht (Lula’s favorite civil construction firm), and AEG (a US based entertainment group that owns MLS teams and administers 120 stadiums around the world). The details of the concession are too painful to write down, but the rub is that over the next 35 years the state will receive less than 20% of its investment. I will be looking through this particular slice of this futuristic porn in the coming months but might not have the courage (or falta de vegonha) to write it down.

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