Scandals, corruption, money laundering, the worst recession in 25 years in Brazil threaten to put a damper on the 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Brazil depends heavily on its oil revenues for much of its economy. The world price for petroleum has plummeted and Brazil is suffering. Added to that a two year investigation of the state owned Petrobras corporation, dubbed Operation Car Wash, has uncovered suspicion that over one billion dollars in revenue has been siphoned off by corrupt officials. The timeline starts when the Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff was chair of the corporation.
Many of Rousseff’s inner circle are under suspicion. The president is facing impeachment and may be out of office before August. Former president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been taken into custody for questioning. He was released after a short period. Rousseff’s gambit to make him a member of the current government to shield him from court has failed as the country’s judges have ruled the move illegal.
The economic recession has hit the preparations for the Olympic venues hard. Some venues have been hit with budget cuts and the contracts for the equestrian and tennis venues were recinded. The police chief for Rio made a statement that his budget has just been cut by $600 million US. It is difficult to imagine that security will not be affected by such a massive cut.
Some of the sailing and water sports facilities have already been modified. The concern over the heavily polluted water around Rio de Janeiro has some athletes taking extreme measures to avoid contamination. While Rio has a modern face, many of the home and apartment buildings lack basic sewer connections or treatment and raw sewage flows into most of the waterways. One of the promises made when competing to hold this year’s games was the promise to clean up the waterways. It didn’t happen.
It seems unbelievable that on top of all the scandal and uproar in Brazilian politics that anything more could be added to the mix, but the epidemic of the mosquito borne Zika virus has prompted WHO to declare a health emergency. Coupled with what might be a mild viral infection is the real possibility that the virus causes profound damage to the unborn. It has also been implicated in an increase in Guillain Barre Syndrome which can cause paralysis and/or death. Women who might be pregnant or who might become pregnant have been warned of the dangers of travelling to Brazil or other affected countries.
This last week, about 2 million people marched in the streets of Rio to announce their displeasure with their government’s handling of affairs.
By the same author:
Brazil in crisis
Rotten fish float in Rio Olympic lagoon
Rio holds junior world championships in dirty water
Brazil 2016 Olympics if you go be very very careful
This last summer Erik Heil, Germany, participated in an Olympic test event in Guanabara Bay and contracted a flesh eating disease. He spent some painful time in a German hospital having the dead flesh scraped off his hips and legs.
Other athletes participating in the summer exercise came down with various ailments at a rate double that normally encountered. No count was kept of those who fell ill within two weeks of returning to their home countries.
An expert in viral infections from Texas Health Center, Houston, Kristina Mena has stated that as little as three teaspoons of the Bay’s water ingested gives the athletes a 99% chance of being infected with a virus.
The famous and scenic Copacabana Beach is dangerously polluted.
Some of the water sports that will be held in the microbe laden waters:
“We’re talking about an extreme environment, where the pollution is so high that exposure is imminent and the chance of infection very likely.” The Guardian
If any of the more than 10 000 athletes expected in the Brazilian city this August should fall ill with gastrointestinal or worse problems, they probably won’t find much comfort in their accommodations. As a cost saving measure it has been decided to not air condition the bedrooms of the athletes. Temperatures in August hover in the 35 degree Celsius range(95 Fahrenheit).
In fact, electricity may be in short supply as a firm contract with the private electrical company has not been signed. The venue may have to depend on generator power.
Rio de Janeiro City Guide
Brazil’s largest city, Sao Paulo, has just witnessed the massacre of 19 men in the space of three hours. Ten of the men were in a bar when masked men entered and asked who had criminal records. Those that replied with a yes were shot to death. Within the next few hours nine more men were shot dead. While the head of Sao Paulo’s police surmised that it may have been the activity of drug gangs, others are pointing towards the police themselves.
Recently two policemen in Sao Paulo were killed in the line of duty. This blood-letting may have been a reprisal action.
Amnesty International is calling the incident a massacre and pointing out that it is not as unusual as it should be.
“ Roque, who heads the organization's Brazil branch, said "unfortunately massacres like this one in Sao Paulo have become part of the routine of violence in our cities."ABC News
The problem of violent crime is not confined to Sao Paulo. The World Health Organization places Brazil in the top 20 for intentional killings. The drug trade and alcoholism is blamed as motives for many homicides.
Other criminal activities are common in Brazil’s cities. Carjacking, pickpockets, bag snatching and kidnapping in order to make the victim access an ATM are all common in the cities.
Of lesser interest to tourists is the rate of corruption. Brazil is rated at 43 in the listings, tied with Bulgaria and Greece. That is unless you are required to pay a fine that is exactly the same amount as your daily limit at an ATM machine.
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