Blame it on Rio

Have you ever noticed that everyone else’s house or apartment is cleaner than yours?

That’s because your arrival is usually expected, and a certain amount of cleaning up happens before you get there. So, you experience everyone else’s home cleaned up but your own crib just the way it is.

Like China. Before everybody came over to China for the Olympics, they cleaned up their air and some other stuff. I’m not sure how they managed it. When the Olympics were in Greece, about a month or so before people started to arrive, the Greek Army showed up in Athens and surrounding communities and shot every dog they found, dragging the carcases off to who knows where. Or at least, that’s what I’m told by a reliable source on the scene. Athens has (well, had) a lot of stray dogs running around and apparently the Greek authorities thought this to be a little third-world, so they got rid of them.

And now, still years before the Olympics in Rio, authorities are cleaning house. The police and army have driven all the drug dealers into one neighborhood, killed a few of them, and are prepared to move into the “hillside slum” and do them all in, apparently along with any innocent bystanders who may be in the vicinity. It’s actually a three way stand-off at this point: The Rio police, the drug traffickers, and the international Human Rights community who is urging the authorities to avoid a massacre of the innocents.

It looks like there will be, though we can certainly hope not. And, if there is, it will be interesting to see how the international community responds. Will it be OK to attend the Olympics in Rio if, say, five or six innocent bystanders are killed during a major police action to arrest a few dozen bad guys? What about a dozen innocent bystanders? A hundred? Will it depend on how bad the bad guys are? Will it depend on how many innocent bystanders are killed by bad guy bullets vs. police bullets? Will it depend on how much TV time the funerals of the babies and others get? Is it in the interest of the Olympic Committee to a) clean up Rio and then quiet down the protests or b) avoid a human rights fiasco even if the slums stay semi-criminalized?

This makes me wonder what else is going on in Rio. This is probably not a mystery, just something I don’t know about: Is there an effort to clean up Rio as a disease party palace? What if there’s an outbreak of some nasty influenza that starts here, just before the Olympic Games? Will people avoid the Olympics if they are preceded or accompanied by a Rio Flu? Will the separation that I think is already planned between the population at large in this very densely populated city and the Olympic goers become more overt when they have to say to the visiting hordes “Don’t worry, none of our people will be let near you”?

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12 thoughts on “Blame it on Rio

  1. Following several scandals, the excuse of the Olympics to “clean up” – as in “ethnic cleansing” – the downtown areas of almost all cities involved in those organized horror shows of new age gladiatorship I learned to despise anything that has top do with the “olympic” idea.
    A wasteful spending of money mostly by countries and municipalities that can ill afford it, neglecting more important infrastructure developments for idiotic “showcasing”.
    The recent Vancouver Olympic antics are a prime example of bullshit ideas gone wild.

    The only solution: execute the fucking olympic commitee for crimes against humanity.

  2. I doubt sports fans would care how many people die so long as the venue is comfortable to them. It’s not only the poor nations which suffer from this; even the wealthier nations truck the poor out to some other place or scare them away so that the olympic venues or exhibition plazas can be built. No one wants to see or smell those filthy po’ folk and international events are a great excuse to get rid of them the easy way.

  3. Will it be OK to attend the Olympics in Rio if, say, five or six innocent bystanders are killed during a major police action to arrest a few dozen bad guys? What about a dozen innocent bystanders? A hundred? Will it depend on how bad the bad guys are?

    Ten days before the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City, at least 44 people (hundreds by other accounts) were killed in the Tlatelolco massacre, where police forces (upgraded for the occasion with equipment supplied by the U.S.) cracked down on a student/union movement that had arisen in protest of the strains the government’s ambitious olympic plans had put on the country. There was some discussion of canceling the event, after that, but ultimately it went ahead as planned and without further incidents. Based on that depressing example, I’d say that the Brazilian government is in the clear unless the piles of bodies rise above rooftop-levels.

  4. Yonks ago, when I was a young fella, in 1953 I reckon, the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II visited Australia.

    At one town the local council decided that the indigenous people living in the dry river bed were a bad image so before QE2 arrived they were rounded up and shipped them elsewhere [not sure of the details] and they allowed to return when QE2 had left.
    Similarly when she was due to visit my home towm the local bigwigs of the council and the major employer [it was/still is a one employer town] decided to clean up the place and the manager of the big company ordered an underling to collect shovels, rakes and the like from the company store [I’m talking large industrial warehouse here] and send out gangs to tidy up the streets, clean up weeds etc.

    But the store was empty.
    There should have been hundreds of shovels and the like but apparently workers had ‘borrowed’ them.
    So the manager declared an amnesty on the return of the implements which duly arrived back in their proper place, the gangs went out and cleaned up the town and the implements were duly ‘borrowed’ again straight after.

    Doubtless QE2 was duly impressed with a desert mining city being weed free.

  5. This is a complex issue, Greg. Rio has been plagued by crime since the late 80’s, with one small strip of the town protected by the police and the other left to defend itself against the hordes of criminals. Believe me, Rio’s violence summed with police inaction/corruption/incompetence led the city to a state of permanent terror. People are afraid to get out after dark, afraid to take buses at night or during holidays, afraid to drive. This violence, along with the raiders, stem from the slumsâ??there, poor people created their own culture and their own laws, with powerful drug gangs forcing themselves to the place once reserved for Kings. Their rule over the slums are absolute, until their luck wane and another dynasty takes over.

    The World Sport events finally awakened the political will to do something about it, and their choice is the one you are discussing now. Similar actions have been done in the past, but not on this scale. Rio even hired Rudy Giuliani to help them with security policy. They want to impose law into lawlessness and free citizens from terror. Now, is this the best possible way to do it? Will cleaning up the slums solve the problem? Aren’t the drug policies, the ones who fed millions into the gangs, responsible for feeding up the violence? These are valid questions. I don’t think cleaning up the place will solve the problem in the long-range, it will merely disrupt and tone down violence for a while, until the next generation takes over. The systemic problems won’t be addressed, the underlying basis of crime will remain, and while the traveler and the resident will probably feel more secure during the World Cup/Olympics, this will be at the cost of maintaining deadly force in the slums.

  6. This is not the only example of how the Olympics create problems. The IOC has also had a big hand in contributing to making bad copyright and trademark regulations in many countries. In some places, such as the US, the IOC essentially controls any interlocking symbol of five rings even if it doesn’t look at all like the Olympic symbol. And they’ve been very litigious about enforcing this.

  7. As I understand it, drug dealers in the slums of Brazil are a lot like Hezbollah in Lebanon. Outwardly they are terrorists or criminals. But they do considerable good in the communities they live in in order to garner popular support. Which is why this is probably going to get ugly.

  8. “Rio even hired Rudy Giuliani to help them with security policy.”

    Wow – what a waste of money! How convenient of Giuliani to claim credit for the NYC reforms which predated his tenure. Then there were the terrorist attacks and once again Giuliani claimed credit where none was due. If he’s really advising people on security policy in Rio, those po’ folk are screwed.

  9. “Have you ever noticed that everyone else’s house or apartment is cleaner than yours?”

    Similar, but not exactly the same as what I call the “restaurant effect.” A restaurant always appears more popular to customers than it actually is, simply because there are more customers to observe it when it is busy.

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