Scott: Hosting world class sporting events like the Olympics and the World Cup can draw massive crowds which can stimulate the local economy. But when preparing for the worldwide spotlight, the cost can be about more than just the money. And now, Maggie Rulli shows us how locals are dealing with it.
Maggie: Brazil recently finished construction on one of the most iconic soccer stadiums in the world.
This is the legendary Maracanã Stadium, and it just received a $500 million facelift. Now, this is just the first of many renovations in Rio for the upcoming events. It is expected to cost the city more than $40 billion. The Maracanã Stadium will host the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics. And it is just one of the twelve stadiums that will be built or renovated. Also on Brazil’s to-do list: plans to upgrade its transportation system and infrastructure. But all this will cost, and very likely much more than the 30 billion initially budgeted for the events. Protestors say these upgrades are mainly for outsiders and they want the world to also see the gritty realities of their everyday lives.
One out of every five people living in Rio live in a slum just like this one, or as they are known here, favelas. The favelas overflow with poverty, gangs and violence, making Brazil one of the most violent countries in the world. After Rio was confirmed for the Olympics, the government began pacifying the favelas in 2008, establishing a police presence in places they once avoided entirely.
Antonio de Lira is a taxi driver in Rio, and he says these programs don’t solve anything.
Antonio de Lira: They are just there for the public to forget a bit about the security. We don’t have security in the streets. If you go out, you will be assaulted.
Maggie: Antonio took us to a favela where the government has been pressuring locals to leave their homes.
We are at Autodromo, a community right on the edge of Olympic Village. The residents that live here are refusing to move.
Altair: I know how bad it is when you are taken from the place where you live and you are taken to another place by force.
Maggie: Altair is one of the 1.5 million Brazilians who are scheduled to be relocated before 2014. He says that the government is pushing aside the needs of their own people for a month-long sporting event.
Altair: You should invest your money in and around a community because we’ve had a bad situation in the slums. You can change a community – and not just the minority, but a majority.
Maggie: But the government insists that its own citizens remain a top priority.
Mayor Eduardo Paes: Brazil, today, has come to a point that we can deliver the World Cup, we can deliver the Olympics and we have the conditions to deliver also the social services. So it’s not the World Cup, the pope or the Olympics against health and education. We got to deliver everything and one helps the other.
Maggie: The mayor also said these events will lead to improvements in infrastructure and boost tourism. Plans to invest more money in education and healthcare were also recently announced. Yet many remain skeptical and vow the protests will continue until actions replace words. Still protestors like Gustavo say the movement for change make them hopeful about the future.
Gustavo: It’s really a moment that we are doing things. And I feel happy about it. I feel this hope that it’s going to change, it’s going to be better.
Maggie: So you are very positive about the protest and about where you see Brazil in the future.
Gustavo: Yes, I’m really positive. I think it’s a Brazilian thing, actually, just to be positive about things. We’re doing things. We have risen to be positive.
Maggie: Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.
Scott: Still wanting more from Maggie’s trip to Brazil? Well, we have got you covered. Head to Channelone.com to get your fix.