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«Stop the World Cup Before It Kills Again»


Source: Blog da Cidadania.

What is the diference between a works project rubber-stamped “World Cup” and another lacking this seal of approval? A highway overpass is a highway overpass. It is concrete and steel. The purpose for which it is built is unrelated to the quality of its construction.

Last Friday, an overpass collapsed in Belo Horizonte. At the moment, one death and dozens of injuries have been reported.

The project was earmarked for improving access to the Mineirão stadium. Execution of the project was the responsibility of the mayor of Belo Horizonte, Marcio Lacerda (PSB), who maintains ties with PSDB presidential candidate [and for Minas Gerais governor and senator] Aécio Neves (PSDB). The project was financed by the federal government through the national development bank, BNDES.

The project can and must be overseen in regard to its construction. Leaving aside the sabotage theory — and I suspect this theory has not been proposed for reasons explained below — it is obvious that errors of execution occurred.

On the day following the tragedy, however, the top headline on the front page of the Folha de São Paulo, in an obvious attempt to link the 20145 Cup  with the accident:

“Unfinished works project for the Cup collapses
and kills one in Belo Horizonte.”

The collapse of this overpass may well be nothing more than a fatal accident, but in the view of the FSP and its owners, the sky has fallen. These people have suffered a loss of public confidence due to their predictions of a Cup rife with catastrophe.

When the chaos predicted by the Folha and other news organizations failed to materialize, the international press began accusing its Brazilian colleagues of having exaggerated their gloomy predictions.

Doubts about  the accident are circulating on the social networks. Many people believe that political groups and press who have tried to use the Cup to tarnish the good name of the federal government would not hesitate to promote sabotage to supply the chaos that so far is lacking.

A Folha editorial on July 4 reveals the paper’s attempt to create political capital from the tragedy.  In the sixth paragraph, the editorial states that the incident “serves as a reminder of how much irresponsibility and lack of planning went into the Cup.”

A reminder? Really? Does the collapse of an overpass, act of sabotage or not, not contradict all over the Folha’s negative coverage of the event in recent years.

The incident proves nothing. In April of this year, for example, another overpass collapsed, this time in São Paulo The disaster took place on the eastern throughway of the Rodoanel, a project of the state government. Like the most recent accident, it killed one person. And it was not a public work project related to the Cup.

Ask the opposition newspaper of record: did this collapse prove that the Rodoanel is being built “irresponsibly and piecemeal?”

Brazilian readers are already familiar with the lack of character of the Folha and its owners. In its obscene war on the Workers Party, the paper once ran a phony police file on Rousseff, the current president of the republic, and accused her predecessor of being a “rapist,” and so on.

The Frias family has deep historical roots. It supported, aided and abetted the crimes of the military dictatorship. It constantly runs lies and low blows using the same media group that thrived under the generals. So why would it hesitate to explore a tragedy for political ends?

The Folha editorial attempts to brand the World Cup as a whole using an episode which, if not the result of sabotage, is an ordinary mishap. Engineering mistakes happen. They happened recently at a Rodoanel job site, much as they happen in every other country in the world.

The fact that this was “a public works project for the World Cup” does not justify the tawdry headline. In face, the Cup is not at fault. Aliás, se responsabilidade há, não é culpa da Copa. For quite some time, it has been managed by the city of Belo Horizonte, which, as it happens, is governed by opposition to the federal administration.

PS: Checking the other papers, the term  “World Cup public works project” was used in exactly the same way by other newspapers of the kind that operates in opposition to the federal government. Incredibly, the Estado de S. Paulo and O Globo took the same line as the Folha.

“Incredibly” is ironic. The Big 3 often plagiarize one another’s top headlines. The Folha and O Globo are partners in Valor Econômico, for example, which aspires to becoming the lusophone FT or W$J.

Personal Aside

By the by: the city (PT) and state (PSDB) of São Paulo have teamed up to produce a relatively incident-free series of matches at the Art Deco stadium of Corinthians.

A notorious Argentine hooligan leader was arrested yesterday.

In our neighborhood, a well-known night club district, police managed to keep things under control without macing the mainly out-of-towners en masse, as far as we could see.

There seemed to be a ceasefire in the war on hookers as well — not that there has ever been much of a war on hookers — some pimps are also cops, as an incident at the infamous Help night club in Rio made clear a couple of years ago –but the local authorities and FIFA, in their tourist guides, have made a point of warning fans about the trouble you can find yourself in when you find out she was 14 and lived in a cardboard box.

Writing for the Estadão, a neighborhood columnist takes a catastrophic view as well.

Every day I am obliged to pass through the Vila Madalena — an agreeable  route that was transformed during the Cup into an unbearable nightmare. …

He then reproduces a substantial passage from Kafka, “An Old Manuscript.”

Not us.

As the tournament play began, we went  ate a nice lamb picanha and split a bottle of Argentine syrah at an unusually lively but still civilized Martin Fierro. Troopers were standing around, looking bored. A 1:00 a.m. curfew was enforced. No buses were burned.

The Unsaid

Postscript: if the FSP has dedicated a substantial volume of column inches to the “tragedy,” it has been notably quiet about another (heart)breaking story: The former governor of Minas Gerais, ex-president of the PSDB, who will be going to trial on corruption charges this month.

Google News turns up only one result, in the Diário do Grande ABC — a regional paper produced in a labor-federation and Workers-Party stronghold.

Eduardo Azeredo is accused of using — perhaps even  inventing — the same laundering scheme for which senior Workers Party officials were recently jailed. Publicly funded events — a motocross championship, Rock in Rio — were overbilled by contractors and presto! Phantom cash!