Brazil: Welcome to Usama’s!

by Fausta Rodriguez Wertz

The World Cup is scheduled to open in Sao Paolo on Thursday June 12th, with performers Claudia Leitte, Pitbull and Jennifer Lopez, but 223 miles away the Rio favelas are in the middle of a worsening crime wave:
Rio chaos in countdown to kick-off
Gunfights and killings in shanty towns have escalated just weeks before the World Cup begins in Brazil
(emphasis added)

“There are two drug gangs and one militia. So it won’t be in two days, it won’t be in a year, that we bring peace quickly,” said Luiz Pezão, the new governor of Rio, after meeting with Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff.

Characterised by its chaotically-built red-brick shanty homes and illicit energy connections, Maré has been a strategic stronghold for Rio’s drug gangs for years, given its location near the airport and one of the main thoroughfares through the city.
. . .

The authorities believe that criminals in Maré have been coordinating attacks in other favelas on the police who have been stationed there as part of the ongoing pacification programme. Since the start of the year, at least 16 officers have been killed.

Street protests continue to rock the country just 45 days away from the opening, so Luiz Felipe Scolari, the coach of Brazil’s national soccer team, is worried as he

told Brazilian television Sunday that protests calling for social change and criticism of the amount of money spent on the tournament “could big-time” be a negative influence on his team.

And call the Bar Rescue guy, folks, since instead of the World’s Most Interesting Man, Usama bin Laden bars are taking over Brazil

Though it may be in poor taste, Fernandes’ hot spot was only the first of bin Laden themed hangouts in Brazil. Mac Margolis of Vocativ found “nearly a dozen Brazilian establishments” named after the former Al-Qaida leader- including a sport where thirsty fans in Rio can shoot a game of pool at Caverna do Bin Laden.

What could possibly go wrong?
faustaFausta Rodriguez Wertz writes on U.S. and Latin American culture and politics at Fausta’s Blog.