2013-03-19 - Getting Rio on Track

Dentro la Favela Morro Da Providencia

If Brazil were a movie, Rio de Janeiro would be its leading man. Seductive and appealing, it is a city that does not pass unnoticed. Sandwiched between the Guanabara Bay and the last vestige of the Atlantic forest, Rio stretches deep into the ocean creating a suggestive landscape of granite peaks and luscious tropical beaches where modern architecture shares equal glam with a recent colonial past. Rio de Janeiro is, before anything else, a city of pleasure, the favorable latitude and Carioca natural inclination to party led the marvelous city to the top rank of New York Times list of world cities worth to visit. A vibrant agenda, including next World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games, is shifting everyone’s attention from the city stunning views to its rather precarious infrastructures, struggling to satisfy the strict FIFA and COI requirements. The process of transforming Rio in a more functional and safer destination is a challenge that the government has taken to a further level, it feels like the pride of a nation depends on qualifying as a successful host. The city has been neglected since the shift of political power in the sixties to the current capital city, Brasilia, resulting in a dark process of decadency where the city rapidly turned into a melting pot of violence and a tropical hidden temptation for sleazy tourists craving for local beauties. The great numbers behind the public and private investments which are transforming the entire city into a chaotic working site are a clear sign that Rio is ready to byte back and take full advantage of its growing curve.
Human rights activists and environmental watchers are strongly condemning the lack of planning, the notorious blasé attitude of the government and the financial and political real interests behind the ambitious engineering projects that are being scattered around the city. Forced removal of city dwellers, illegal building of five stars hotel and shopping malls in protect natural parks, real estate speculation and general lack of communication and transparency have raised suspicions and discontent. People are beginning to wonder if these events will actually bring some real benefits to the city and its inhabitants or will only fatten up the greedy claws of corrupt politicians and local tycoons.
Should a country that counts 14 million analphabets and stagnates at number 85 in the rank of Human Development Index spend the equivalent of 389,000 Euro per day, since 2010, to rebuild a stadium?
This and other controversial issues will be exposed and analyzed with the help of local experts and backed up by figures and interviews, an investigative article featuring not only the readiness (or lack of it) of Rio de Janeiro for the upcoming sport events but the true legacy that will stay with the city in a long term prospect.

Chiara Rimoldi