If you scope out a map of Brazil listing crime, you could quickly see for yourself why there is so much concern about the site of the 2014 World Cup. How valid are the concerns over safety for the biggest sporting event in the world? I did a little research myself.
Home to some 1.4 million people, the slums that surround the city of Rio are the source of most of the public’s fears. From drug trafficking to homicide, Rio is giving many tourists the impression that their lives are in danger simply by attending the World Cup.
Brazil is scrambling to contain Rio with mixed results. A rather oppressive form of military occupation has pervaded the slums, deemed ‘rescue operations’. Residents believe the tactics used by militant groups are excessive, suggesting the danger could be more on account of the people put in place to remedy the situation.
While the official homicide rate appears to be dropping, the number of disappearances is on an alarming upward trajectory. Residents believe suspected criminals apprehended by law enforcement have been killed, a potential reality that could dilute the actual homicide rate. It’s possible one statistic, the lower homicide rate, is simply to make up for the increased disappearances and no positive change has come to Rio.
The military occupation is obviously a last ditch effort to address the homicides occurring already, most commonly associated with drug trafficking. In some neighborhoods in Brazil, the punishment for selling drugs outside of your ‘zone’ is always death.
The dealers in many cases will pay off police officials from entering their neighborhoods. This being a regular occurrence among powerful traffickers shows that the problems in Rio aren’t really being resolved, they’re being swept under the rug in preparation of the coming festivities.
The sad reality is that Brazil is spending a fortune between the Olympics and the World Cup that should ultimately prove to shortchange the future for its people even further. The prevailing poverty in the region opens the door to some huge moral dilemmas – why is the government on the brink of complete financial ruin spending millions on entertainment?
No doubt about it, Rio and much of Brazil will be a dangerous place to visit for international tourists. If you’re thinking about attending the World Cup or the Olympics for that matter, exercise serious precaution. While I assume the areas surrounding the stadiums will be secure, danger looms just over the hills in Rio.