Right Field

Brazil vs. the Poor of Rio

NY Times: Slum Dwellers Are Defying Brazil’s Grand Design for Olympics

Yeah. People tend to act that way when the government tries to take their homes, no matter how modest.

This excerpt stand out comparing Brazil (democracy) with China (dictatorship):

For many Brazilians, holding the 2014 World Cup soccer tournament and the 2016 Olympics on Brazilian soil is the ultimate expression of the nation’s elevation on the world stage, and the events are perfect symbols of its newfound economic prowess and international standing.

But some of the strengths that have enabled Brazil’s democratic rise as a regional power — the vigorous expansion of its middle class, the independence of its news media and the growing expectations of its populace — are bedeviling the preparations for both events.

At stadium sites, construction workers, eager to share in the surging wealth around them and newly empowered by the nation’s historically low unemployment rate, are pushing aggressively for wage increases.

Unions have already held strikes in at least eight cities where stadiums for the soccer tournament are being built or refurbished, including a stoppage in February by 500 laborers in the northeast city of Fortaleza, and a national movement of 25,000 workers at World Cup sites has threatened to go on strike.

Construction delays are fueling problems with FIFA, soccer’s world governing body. The group’s secretary general, Jerome Valcke, said late last week that Brazilian organizers were falling behind, adding, “You have to push yourself, kick your arse.” Brazil’s sports minister hit back over the weekend, saying Mr. Valcke’s comments were “offensive.”

Meanwhile, residents in some of the favelas, or slums, who face eviction are pulling together and standing their ground, in stark contrast to the preparations for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, where authorities easily removed hundreds of thousands of families from the city for the Games.

Exit question: Will NBC News cover this?

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