What Rio Doesn’t Want the World to See or Know

The 2016 Olympics has been both a blessing and a curse for the people of Brazil. Can you imagine, suffering the pangs of poverty and your government spends millions, and millions of dollars (Brazilian Reals R$)to ensure that you are kept out of sight – hidden behind walls? This is real folks. The video will explain much of what the people of Rio are experiencing. It is just over 8 minutes long. Take time to view it because the world is being coerced into NOT knowing what is really happening in this beautiful country.

Be not deceived! I lived there for about a year and several things became painfully obvious within a couple of months. The Government is riddled with corruption. Why do I say this? Because they pillage the finances of the country openly. Are you aware of the fact that only 40% of the country has water and sanitation? As a result, the pollution from the favelas occupied mostly by the very poor, drains directly into the rivers and the ocean.

Here are just a few notes to be aware of. Lesson No. 1: Be VERY careful where you swim. Think about it – it really does matter. Although the Government did promise to clean it up, the water is still extremely polluted. Lesson No. 2: Ensure that you read our article about The Do’s & Don’ts of Travelling to Brazil – this article has some valuable information that will keep you safe. Lesson No. 3: The Brazilian people are a friendly people so if you want to know something, just ask? It is best to get the real story from the people who are living it although experiences will vary depending on who you ask. So be mindful of who the messenger really is and learn how to travel and get the most out of your trip.

Latest Crime Reports: Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro is the second largest city in Brazil and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world. Needless to say, the upcoming Summer Olympic Games has drawn some serious attention to Rio’s current situation. A review of the latest news from Rio, reports on crime, take precedence.

By NADIA SUSSMAN | Nov. 10, 2015 | 8:23

Muggings (purse-snatchings) and gun crimes are among the most common crimes in Rio. Needless to say, travelers are particularly at risk of being attacked by robbers especially during the evening and at night in areas close to the major attractions in the city. For example, quite a few incidents have already occurred along the trails that lead to the gigantic statue of Christ the Redeemer which is located on top of the Corocovado Mountain and the Tijuca Forest which is located below the Mountain. Both are highly travelled by visitors and tourists. Warning: In such a situation, travelers are advised not to fight back and/or resist but to surrender their belongings in order to stay safe. But what is most advisable as suggested in our Travel Do’s and Dont’s article, is to travel in groups, leave most of your money and your valuables at home or at the hotel and remain focused at ALL times while you are in public places.
The good news is that the city’s homicide rate has reportedly decreased by almost 50% from 2005 – 2012. Rio’s rapidly expanding Police Force has worked hard to drastically reduce the city’s murder rate by introducing an innovative crime fighting strategy about 6 years go. This new approach, which is considerably different in comparison to the shock-troop approach which prevailed for many years, has proven to be highly effective.
Nevertheless, travelers are continuously being issued warnings to ensure their safety. The favelas of Rio de Janeiro are a source of curiosity for travellers from developed countries. In 2008, a favela pacification program was instituted in certain favelas such as those in the Zona Sul. Why? Because many favelas in Rio exist beyond the limits of the police and other city officials. So what does it really mean to say some favelas are considered ‘pacified?’ According to Wikipedia, the Pacifying Police Unit (Portuguese: Unidade de Polícia Pacificadora, also translated as Police Pacification Unit), abbreviated UPP, is a law enforcement and social services program pioneered in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which aims at reclaiming territories, more commonly favelas, controlled by gangs of drug dealers. So travelers can visit at their own risk, but visitors are therefore encouraged to steer clear of favelas that are not pacified by the Government and to exercise extreme caution when visiting pacified favelas.
Some local companies in Rio offer hostel facilities, and room rentals in various favelas, and even offer favela jeep tours to allow tourists an opportunity to explore the areas. However, be aware that even in the pacified favelas, police protection may be limited, especially at night. According to local news reports, there has been violence related problems in pacified favelas such as Rocinha and Complexo de Alemao. If you choose to tour or to stay in a favela, neither the city police nor the tour company will be able to guarantee your safety.
Currently, in preparation for the 2016 Olympics, the Government of Brazil is working hard at cleaning up the favelas of Rio before the games start and the visitors start pouring in. The State Government of Rio issued a statement on the 3rd of April, 2015, about a possible military occupation of the Complexo do Alemao favela in an attempt to reduce crimes. However, there has been some controversy surrounding how this move could pose a threat to the lives of innocent residents and their daily lifestyle.
All in all, travellers are once again, recommended to exercise extreme caution when it comes to going out at night in Brazil. There have even been reports of carjacking incidents on Linha Vermelha, the road that links Rio’s southern zone, to the airport. Therefore, motorists are not exempt from exercising caution at night as well. For the moment, public transportation is also quite risky and one of the the best ways of getting around is the yellow taxis on which the company information, red license plates and phone numbers are openly displayed. When it comes to choosing accommodations, it is best to look for reputable establishments that are located in safe areas and provides adequate safety measures to protect you, your family and your belongings. Rio de Janeiro is a place for the street savvy and quick thinker. If you intend to explore the city’s many beautiful attractions and you desire to stay safe, be careful and alert at all times.

“Must See” Sights in Rio

If you plan on attending the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, make sure to leave room in your itinerary to check out some of the most fascinating, “must see” attractions in Rio. Your visit will not be complete if you don’t. Here are some of our favorites.

Sight Seeing in RioChrist the Redeemer – The Statue of Christ the Redeemer (or Cristo Redentor) is located on top of Corcovado Mountain at 2300 feet above the city. In 2007, the iconic statue was voted as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Christ the Redeemer is also the world’s largest art deco statue and measures 130 feet in height with an arm span of 98 feet. The magnificent sandstone and concrete statue was unveiled in 1931. The statue provides some excellent views of the city especially on clear days. Visitors can take the cog train to the top of Corcado or reach the statue via taxi, or bus.

Corcovado Mountain – This mountain was originally named Pinaculo da Tentaco or the Pinnacle of Temptation by the Portuguese settlers. Later on, it was renamed Corcovado for its distinct hunchback shape. The mountain is located inside the Tijuca Forest National Park. At 2300 feet, the Corcovado Mountain towers over the city of Rio. Aside from its magnificent natural beauty, the mountain is also noted for being the foothold of Christ the Redeemer. The roads which were originally built for the railroad are still used to provide access to the top of the Corcovado Mountain. Travellers can also take the electrical train which carries around 360 people up and down the mountain every 60 minutes. Bear in mind that transportation tends to get very busy during peak hours.

Sugarloaf Mountain – Sugarloaf is a world famous natural landSugar Loaf Mountain Riomark. It is one of the most recognized attractions in the city of Rio. It is named for its shape with soil that resembles a type of refined sugar used in the 19th century. Sugarloaf Mountain is a great place for urban rock climbing with the historic Guanabara Bay at its base. The mountain is 1299 feet in height and can be accessed via the cable car which was installed in 1912.

Ipanema Beach and Copacabana Beach – The famous Copacabana Beach is a must to visit when in Rio. The beautiful crescent shaped beach features warm sand, sunbathing travellers, various vendors and musicians. There are several sidewalk cafes for visitors to grab a drink and a bite. The beach is especially lively in the evenings. The Ipaneba Beach is another beautiful beach that stretches for about 1.25 miles and is much cleaner in comparison to Copacabana. This lovely beach is the perfect destination for a relaxed, romantic evening.

Escadaria Selarón – The famous stairway, also known as Selarón’s Staircase, was refurbished by Jorge Selarón, a painter and sculptor who migrated from Chile. He settled in Rio in 1983 and began renovating the steps in 1990.  Regardless of his losses, this became a labor of love for the artist.  He eventually resorted to accepting donations from the locals and tourists to complete the staircase which consists of 250 steps that span for 125 meters, connecting the Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods. Aside from its size, the Selaron_StepsEscadaria Selarón has been a favourite for many visitors because of its fascinating décor. These steps are decorated with over 2000 colorful tiles from various countries. This attraction is widely popular and has been featured in National Geographic Magazine, music videos, travel shows and even Fanta commercials. Recently, the colorful steps also appeared in “The Passion Unites Us” – Rio’s video bid for the 2016 Olympics.

Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro – The Old Cathedral of Rio de Janeiro is considered to be the heart of the city. Dedicated to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the magnificent 19th century church is one of the most important historical structures in the city. Featuring Rococo style interiors with stunning wood carvings, white walls and golden trimmings, the church definitely has a regal air. The Portuguese Royal Family used the church as the Royal Chapel and then the Brazilian Imperial Family has used it as the Imperial Church. Located on the Rua Primeiro de Março, the church is accessible for free from 8am – 6pm from Monday to Friday.

Walking & Riding tours – Touring the city of Rio is one of the best ways to learn walking Tour - Sao Pauloabout the city. Walking tours are offered at many establishments all over Rio where visitors can get together with locals or other travellers to explore the city. These tours may cover various interests such as historical attractions, evening bar crawls or even Segway tours if you prefer not to walk. Visitors can even choose from horseback riding tours and bicycle tours to cover more ground and to enjoy a novel experience. Some walking tours are offered for free with a request for a donation at the end.

Travel Do’s and Don’ts

Many visitors may be fortunate enough NOT to experience any direct crime while travelling in Brazil but these Do’s and Don’ts are given as a matter of information and as a warning. Here’s an example of what happened to my friend who was walking down a main street late in the afternoon. He felt something wet land on his back, and shoulders. He started to wipe the mysterious goo off (which turned out to be yogurt) when two middle-aged women came from behind to help. By the time they finished helping to wipe him clean, they had his cell phone and his wallet and had disappeared into the evening. So take heed:

DOsDONTSDO:

Be careful when walking the streets. Brazil is a huge country with bustling city streets. It pays to be alert. As a pedestrian, do make sure you look in all directions before crossing the street.

Leave your valuables secured at your hotel/lodging. Only travel with the funds that you need. Leave your valuables and most of your money and important paperwork (your passport, your identification, credit cards etc.) stored in a safe place. Carry only the funds you need for the day with you. Do carry a copy of your paperwork with you if you really need to have it with you, but leave the originals secured at your accommodations.

Use available Resources. a) If you do not speak Portuguese, use the translator on your phone or tablet and show the person to whom you are addressing, exactly what you want to say in their language. b) Use the map finder on your phone or tablet so you can find your way around the city.  c) Since your accommodation staff are most likely familiar with the area, to ensure your safety, always check with the staff who will direct you on where to go and where not to go. Brazilians are very supportive. Be selective, but accept their help if offered.

Convert your Currency. U.S. dollars and other currencies are not commonly used in Brazil. The locals use their own currency called reals. So go to a currency exchange at the airport or at various locations in the city and convert your currency as soon as possible because most vendors will not know the conversion rate from one currency to the other. You will also be able to get a better rate in the city.  Remember to take your passport as it is required in order to make the exchange but the process can be simplified if you ask a Brazilian person you trust to do the exchange. Also if you need to withdraw money, choose an ATM that is located inside of a mall or a bank rather than one located on the street.

Be constantly attentive to what is happening around you. It is not considered rude or strange to make eye contact as you walk through the streets and marketplaces. It is encouraged especially when travelling on public transportation – buses, trains etc. Pickpockets are ever present so it is advisable to keep your eyes peeled as they too are aware that if you do not make eye contact, then there is a good chance a perpetrator will not be able to be identified if a crime takes place.

Be aware that crime is prevalent. In and around the bustling cities of Brazil, pickpocketing is widespread particular in the areas where the tourists and the locals gather and shop. Therefore, when visiting a very busy area, it is advisable to not wear valuables such as jewelry and wristwatches and if you carry such items as cameras, wallets etc., secure them on your person where they cannot be seen or taken.

Wear your Backpack backwards. When visiting a busy area, wear your backpack, hand bag or fanny-pack in front of you (and not behind you or on your side) at all times.

DON’T:

Stay at really cheap accommodation. The smaller accommodations may save you a few dollars but they may not be able to offer the safety, security and conveniences of larger establishments.

Leave your personal items unattended. Because Brazil is so huge and the cities are bustling places, avoid leaving your packages, your luggage or any other personal possessions unattended.

Walk the streets at night. Avoid wandering the streets or strolling along the beaches after dark.

Get drunk. Brazilians enjoy liquor as well but they are not often intoxicated and do not respect others who over-indulge.

Use drugs. It is illegal to use or be in possession of drugs in Brazil.

Hire prostitutes. It is not unusual for prostitutes to supplement their income by robbing their clients.

Give money to vagrants. This is discouraged. Although these persons pose little or no physical danger, they should not be supported financially.

Purchase Tickets for 2016 Olympics

This is a summary of how to purchase tickets to go to the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil. It will take you to a whole new sphere in ticketing because there are a number of requirements that you may not have experienced before. In addition to the 5 venues, in a language that most of us do not understand, there will be specific ticket resellers known as ATRs – Authorized Ticket Resellers, www.rio2016.com/spectators – who have been approved to sell tickets to anyone who lives outside of Brazil.

For persons who live in Brazil, there are also requirements. Anyone who buys tickets must first be over 18 years of age and have a CPF number – similar to a tax id or social security number. For Members Only (coming soon) – we will be posting the process for getting a CPF number. The identification used to register for tickets must be used to register AND purchase the tickets.

The Ticket Purchase is in 4 stages:

I. Registration – fill out name, address and other data as well as the sports events you would like to see
II. March 2015 – first of two (2) random draws for tickets (all tickets purchased prior to March 2015 will be eligible for this draw). The process of a draw is being used to ensure ticket sales are fair and transparent. It is an independent selection process used to ensure the reliability of the process. To qualify for the next draw, go to the Rio 2016 website to register and to submit an application.
III. October 2015 – second draw which is on a first-come-first-serve basis
IV. June 2016 – spectators can buy any of the remaining ticket at the Olympic box offices.

There are a number of places to purchase tickets but we warn you, it can be confusing. Try the following websites: http://www.tickets4summergames.com/ or http://www.rio2016.com/en (see the Ticketing Guide – All You Need To Know). Changes/updates are being made all the time, so check and recheck any details by registering for the Rio 2006 Newsletters – http://www.rio2016.com/en/news/newsletter.

It has been announced that tickets will also be available at the box office. WARNING! They probably will not be the best of the best seats since the intent is to fill the stadiums at all cost.

RECAP – All persons who live outside of Brazil must purchase tickets through Approved Ticket Resellers (ATRs) for your area of the world. If you decide to get someone who lives in Brazil to purchase tickets for you, remember, the ID (identification) used has to be the SAME for both the registration and the purchase process and will be closely scrutinized. To be sure that you and your family are not disappointed, check the requirements for purchase in the Ticketing Guide referenced above.

2016 Rio Olympics

The Olympics in Rio are Fast Approaching

Olympic-Games-closing-ceremony-and-handover-to-Rio-2016Although the 2016 Olympics in Rio is not currently on our daily news radar, 2016 is fast approaching and the Brazilian people are working extra hard to prepare for it. Added pressure reigns down on this nation since this is the first time that a South American country and the first time that a Portuguese-speaking nation has hosted the Olympic Games – all eyes are looking to this nation with great anticipation. Unfortunately earlier this year, several complaints had been lodged against the leaders of the Rio 2016 Local Organizing Committee to a point where the International Olympic Committee was concerned that they might have to step in to assist in their efforts to ensure that deadlines could be met.
For any nation to prepare for an Olympic Games is a herculean task especially when the Brazilian people, a predominantly poor people, must support its government who is spending billions of dollars towards an event which will last for less than one month – the Olympics will be held August 5th to August 21st, 2016. The hope of the Brazilian government and its people is that the funds spent on the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro will inject billions of dollars back in to their economy just as the World Cup of 2014 had done. It has been reported that the World Cup added $4.4 billion to Rio’s economy. So the members of Rio’s Local 2016 Olympic VenueOrganizing Committee together with the city, state and federal governments are all working in tandem to ensure a memorable but profitable celebration to come for its people and for all attendees.
In keeping with the goal of the Brazilian government and its people, the Olympic Park is bustling with activities in preparation of the big event. The Park is made up of four competition zones. They are as follows:
1. Barra da Tijuca, which is centrally located. This will be the home of the Olympic Village.
2. The Deodoro Sports Complex which was started on July 3, 2014. It is the second largest Olympic zone which will include a few venues previously used in the Pan American Games of 2007. This Sports Complex, which will host several Olympic events, will house among others, the equestrian arena, the Bike park and the Canoe Slalom. The Deodoro facilities are currently on schedule and well under way to being completed before the 2016 deadline date.
3. The Copacabana Zone will naturally be the site for the water and beach events such as sailing, canoeing, beach volleyball and others. In fact for one week this past August, sailors from around the world gathered on Guanabara Bay for the first test event to be held in that Zone. It was considered a grand success although there were many complaints about the conditions of the water – several people complained about the high water pollution levels and as a result, the event became a situation where dodging unseen objects below the surface of the water was the ‘order of each day.’
4. The Maracanã Zone where the majority of the events will be held includes two stadiums, the Maracanã Stadium (also known as Engenhão) where the opening and the closing ceremonies are to be held and the João Havelange Olympic Stadium, where track and field events will be held. Of all the four zones, this zone is more ready than all of the others because the two main complexes are already in place, although they do need some repairs before their final opening.
Of course if travel tips to Brazil are to be of benefit to any visitor, one would need to know not only about the Brazilian food, and the Brazilian people, but also about transportation, and how to get to and from the facilities. Now that more Brazilian people have greater access to wealth and education, they are buying more cars and congestion has become a major problem in many Brazilian cities. The Rio government together with private investment intend to spend over $8.5 billion to upgrade its urban transportation system in order to increase the use of public transportation by 300%. Major improvements will be made to the metro system which being extended about 16 km and to the bus-lines so that they can move people around that city more quickly. Much improvement had been made to the infra-structure in preparation of the World Cup and now efforts continue in earnest as the deadline for the 2016 Olympics in Rio is less than 2 years away. I encourage you to read my articles on each of the referenced topics because they will give you many travel tips on how to ensure that you experience an enjoyable yet safe trip to Brazil and will also give you the Do’s and Don’ts of travelling in and out of that beautiful country.
Come August 2016, over 10,000 athletes from around the world are expected to participate in the 2016 Olympics in Rio. Therefore in order to support its efforts, the Brazilian Organizing Committee is in search of thousands of volunteers to make their 2016 Olympics a roaring success. Whether you serve in a food pavilion, or you become a part of the security team, whether you work online, if you serve as a translator or on the front lines meeting and greeting the attendees, Rio’s Local Organizing Committee will need over 70,000 volunteers to make this event happen. So if you are interested in helping, you must be 18 years of age or old and you must be available for at least 10 days during the events. If you meet these criteria (and there may be others), you can apply to be a volunteer at: http://www.rio2016.com/volunteers/. I am certain they will need all of the help that they can get and therefore they will welcome you with open arms.

Places to stay while in Brazil

Places of Stay in Sao-PauloThere are a number of places to stay while in Brazil, from hotels, to motels, to hostels, bed and breakfasts, you can stay with a friend or relative, but I need to update you on a few situations.  First of all, location is critical wherever you decide to stay especially if you are going to be out late into the evening.  Depending on where your accommodations are located, you need to decide whether you are prepared to take the bus, cab or metro back and forth to your destination. I suggest (even before getting to Brazil) that you can actually go online to Goggle maps which is the one I use most often, find the city or area where you will be staying and search for directions.  Then add the hotel address or where you are leaving from and the address where you are going.  The search will determine how long it will take to get to and from that address via bus, cab or metro.  I suggest you also read my Articles on Transportation – Part l, Transportation – Part ll and Transportation – Part lll to ensure that you are aware of those relevant matters of concern so that you are not caught unawares.

First of all, please take note that motels as opposed to hotels, most often, are known as places where the locals go to have sex and more often than not, will be frequented by persons of ill-repute and their clients.
This is not to say that this does not happen in hotels, or eslewhere, but my advice is, regardless of the price, there are other more reasonable alternatives that will assure your safety.

There are many hostels new and old that can accommodate a family for example.  I stayed in one myself for several months although I had never stayed in one before.  However the hostel I stayed in had opened its doors just a week or two before I moved there.  It was a beautiful place but I came to realise that hostels are places where you take minimum luggage for short periods of time although I stayed at that hostel for almost 3 months.

Lodging in BrazilHostel life is very different if you have never experienced it before.  We had 4 sets of bunk beds (8 beds in total) in our room with 1 toilet, 1 shower,and 2 sinks in the powder area. Imagine 8 women in a room barely large room to pass between the bunks with 1 toilet and 1 shower.  Storage space per person is limited to a tiny locker and one-half of the lower side of the bunk.  But the hostel had other amenities – a TV/stereo room, computer access, a full-kitchen, a pool table and a family atmosphere.   One problem that I experienced with this particular hostel is that we ate most meals outside under a covered patio which can be a very chilly experience when it’s winter in Brazil.  Case and point, the temperature in Sao Paulo dropped below 53 degrees farenheit several days while there.  Another problem that I experienced was with the toilets.  They were push button toilets BUT you cannot put ANY trash (which includes toilet tissue) in the toilet – i.e. the used tissue had to be disposed of in the trash can. I was most fortunate to have a bidae which we could use for added cleanliness. I was also amazed that the disposal of waste in the trash did not produce an odor mainly because the staff were great at ensuring rooms were thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis.

Several hostels opened their doors this year in time for the World Cup, so they will do well to support those persons attending Carnival 2015 and the Olympics of 2016.  They really provide a safe place for an entire family to stay but I wil assure you that you may pay prices that are almost comparable to hotel rates.   Be careful to ask lots of questions because I did have one experience in Rio where the location and the price were great but the room was the size of my walk-in closet at home.  This really was not a major problem since I did not spend much time in the room, so do your research, check online for a place that is conducive to your desired means of comfort.  Look for a hotel, hostel, or for the accommodation with the amenities, location and price that best suits your needs. Enjoy!

Will Rio be ready for the Olympics – Part ll

CNN’s Shasta Darlington in Sao Paulo, Brazil

I can appreciate this video even today because much of what is said in this video, no matter the date, is still current.  Brazil has made few strides until now even though they have just recently hosted World Cup 2014.  Yes, some of the venues that were completed and that were used during the Soccer Games will be used by the Olympics as well, but so much of their infra-structure is still non-existant.  The Brazilian people have a lot of work ahead of them.

Another major issue that cannot be ignored is the lack of English speaking labourers and service personnel.  That fact alone is a major hiccup also to be address by this nation.  See more reading on this sbject on this website under Language l and Language ll.

Will Rio be Ready for Olympics 2016? – Part l

England's Claudia Fragipane, who has won four gold medals in Glasgow England’s Claudia Fragapane, who has won four gold medals in  Glasgow,during a beam routine at the Commonwealth Games. Photograph: Alastair Grant/AP

After so much drama surrounding the 2014 World Cup, with incomplete soccer stadiums, numerous protests, over-run budgets etc., the question that has rolled off many a tongue, is: ‘Will Brazil be ready for the Olympics in 2016?” Even officers of the International Olympic Committee such as the President of the IOC said in April 2014, that their preparations were the worst that he has seen.

I often recall the statement that so many Brazilians live by, ‘Not to worry, it will get done.’  But as the various athletes, in particular, those participating in boating events, practice for their events, the enormity of the task is so very real. They are already complaining that the water is filthy and it is like a sewer.

I also recall many a day when the Pinheiros River that runs through the South of the city of Sao Paulo, emitted such thick chemical fumes, that my eyes watered as I waited on the platform in Pinheiros, for the train to come.  So just cleaning up the many rivers that are filled with sludge, waste and filth will be extemely costly and could be a ‘deal-breaker’ for the athletes as well as for Rio.

Noone expects that any country should go bankrupt just to entertain the world, but in this case, some of the basic infrastructure is not there and that alone can ‘break any bank.’  Let’s keep watching and I will continue to update you on the latest news as time draws nearer to opening ceremony.

Will Rio de Janeiro be ready to host the Olympics…?


CNN’s Shasta Darlington reports

Of all the nations that have been designated the opportunity to host the Olympic Games, I am not surprised at all that Brazil, unlike any other country, is so significantly behind schedule that the Olympic Committee fears that they will need outside assistance to get ready for Olympics 2016.  But our friends ‘south of the border’ have a general attitude of ‘not to worry, it will get done.’  My concern, however, is ‘WHEN and HOW WELL’ will it get done.  Numerous delays in construction followed by the requests for significant increases in their budgets in order to complete projects is very common, so much so, that it has become the norm.

Most Brazilians if not all, are keenly aware of the fact that they are being ‘robbed blind’ but it amazes me that it was only this year, in eary 2014, that the people finally started to demonstrate their disapproval of the way the country is being run, by taking their protests to the streets.  It is obvious that funds are being grossly misused and that millions upon millions of reals (their local currency) are being pilfered.  Brazil should never fall behind on any project because their population is large enough to handle and meet the timeline of any major project.  Why this is a regular occurence with government projects and who is responsible for approving all of the budget over-runs is another story which will take us away from the immediate issue at hand.

After the World Cup this summer, Brazil has the potential to make an even greater mark on the world in 2016 but the ‘powers that be’ have much work to do.  You may not know it, but only 40% of the country of Brazil has sewage and water – i.e. about 60% of their homes do not.  So it is understandable that the people feel that they are being neglected with such vast amounts of money being spent on the World Cup and now the Olympics.

The leaders of the country need to lead by example, but it is unfortunate that the negative example that they have set has made such an impact on its people that exploitation has long become a way of life.  To undo the corruption that has been spun into the very fiber of this country, according to several business professionals that I spoke with, will, if they start now, take at least two generations to get rid of.

I want Brazil to succeed as I am sure their citizens do as well but it is going to take so much more than the voices of the people to get their leadership to ‘man up’ and lead this country to do what it has to do, to get the job done. It would be a shame for this culture rich nation ‘to lose face’ in front of the world who is hungry to visit their shores to enjoy an amazing event which could also make this third-world nation, a global player and bring it much economic prosperity.

 

Brazil’s World Cup Set to Affect October Elections

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff, of the Workers’ Party (PT), began the World Cup with approval ratings below forty percent. This has fallen continually from sixty percent before last year’s Confederations Cup, which was rocked by protests over corruption and misuse of public money in preparation for the events.

President Dilma Rousseff is looking for the World Cup to boost her support in the upcoming elections, photo by Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/Agência Brasil.

A study by Ibope showed that approval ratings for Dilma had fallen to 34 percent. No Brazilian president has ever won an election with less than 35 percent support, and at the very least levels of popularity below forty percent suggest the elections would go to a second round with one of the PT’s main rivals, the Brazilian Social Democratic Party, or PSDB, headed by Aécio Neves, or the Brazilian Socialist known as the PSB Party of Eduardo Campos and Marina Silva.

“In many ways the World Cup is the electoral campaign by proxy… The Rousseff government is being portrayed as lacking leadership and ability to plan efficiently,” explained Carlos Caicedo, Senior Principal Analyst for Latin America at IHS Security Risk to The Rio Times. “The staging of a successful World Cup would be critical to prove critics wrong. A World Cup fiasco is certain to cost votes to Rousseff and the PT.”

During the opening game, played in São Paulo’s Itaquerão stadium last Thursday, the president was met with choruses of vulgar chants. Anger at Rousseff and the PT is widespread, with popular demonstrations taking place simultaneously across the country, with widespread protesting in São Paulo and over a thousand people on the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

Recent surveys show that over sixty percent of Brazilians think the World Cup would be bad for Brazil, a dramatic fall since 2007 when Brazil won the bid, when as much as 79 percent of the population believed it would contribute positively to the country.

Protest art against World Cup in Rio de Janeiro, photo by Fernando Frazão/Agência Brasil.

For many Brazilians, nothing short of a victory – Brazil’s sixth in World Cup history – would be enough to convince them that the controversy was worth it. (Read the rest of this article at:  http://riotimesonline.com/brazil-news/rio-politics/brazils-world-cup-set-to-affect-october-elections/)

Brazil finds ‘food not fit for consumption’ at hotels…


By Rafael Romo, CNN Senior Latin American Affairs Editor; May 29, 2014 — Updated 1506 GMT

CNN) — Brazilian authorities have confiscated food “not fit for consumption” from two hotels that will host the English and Italian national teams during the upcoming World Cup competition in Brazil.

According to Procon, the Brazilian consumer protection agency, inspectors found food past its consumption date at the Portobello Hotel in the city of Mangaratiba, a suburb just west of Rio de Janeiro. The Italian national team is expected to stay at the Portobello.

In a surprise inspection Monday, Procon said, inspectors found 25 kilograms (about 55 pounds) of expired pasta, shrimp, salmon and margarine. At Portobello, inspectors also seized 24 kilograms (about 53 pounds) of steak, sauces, beef heart, cheese, sugar and fish without expiration labels.
Fabio Domingos, head of Procon in Rio de Janeiro state, told Agencia Brasil, the state-run news agency, that he’s very concerned about the number of establishments that have violated sanitation rules.

“It is unacceptable for a hotel like Portobello to store expired food. It’s one of the two largest hotels in Rio state that will be hosting international teams and it’s storing expired shrimp, meat and pasta. All of the expired food has been disposed of by our agents,” Domingos said.

In a statement, Juliana Castanheira, a Portobello Hotel press representative, said executives there “are taking measures to fully comply with the law.”

“This was an exception to our practices,” Castanheira said. “Since our team has had to work hard to meet high demand from the public, there was a failure in the disposal of food which expired the day before the visit by the inspection agency. However, no expired or unsafe food was served to our customers.”

Last week, in another surprise inspection, Procon inspectors found food past consumption quality at the Royal Tulip Hotel in the São Conrado neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro. That hotel is expected to host the English national team during the World Cup. Inspectors there found 2.36 kilograms (about 5 pounds) of expired lard, Parma ham and salmon.

The hotel released a statement to CNN saying, “Rio de Janeiro’s Royal Tulip would like to make it clear that it follows all external and internal standards of quality control of its food and drinks and is investigating this incident.”  (See the remainder of this article at: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/28/world/americas/brazil-world-cup-spoiled-food/index.html?hpt=ila_c2)

Brazilian Weather

Many people do not stop to think about the weather in the location they are visiting, especially in a place like Brazil which appears to be warm, with lots of hot bodies on every beach.  “NOT!”  I was not aware of it myself, but as I mentioned in my article, Soccer and World Cup 2014, Brazilian Weather really is unpredictable.

Yes, the website, climateandweather.com does a phenomenal job in describing the various temperatures in the sub-tropical and the tropical areas of Brazil from the northern borders, to the southern borders and the inland plateaus of this vast country reporting that “the best time to visit Brazil depends largely on where you go and what you want to see and do. Southern Brazil, including Sao Paulo, is best enjoyed in summer, from November to March, as temperatures during winter tend to be quite chilly. Brazil’s weather along the inland plateau and in cities such as Brasilia, is also best enjoyed during the southern hemisphere’s summer months. The altitude in this part of Brazil means that winters are quite cold. Brazil’s beaches can be a year-round attraction, however the water does cool down a bit as you move further south. Beaches such as that of Salvador de Bahia are great throughout the year. Finally the Amazon, the weather in this part of Brazil is characterised by rain. The best time to visit the Amazon depends upon what you wish to see. During the rainy season, in November, December, January, February, March, April and May, some of the remote areas become more accessible. In the less rainy season, from June to October, it is easier to walk through parts of the Amazon and experience its beauty on foot.” To read the remainder of this article on their site, go to: http://www.climateandweather.com/weather-in-brazil where you will also find ideas of what to bring to make your trip a pleasant and a stress-free experience.

Taking all of this information into consideration, it is also very critical that you check the weather before deciding on your various activities while there.  As you can see from the photo above, haze can prevent you from seeing the sights from the highest points, for example Sugar Loaf Mountain.  The day I went, it was somewhat hazy but I have heard that visitors have paid for the trip only to find that their view had been marred by the weather.  So be smart and alert.  Check the weather daily because the weather there can be unpredictable and can change with very little notice.

World Cup scandal! The unbelievable plot to eliminate Brazil

By Piers Edwards, CNN
June 18, 2014 — Updated 1042 GMT (1842 HKT)

It’s a story of brazen deceit and shameless subterfuge and had it not been for the photographic skills of just one man, Brazil’s unimpeachable record of being the only side to have competed at every tournament would have been put into serious jeopardy.

Victory for either Brazil or Chile in their final qualifier at the Maracana Stadium would have taken them to the 1990 World Cup. With 20 minutes left, Brazil were 1-0 up and looking good for qualification, especially since a draw would also take them through.

Then, their world suddenly fell apart.

In the Chile penalty area, goalkeeper Roberto Rojas was prostrate on the floor, seemingly hit by a flare that was still fizzing and pumping smoke into the sky just inches from him.

As legendary Brazilians Bebeto, Dunga and Careca looked on, Chile’s players rushed towards Rojas — furiously beckoning the medical staff once they had reached him.

With the blood leaking from his head turning his jersey crimson, Rojas was soon carried off the pitch and, as booing filled a bewildered Maracana, the match officials soon abandoned the game.

With the flare having been thrown from a Brazilian section of the stadium, football’s greatest superpower — Brazil has won the World Cup five times — was facing an unprecedented elimination.

“I was terrorized,” Ricardo Gomes, Brazil captain on the day, told CNN. “I thought immediately of losing the chance to go to the World Cup. It was something really bad.”

Now a football agent, Paulo Teixeira was working as a pitch-side photographer that day.

“Amazing as it may sound, no TV camera caught the moment the flare flew over and supposedly hit the goalkeeper,” he told CNN.

“We photographers were sitting along the side line and saw the flare come over. I was amazed to see Rojas rolling over and bleeding from an eye, as the device had hit the ground about a meter from him.”

With neither TV nor photographic evidence to prove otherwise, Brazil were in deep trouble but, wholly unbeknown to them, they were on the wrong side of an enormous hoax.

In a planned incident, Rojas — a highly-respected goalkeeper who was playing for Brazilian side Sao Paulo at the time — had used a razor blade hidden in his gloves to cut his own head while lying on the floor.

It was the most Machiavellian play to ensure Brazil’s elimination, but no one in Brazil had any hope of proving that.

Unless evidence could be found.

(Read the rest of this article at:  http://edition.cnn.com/2014/06/17/sport/football/brazil-chile-world-cup-scandal/index.html)

Drug gangs rule favelas away from World Cup crackdown

By Shasta Darlington, CNN; May 29, 2014 — Updated 1945 GMT (0345 HKT)

Rio de Janeiro (CNN) — Women shake their hips seductively and children dance in flip-flops to booming electronic music while young men brandish pistols and the occasional assault rifle.

It’s just another funk party in one of the lawless favelas on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro.

Since 2008, when authorities launched a so-called “pacification” effort, police have stormed dozens of slums to squeeze out criminal gangs and make the city safer for residents as well as the hundreds of thousands of tourists expected for the World Cup, which starts next month, and the 2016 Olympic Games.

Initially, police targeted shantytowns closest to tourist hot spots, the iconic favelas that cling to hills overlooking Copacabana and Ipanema.

But far from the sunny beaches and pretty promenades that line the coast, drug gangs still reign supreme.

Even during the day, the drug business is brisk and carried out in the open. Armed men, often just teenagers, stand watch at corners and communicate by radio as housewives, workers and children coming home from school walk by.

Sales are made from a plastic table erected on a corner, piled with little baggies of marijuana, hashish, cocaine, crack, even an inhalant containing ether. Money is stuffed in plastic containers.

The local dealers agree to talk while they carry on with their trade.

“What we sell most is the famous white powder, the 20-real hits,” says Jorge as he holds up little baggies of cocaine, worth about $8.

A hit of crack costs about $2 and a baggie of marijuana about $4.

They say most of their customers are locals, but they increasingly have more clients coming from Rio’s wealthier neighborhoods because of the heavier police presence there.

Jorge, 22 with bleached hair, wears board shorts and flip-flops and has an AR-15 slung over his shoulder.

“I was born in the middle of trafficking. I didn’t see any other alternative,” he says. “If I could choose a profession, I would be a fireman or a doctor.”

(Read the remainder of this article at: http://edition.cnn.com/2014/05/29/world/americas/brazil-drug-gangs-world-cup/index.html?hpt=ila_c2