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Brazil: After a lavish World Cup, more protests loom, 2 years to Rio Olympics



It was supposed to be the homecoming of football’s biggest price. The ultimate episode of the greatest show on earth. For the host nation, considered as the birth place of the modern game by many, and it’s more than 200 million people deeply fanatical about the round leather, the 2014 FIFA World Cup was that moment they had waited for so long to sound a strong message to the rest of the globe – that football was alive in Brazil and that the largest economy in South America had shaken off years of turbulence and now making bold inroads into where it truly belongs – the top.

But barely a week after soccer’s most anticipated fiesta came to a thrilling end inside the iconic Maracana Stadium in the heart of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s second largest city, dashed and battered hopes are all you see wherever you turn to across this vast racially-mixed nation. Apart from the failure of their national men’s football team to lift the gold trophy as widely expected in the whole of the country, the many broken promises of a better life by the government prior to the month-long event haven’t particularly turned out that way – rather the people’s wounds and pains had been aggravated.

Slowly and steadily, citizens are waking up to the reality of inadequate social services, massive unemployment and widespread poverty. From Sao Paulo to Forteleza, Salvador to Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre to Curitiba and to the rest of the other major cities across Brazil that welcomed thousands of visitors while the tournament lasted, the story is the same – frustration, rage and disappointment is the norm.

“We need to separate the passion for football from social problems,” Oswaldo Barros, 42, a teacher from Jacarepaguá in the West of Rio de Janeiro, said. “I’m Brazilian, I watched the World Cup, I am not against the World Cup but I am against the manipulation of public money. There is too much stealing going on when a lot of people do not have food to eat.”

Barros is not the only one deeply angered by the enormous resources pumped into hosting the World Cup at a time lots of Brazilians are facing hardship, he is among a long list who say staging soccer’s biggest event have left them with nothing but more pains. “They don’t recognize our rights,” said Pablo Rodriguez, 47, a street cleaner from Grajaú in the North of Rio. “They put our money into the World Cup at a period most families are struggling to survive. It is wrong. All that money could have been put to better use by providing us with public services and decent jobs.”

Biologist, Luri Souza, 33, from Recreio, is also embarrassed by the sheer waste the government embarked upon when it could barely deliver any of its electoral promises.

“We don’t have health or education, we have corrupt politicians. It’s always been like this, people were always treated like rubbish while the rich had everything.

“People are dying in favelas. People are living in sewage. It’s a chaotic state. It’s going to continue like this. We can’t put up with this life,” he said.

Vinicius Duarte, a student in Sao Paulo, who was beaten by police during an anti-World Cup protest earlier in January, said he had been hopeful another wave of demonstrations would disrupt the tournament because according to him it offered no social value for the citizens.

“I gave my best to stop this madness,” Duarte said, referring to the just concluded global show. “It is a pity that we did not make large demonstrations, but the fight is just beginning.

“I am very ashamed of the robberies and killings done in the name of this event. I think there is nothing to justify embezzlement or removals of families from their homes,” he said.

[eap_ad_1] Favelas, which in Portuguese means slum, is a common sight across most Brazilian cities especially Rio where more than half of its residents cannot afford to pay for decent accommodations, turning to this type of shack settlements to lay their heads. As a result of its crammed nature and cheap standard of living, favelas in Rio are famed for drugs, alcohol, indiscriminate sex and all sorts of criminal activities. Afraid that it could give visitors a wrong impression of the country ahead of the tournament, the government ordered massive demolition of the area, leading to widespread outrage.

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