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Brazil: About the 2007 Rio Pan-American Games

After two intense weeks full of sports coverage and post-tragedy debates in the media, the XV Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro has come to an end. Since its inauguration ceremony, where president Lula got booed by the crowd at the stadium, the event has inspired a passionate debate colored by political frictions in the local blogosphere. How the defection of Cuban athletes fits the plot? Read through the end of the post and find out what Brazilian blogs has to say about it.

Desde que as rotas do XV Pan e do Airbus da Tam se cruzaram na funesta terça-feira de 17 de julho, o país passou a alternar momentos de alegria vulcânica com abismos de horror. Para quem assistiu de casa ao noticiário initerrupto e consecutivo dos dois dramas, as lavadas d’alma e o medo foram sendo expiados um após o outro, em privado. Resultado: um estado de bipolaridade (termo tão na moda) nacional que especialistas haverão de estudar por muito tempo ainda.
“Um parentese de felicidade”Blog do Juca

Since the XV Pan American Games and TAM's Airbus crossed its paths on that funereal Tuesday, July 17th, the country has experienced alternated moments of volcanic joy with others like abysses of horror. Those who followed from their homes the non-stop alternate TV coverage on both dramas redeemed the celebrated victories and the fear of death one after the other, in private. The result was a state of national bipolarity (trendy term) which may take some time before specialists can fully understand…
“Brackets of Happiness”Blog do Juca

O público do Maracanã era predominantemente de classe média. A maior parte dos ingressos foi vendida pela internet. Pobre não tem computador em casa. Pagar R$ 40,00 ou até R$ 250,00 não é para qualquer um. Não se pode desprezar ou minimizar o fato de que a classe média carioca está profundamente insatisfeita e teve oportunidade de se manifestar. Pode ter se iniciado com um ato isolado, mas se espalhou por todo o Maracanã. Isso não dá para esconder… Lula é um político sensível e as vaias recebidas vão influir no seu comportamento futuro…
Os recados embutidos nas vaias do MaracanãPelos Corredores do Planalto

The audience (which booed Lula) at the inauguration was mainly from the middle class. The major part of the tickets were sold through the Internet, and poor people do not have computers at home. Paying 40 or even 250 reais (US$ 130) for a ticket is not for everyone in this country. We can't minimize the fact that the Rio de Janeiro (carioca) middle class is profoundly disappointed and finally had the opportunity to manifest it. It may have started as an isolated act, but it soon spread to the whole stadium — it is impossible to hide the fact. …Lula is a sagacious politician and the public dispraise will surely influence his future behavior…
The embeded messages in the boos at MaracanãPelos Corredores do Planalto


Planned as a step
to Rio's bid to play host to the 2016 Olympic Games, the 2007 Pan Games in Rio were also supposed to provide the city with advanced sports equipment that would turn into areas for special social programs after the games. But the cost overruns and construction delays has called the attention of many, and a special blog was created to closely follow and denounce the possible use of public resources to attend private interests.

Juca Kfouri, the country’s leading sports commentator (…) sees the expensive race against the clock as part of a pattern of corruption that he says is endemic in the country’s sports and political establishments. “This is the chronicle of a mess foretold,” he said, alluding to a novel by Gabriel García Márquez. “Everyone knew when Brazil won the right to host the Games that the moment would arrive when the organizers were going to blackmail the government and that all the normal regulations on bids and oversight would be thrown out the window in the name of haste and avoiding a stain on Brazil’s reputation.”
Deu no New York TimesA Verdade do Pan 2007

O Pan que arromba as portas da cidade é mais uma evidência de que temos uma República por fazer. Estamos em 2007 e continua o uso de dinheiro e de instituições públicas para promover interesses e lucros privados. Tudo em nome do esporte, da alegria e do patriotismo. Enquanto isso, a mídia gorda posa de defensora do interesse público, mas não divulga a maior parte das falcatruas – inclusive aquelas em que ela própria está envolvida.
Pan do Rio: Pandemônio (parte 2)Lendas

The Pan Games, which are opening wide the doors of the city is one more evidence that we still have much to do in order to build our Republic. We are in 2007, and still witnessing the use of public money and institutions to promote private interests and profits. Everything in the name of the sports, the joy, the patriotism. Meanwhile, the fat media poses itself as defender of the public interest, but it does not divulge the majority of the impostures — including those where it is itself implicated.
Rio's Pan: Pandemonio (part 2)Lendas


Part of the city's preparation
in order to qualify for the games’ security standards involved adding about 7,000 troopers from the National Public Security Force to guard the streets. Some incursions turned into clashes between police and drug traffickers, triggering fierce fighting for several hours in the city-slums and resulting in many people dead. Local activism on the issue faced police busting.

Em vez de contagem de medalhas, estamos contando corpos. Infelizmente, parece que o Rio 2007 será lembrado mais pelos seus mortos do que pelos jogos. As mesmas forças policiais que pretendem dar segurança ao Pan, são responsáveis por invasões de comunidades, e já levaram à morte, no mínimo, 44 pessoas no Complexo do Alemão são os mortos pan-americanos. No Brasil, o chamado espírito olímpico é fatal. Mega eventos iguais ao Pan têm históricos violentos. O governo mexicano matou 25 estudantes que protestavam pacificamente contra o autoritarismo do governo no início das Olimpíadas de 1968, no que ficou conhecido como Massacre de Tlatelolco. No dia da abertura dos Jogos Pan-Americanos de 2003, a polícia da República Dominicana atirou em um grupo de sindicalistas que organizavam uma “Tocha contra a Fome”.
Os Mortos PanamericanosJustiça Global

Instead of counting medals, we are counting bodies. Unfortunately, it seems that the 2007 Pan Games in Rio will be remembered more for its deaths than for the games itself. The same police forces which intend to provide security to the Pan Games are the ones responsible for invasions in communities, causing the death of at least 44 people in Complexo do Alemão [a city-slum] — the Pan-American dead. In Brazil, the so called Olympic spirit is mortal. Mega events like the Pan Games hold violent history. The Mexican government killed 25 students who protested peacefully against government's authoritarianism in the beginning of the Olympic Games in 1968, in what became known as the Tlatelolco Massacre. On the opening day of the 2003 Pan American Games, the Dominican Republic's police shot a group of union activists in a manifestation called “Torch against Hunger”.
Panamerican DeadJustiça Global

caveirinhaA polícia do Rio invadiu a sede da ONG Rede de Comunicação Contra a Violência, apreendeu 60 camisetas de protesto contra o Pan e prendeu as duas pessoas presentes no local no centro da cidade. Vendida a R$ 10, a roupa é parte das manifestações contra os atos violentos nas comunidades populares prévios ao Pan e os gastos excessivos do evento e contratações sem licitação. Depois de assinar um termo em que assumiam terem usado uma marca registrada (o mascote Cauê, mas na versão maligna e segurando um fuzil), os dois foram liberados.
Cauê e o Caveirão* por acaso

The city police invaded the headquarters of the NGO Communication Against Violence, aprehended 60 protest tshirts against the Pan Games and arrested the two persons who were at the place in downtown. The shirt was being sold for 10 reals, and was part of the demonstration against the violent acts enacted by the police in the popular communities in the period before the games, and also against the event's excessive expenses and spurious contracts. The two people were both released after signing a term where they admit having misused a registered mark (the Cauê symbol, in malign mode holding a rifle).
Cauê and the Caveirão* por acaso


The restrictions on athlete's blogs
had already indicated the event's organizer's broadcast-only leanings. Indeed, the TV coverage style was closer to an event promotion than to something we could call journalism. The conjunction of Lula's deprecation at the stadium with the occurrence of the airplane crash in the middle of an air traffic crisis seemed like the perfect moment for the anti-Lula media to use the games’ coverage for political profits.

In this landscape full of ideological flames, the role of Cuba turned out to be an interesting one. The open rivalry with Brazilians in popular games such as volleyball, handball and basketball, along with Cubans traditional way of picking on adversaries during the games were already good enough reasons to turn Cuba into Brazil's main opponent in the games — the one to be defeated. The defection of Cubans at the beginning of the games and a close dispute with Brazil for the second place in the medal table on the last days of competition managed to add extra scent to the picture. Bloggers expressed diverse opinions about the situation, from which we've selected a few.

Não preciso nem comentar não é? Mais uma prova do ‘amor’ cubano pelo regime de Fidel. Continuo esperando pra ver algum atleta norte-americano fugindo de sua delegação. A propósito, está correndo por aí uma piadinha excelente. Pergunta: Sabe por que Cuba não ganhou nenhuma medalha na natação? Resposta: Porque todos os cubanos que sabiam nadar já fugiram para os Estados Unidos.
Resistindo no Pan: a Fuga 2Resistindo

I don't even need to comment it, right? Here we have one more proof of how Cubans “love” Fidel's regime. I keep waiting to see some north-american athlete defecting from its delegation. Talking about that, there is an excellent joke rolling around. Question: Do you know why Cuba hasn't earned any medal in swimming? Answer: Because all Cubans who knew how to swim already escaped to the US.
Resisting at the Pan: Runaway 2Resistindo

Cuba, a grande vencedora do Pan: EUA – 300 milhões de habitantes, PIB de 13,020 trilhões de dólares, 97 medalhas de ouro.CUBA – 11,382 milhões de habitantes, PIB de 44,54 bilhões de dólares, 59 medalhas de ouro.BRASIL – 186 milhões de habitantes, PIB de 1,769 trilhão de dólares, 51 medalhas de ouro.
Cuba, a grande vencedora do PanDiário do Briguilino

Cuba is the great winner of the Pan Games: EUA – 300 million inhabitants, 13.020 trillion dollars of GDP, 97 gold medals; CUBA – 11.382 million people, 44.54 billion dollars of GDP, 59 gold medals; BRASIL – 186 million people, 1.769 trillion dollars, 51 gold medals.
Cuba is the great winner of the Pan GamesDiário do Briguilino

Por que fogem, se a condição de atletas de alto nível a que chegaram é, em grande medida, resultado do apoio do povo e do Estado cubanos? Uma amiga, socialista até a medula, grande entusiasta do regime castrista, retornou desolada de uma viagem recente à ilha, por constatar que a maioria dos jovens com quem conversou em Havana Velha “sonha com o capitalismo”. “Aqui falta muita coisa, principalmente liberdade”, disse-lhe um garoto de 19 anos. Constantemente vemos críticas severas a Fidel Castro e a seu governo. Controvérsias aos montes. Para alguns, a imprensa e os intelectuais europeus e sul-americanos criaram uma atmosfera de simpatia pelo regime cubano, que torna difícil enxergar o autoritarismo que prende, tortura e exila seus críticos, como o poeta Armando Valladares e Aline Fernandez, filha de Fidel que se recusa a usar o sobrenome Castro. Como falei no início, não sei dizer com certeza o que motivou a fuga dos atletas, há por certo elementos subjetivos impossíveis de analisar. Contudo, pensá-la me fez compreender que em Cuba, como no Brasil, o grande desafio é garantir uma plena correspondência entre direitos sociais e políticos. Aqui, nos contam os livros de história, regimes ditatoriais foram responsáveis pela criação da CLT e pela universalização da previdência social, direitos sociais que o atual Estado democrático vem aos poucos usurpando.
Porque fojem?Blog do Pedro Almino

Why do they run away if the condition of high profile athletes reached by them is, in great part, direct result of the support granted by the people and the state of Cuba? A friend of mine, a socialist to the bone and great enthusiast of the castrist regime, has returned devastated from a recent trip to the island where it was evidenced that the majority of the young people in Old Havana “dream about the capitalism”. “Here lacks many things. Mainly freedom”, a 19 years old boy told her. We constantly witness hard criticism to Fidel Castro and his government. Controversies abound. Some say that European and South American journalists and thinkers have created an affective atmosphere for the Cuban regime, which makes it difficult to be aware of the authoritarianism which results in arrests, torture and exiles for its critics — as the poet Armando Valladares and Aline Fernandez, Fidel's daughter who refuses to use the Castro surname. As I said from the start, I am not certain about the real motives for the athletes to run away, and there are subjective elements which are impossible to analyse. However, thinking about it makes me understand that in Cuba, as in Brazil, the great challenge is to guarantee a plain correspondence between social and political rights. Here, as we are told by history books, dictatorial regimes were responsible for the creation of the CLT (work protections legal framework) and the universalizing of social security — social rights that the modern democratic state is gradually trying to usurp.
Why do they run away?Blog do Pedro Almino

Maracanã
‘Maracanã’ by Nicholas Bittencourt at Flickr


Politics have fueled
the blogs’ conversation during the last two weeks, but I could not finish a post about the Pan Games in Rio without talking about the actual games and competitions. The Brazilian teams and athletes played well in general, resulting in the best ever performance on Pan Games, but what really amazed me was the female football team which won the gold medal scoring 33 goals and suffering none in six games. In a country where football has always been a predominantly male activity, such a campaign contrasted with the male team's defeat before the semi-finals can really influence the local culture of the sport. I was there at Maracanã with my kids to watch the 7×0 over Canada, and could really feel the enthusiasm — specially from the girls.

After all, we can't forget that sports are fun.

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