Similar to various other Latin American countries, Brazil suffered through a right-wing military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.1 The aim of this dictatorship was to eliminate any and all threats of communist uprising within the country. This is similar to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, but, unlike such countries, Brazil has only now acknowledged the torture and other atrocities committed during the 21-year dictatorship.
Having only been in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for one week, I cannot tell you very much about life here except for what I’ve observed in my short amount of time. If there’s one thing that is clear, it’s that the people of Rio want you to know that favelas aren’t dangerous. Favelas, which can only best be described as shantytowns built on the hills and mountains of the city, are also known as “comunidades,” or communities, among the more politically correct.
Last March, after reading several online articles about the expected increase in prostitution and human trafficking in relation to the World Cup in Brazil, I decided to research the issue of child prostitution. Although I expected this to be a complex issue, I did not realize how many challenges and myths I would encounter while researching the topic.
As part of Rio de Janeiro’s 2016 Olympic bid, the olympic committee made a couple of large promises, one of them the clean up of Guanabara Bay in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. The Guanabara Bay will be one of the main features of the opening ceremony and will hold competitions for all sailing and rowing events. City officials promised to reduce waste and pollution in the bay by 80% but little progress has been made.1 If you ask any resident of Rio de Janeiro if the bay is fit for competition, or even display, they would confidently say no.
In Brazil, March 15th marks the end of the dictatorial era of Brazil, but this past March 15th marked a different and equally as important date in history; this year millions of protesters took to the streets throughout Brazil to protest the current president, Dilma Rousseff. Dilma, and her Worker’s Party colleagues, have been in the midst of a national scandal since the end of 2014.
Statistics from the UNDOC routinely rank Latin America as the most violent region in the world, and more than 150,000 people died from homicide in the Americas in 2012. In Brazil alone, more than 50,000 people were victims of homicide in 2012, more than triple the number in the U.S. (UNDOC, 2013). The crime epidemic that has arisen in the past decade in Latin America has resulted in the militarization of conflict, most exemplified by the Mexican government in its ongoing battle with drug cartels.
Brazil has one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world. So, it comes as no surprise that even in the context of pregnancies affected by the Zika virus, Brazil is faced with theological and political challenges.
The 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympic Games are making history in a number of ways. They will be the first Olympic Games hosted on the South American continent. Second, they have shown the worst preparation for the games in Olympic history. This chaos has played a large factor in neglecting the Legacy Projects that were promised as part of the 2016 Olympic Games.