Advocates Keep Focus On Issues Outside World Cup Stadiums

What has the soccer tournament really cost Brazil? An overpass that was still under construction collapsed on a bus killing 2 people. And, opposition lawmakers want a probe into World Cup financing.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

We've been hearing a lot about what's been happening on the field in Brazil during this World Cup, but advocacy groups say what's been happening outside of the stadiums has been worrisome. NPR's Lourdes Garcia-Navarro in Sao Paulo reports on what the World Cup has really cost Brazil.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, BYLINE: What happened in Belo Horizente on the field far overshadowed what took off of it. Brazil was defeated by Germany 7 to 1, the worst showing ever by Brazil in a World Cup game, but only days earlier in the same city this was the scene when an overpass that was still under construction collapsed on a bus. Two people were killed and over 20 injured.

CHRISTOPHER GAFFNEY: Yeah, I mean, it's that these things do happen but they happen with more frequency in rushed circumstances.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Christopher Gaffney is a visiting professor at Rio de Janeiro's Federal Fluminense University. The overpass was part of the vastly delayed infrastructure works associated with the World Cup. When Brazil was awarded the tournament, 56 projects were promised but fewer than 10 were completed in time. There was a last-minute push to get things done here.

GAFFNEY: We have special contracting processes, we have projects that didn't go sort democratic process, we have companies that are major campaign-finance donators that are getting these projects and constructing things easily with very little oversight.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In all the World Couple cost Brazil at least $11 billion. Wags have noted that's $1 billion for every goal Brazil scored during the games. The bill for that will be coming due. Many local governments borrowed heavily to finance the road bridges and transportation networks. Already, opposition lawmakers in the congress here are calling for an investigation into World Cup financing. But it's not just the money, even though the protests have been small during the World Cup, they have been violently repressed say human rights groups.

MARIA LAURA CANINEU: It shouldn't give a license to public authorities to just do whatever they want without following the rule of law.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Maria Laura Canineu from Human Rights Watch in Brazil. The group recently called for an investigation into allegations that security officials planted evidence on two protesters. The pair are also being held without charge for longer than the legal limit of 15 days. Two human rights lawyers taken into custody during a separate parties claim they were beaten by police.

CANINEU: These few incidents that happened recently I think they are indications that the rule of law has not been followed the way should.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: The actions of local governments during the World Cup too have been coming under criticism. In the state of Sao Paulo and law would outlaw the use of mass protests and require all public gatherings of any sort to notify police has been passed by the state Congress. It's waiting for the governor’s approval. Its waiting for the governor’s approval. Flavio Siqueira is a lawyer at the Conectas Human Rights organization

FLAVIO SIQUERIA: (Speaking Portuguese).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: He says there was no public debate there were no public audiences. This law was forwarded the governor in the dead of night and passed through three internal committees he says and was voted on the same date which is rare he says. Both the police and the politicians say the tactics aren't necessary to curb the violence and vandalism that often accompany the demonstrations. But Christopher Gaffney says everyone's eyes have been on the games to the detriment of human rights here.

GAFFNEY: When the circus is going on you can use as an opportunity to pursue other agendas and I think that has been happening in political and economic realms and certainly as well as public security.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, NPR News, Sao Paulo

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News.

Copyright © 2014 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.