Brazil · Rio 2016 · Scandals

O-Minus 48: Rio: We’re Broke

Where’s the torch? Boa Vista, Roraima – this is the state capital, and it’s in the vicinity of the Venezuelan border.

The governor of the state of Rio announced that the state’s pretty much broke right now and needs some help, or else.

Who is surprised about this? Really? You are? I’m not, but then, I lived in Illinois for 15 years, and that state is perpetually broke and without a budget. The state of Rio gets a lot of its revenue from oil. The oil market bottomed out a while ago, which means less money, which means this situation. There’s also a lovely recession going on in Brazil, which adds to the fun. These problems just so happen to come less than 50 days ahead of the Olympics, so now the world is paying attention. If the Olympics weren’t in Rio, chances are that it wouldn’t have made splashing headlines, and every other government would probably say, You’re broke too? Welcome to the club!

Who else isn’t surprised? Rio 2016, who apparently said, NBD–we don’t get any of their money, and we’re chugging along pretty well all the same, and went back to eating the Brazilian version of tea and crumpets.*

And sure, the Games themselves aren’t quite so affected at the moment, but the state committed to funding a lot of things that have some effect on the Games. The state’s still on the hook for extending the metro to the Olympic Park (what I would call a “nice to have”); it’s responsible for facilities that are supposed to clean up the water for the sailing competition (eh, they’re in boats; just don’t fall in); it’s responsible for providing state police security (which I can’t imagine would be the only security happening during the Games).

According to Reuters, the feds have stepped in with some emergency cash to help with those projects. The city of Rio’s taken over a couple of hospitals to make sure people get paid.  As to the problem of gang violence, I wouldn’t be surprised if the gangs made a temporary truce so that the Games themselves would be a lot safer–and of course, there will likely be way more police on hand to encourage that.

The Games should be fine–the aftermath may not be. Will we pay as much attention to Brazil then? Maybe that’s the bigger crime.

Portuguese for the Day: Learn some essential words to get you through the sport of swimming here.

*What is the Brazilian version of tea and crumpets? Help us out, ReaderLand!

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