Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, confided during dinner with sports journalists that she is fed up with FIFA chief Joseph Blatter and said the last chapter of protests in the Brazilian cities that will host the World Cup next month were a failure.
“Get Blatter and (Jerome) Valcke off my back,” complained Rousseff while sharing a meal with sports’ reporters in Brasília, the capital of the country, that will also be hosting several matches of the Cup to be inaugurated in São Paulo.
The presidential statements were nor recorded or filmed but according to the reporters present, Rousseff said that Thursday’s massive demonstrations against the Cup were ‘a failure’, and anticipated that once the Cup and matches take off, ‘people are going to forget about protests and protesting’.
One of the journalists then asked about FIFA’s Blatter and Valcke and “if they were a pain” and Rousseff replied strongly “yes they are, I’m fed up, get them off my back”.
On Thursday thousands took to the streets in 17 Brazilian capitals to protests against the billions spent in the World Cup and to demand more resources for housing and public services. The protestors pledged more demonstration in the coming weeks.
Likewise in another moment of the social meeting, Rousseff anticipated that with the opening match of the world event, an overall feeling of joy will take over the country and expected the Brazilian national team to win the Cup for the sixth time.
More specifically the Brazilian president said she looked forward for a victory over Argentina in the final match which is scheduled to be played 13 July at the Maracanã.
If attacked in Brazil: “Don’t fight, scream or argue”. That’s the advice being offered to tourists by the São Paulo Civil Police ahead of this year’s World Cup games, which authorities have revealed will be enforced by armored, “RoboCop”-styled riot police.
The alarming safety precautions come as 3.6 million tourists are expected to flood the country, which has been labeled “critical” for crime by the US Department of State for the last 25 years.
The advice to tourists on if attacked, first reported by São Paulo news site Estadão may sound contradictory of how a victim may react elsewhere, but in Brazil, some say it may very well save your life.
In Rio, where seven games will be hosted including the final July 13 match, safety precautions have gone so far as issuing 200 sets of “RoboCop” armor for its officers according to media reports.
The black, light-weight uniforms are described as flame resistant up to 800 F, while equipped with a pepper spray mask, pistol belt, stun gun, handcuffs and baton.
They also happen to look stellar while charging on a horse, as seen in a video obtained by Estadão, which appears to show the uniformed officers riding with long swords drawn as if jousting.
Lt. Col. Wagner Villares, commander of the military police branch The Major Events Police Battalion, said the uniforms will protect some of his 600 officers from any physical attacks by the predictably rowdy soccer fans.
“The plastic uniform is resistant to knocks and blows,” he told news website Ultimo Segundo, according to the National Post. “Underneath the plastic that covers the back and the chest, there is another protective layer that absorbs and spreads the force of a blow.”
Marches and Protests
Road blocks and marches hit Brazilian cities last week as disparate groups criticized spending on the upcoming World Cup soccer tournament and sought to revive a call for better public services that swept the country last June.
Less than a month before the tournament kicks off, and four months before a presidential election, the protests will gauge the ability of demonstrators to once again rally frustrated Brazilians and the competence of police to manage unrest that occasionally escalated over the past year into violence and vandalism.
A main thoroughfare was blocked with burning tires in Brazil’s biggest city of São Paulo and protesters stormed a building in the capital Brasília. Looters also took advantage of a striking military police force in the northeastern city of Recife, a World Cup venue, where security has been handed to the army until the police return.
Groups, including the Homeless Workers Movement, marched towards a World Cup stadium in São Paulo, site of the tournament’s kickoff that has become a target because of families displaced by its construction.
One banner carried by demonstrators read: “The cup without the people, all to the streets again!”
In Brasília the Homeless Workers Movement entered the headquarters of Terracap, the state company that manages the city’s 1.4 billion Reais (630 million dollars) stadium – the country’s most expensive.
Protests were planned in up to 50 cities throughout the day, as demonstrators hope to rekindle momentum that led to millions of people hitting the streets last year during the Confederations Cup, a two-week World Cup warm up.
Last year’s demonstrations prompted President Dilma Rousseff, who faces a bid for re-election in October, to address the nation and acknowledge deficiencies in public services and investment in everything from education and health care to transportation and security.
After a near-decade of steady growth before she took office, Brazil is now struggling with a sluggish economy, persistent inflation, rising crime rates and lackluster investment.
Thursday’s protests come in a week which has already seen widespread strikes from dissatisfied labor unions across Brazil, from bus drivers in Rio de Janeiro to military police in the northeastern city of Recife.