RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This article is actually not about the tragic three-building collapse that happened in Rio last week, and need for better structural integrity, in planning, maintaining and renovating. The government will hopefully introduce some swift new laws that help developers and citizens quickly, and our Opinion columnist has already shared thoughts on the causes.
The building balance is in regard to our own stated mission, as we have strayed a bit further into the darkness then we normally do. The story about the potential police and firefighter strike was something not well covered by major or local news media here, which lead us to a slightly riskier place.
The potential strike was noted in a Jornal do Brazil article and there was a very small mention in O Globo, but we were approached by strike organizers struggling to get the message out. There was video of a large protest in Copacabana, but it was hard to find much coverage about it.
The government press site had information about the negotiations, and we had direct information from several police sources, but still, it is all being kept relatively quiet. This could be because it is not realistically going to amount to much, and therefore not big news, or something else.
As to the demands of the police and firefighters, from the outside it seems like a reasonable request, and just last night BBC aired a short program about wealth distribution in Brazil, and how the gap is growing between the rich and poor.
It is easy to see in Rio, there are way more BMWs and Mercedes-Benz on the streets, Harley Davidsons and other toys for the wealthy. The new money pouring into the country is trickling down, but perhaps not as fast and dramatically as the situation calls for.
Then there is the correlation between pay and quality of life, and corruption. There is a long history of alleged police corruption in Rio, but making R$1,500 (approximately US$860) per month is hard to swallow, when the a Big Mac here is amongst the most expensive in the world, second only to Switzerland.
The cost of living has soared and the average residential rent in Rio de Janeiro soared 21.4 percent in 2011, and for home sales, the average square meter in Rio rose a staggering 34.9 percent.
The good news for Brazil is the money is coming in, so it is a question of where it goes. We think that police and firefighters is a good place for some of it, along with education.
For us the article was running a bit closer to the edge then we like, but, it seemed like the right call at the time, and time will tell. We’ll keep running, as there is a Carnival to cover and new, balanced news to report.