Editorial, by Stone Korshak
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Few places put on a New Year’s Eve party like Rio de Janeiro. it it the unofficial start of summer, it is 40 degrees Celsius (approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit) days that stretch until 9PM, with school’s on break and the sounds of samba teasing Carnival just around the corner.
The fireworks over Copacabana Beach were amazing last night, and the city woke up quiet this morning, having not gone to bed until the wee hours. Slowly the birds start chirping and the haze burns off another sunny morning in paradise and the question comes into focus, what is going to happen this year?
Last year saw the Mensalão convictions, the FIFA Confederations Cup, the nation-wide protests, World Youth Day, Rock in Rio, and capped off with the U.S. Spy/Surveillance program leak. There was a lot more happening of course in the gaps and The Rio Times also does our ‘10 Most Interesting Gringos in Rio‘ list, in case you hadn’t seen it.
Now, we have 2014. The year of the World Cup. Also the year of a presidential election. Also a year of continual economic sliding as Brazil tries to put a good face on. The commodities market has seen Chinese demand slow and the U.S. and many European oil companies have pulled out of Brazil as the pre-salt oil boom has proved too inefficient to exploit.
Environmentalist, sustainable-socialists and nationalists might think that is a good thing but the local economy has been skidding hard and chaffing against the real estate market and inflation going in the other direction. So what will happen in 2014, when the football (soccer) stars, journalists and fans descend in their multinational bubbles on twelve cities across the ‘country of tomorrow’?
My prediction is not much. It will be like Carnival for another month, a little cooler weather in June and July (in Rio anyways). Some lucky apartment owners will pocket half a year’s rent in four weeks, and three million Brazilians and throngs of European football-crazed tourists will blow their annual vacation budget, and why not?
Will there be nation-wide protests again like last year? Will the citizens of Brazil cease the opportunity to force change in the government? Demand better public service and less corruption, more efficient use of their tax dollars, better distribution of wealth? I hope so, but I’m not sure last year’s spontaneous uproar can be recreated.
Then July 13th will pass, and hopefully Brazil will be FIFA World Champions again. Then the rest of Brazil will tally accounts, but Rio de Janeiro will start looking towards the 2016 Olympics. Then real estate speculation will re-adjust, and perhaps fall back in line with wage levels.
The pressure to stay vigilante on the favela pacification program will crystallize. The ability for the police to keep their nose clean this year is paramount, as the tinder for those protests remains primed. The progress towards transparency and effective implementation of the PAC projects, Minha Casa, Minha Vida, Bolsa Familia and small business loans all sound good also.
There is a lot to do… maybe for today we’ll just bask in the shade of last night’s Réveillon. Happy New Year and thanks for all the support of The Rio Times last year. Let’s make 2014 happen.