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Opinion, by Michael Royster

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – [January] “In June and July come the World Cup, which means no one in Brazil will be allowed to work or study for an entire month because some young men kicking a ball (and occasionally each other’s shins) is deemed “sport” and sport is “culture” and we should all be more cultured.”

Michael Royster, aka The Curmudgeon.
Michael Royster, aka The Curmudgeon.

[January] “There will be protests in Rio and throughout Brazil, because most people will come to realize the ruinously expensive side of the World Cup, and will resent that FIFA, arguably the most corrupt private organization on earth, receives the lion’s share of taxpayer money. Mammoth white elephant stadia in backwaters such as Manaus and Cuiabá and Natal will remain empty husks for years, eventually decaying into Coliseum-like structures to be visited by historians and archaeologists.”

[May] The worst thing about the World Cup is that Brazil is not going to win. In fact, Brazil may well not get out of the first elimination round, where it’s likely to face either Spain or the Netherlands. If (when?) this happens, there will be even more protests, and they will be violent, particularly here in Rio de Janeiro, where people will have been deprived by FIFA of seeing Brazil’s national team play.

[January] “In October, wafting upon us insidiously like noxious air from fetid swamps, will come the pious bleating of crooked politicians, all claiming, mendaciously, to represent the people. No one believes this by now, of course, but because Brazilians are bound by law to go to the polls and vote, they will go and vote and Brazil will have a new President. And his name … will be calléd … Wonderful! Marvelous! Lula!”

[May] The “Dump Dilma” and “Volta Lula” movement has begun to gather steam within PT and a number of the coalition parties, who are sick and tired of President Dilma Rousseff’s incompetence and inability to do anything other than boss people around. Lula will return, Dilma will be unceremoniously dumped and Lula will win the election because he will be (as he has always been) Teflon coated.

[May] Lula will escape blame for the “Mensalão” scandal; for the US$20 billion Pernambuco refinery boondoggle created with Hugo Chávez; for inflation rising well above target; for the electricity rationing and/or blackouts that will strike Brazil; for the FIFA fiasco; and for not having finished a single one of the mega-projects begun during his term as President. He will escape blame for the lack of public habitation, sanitation, transportation and education. He will reinvent himself as the politician of choice for protesters. And he will win, faute de mieux.

[May] Some while ago, the Curmudgeon surmised that 2016 was the “sell-by date” for Brazil, in the sense of proving it was a “serious” country rather than the sempiternal “country of the future”. Lula created that deadline by bringing here the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. With both these events now hopelessly behind schedule, can this happen if Lula returns as President?

[January] “The Curmudgeon, who is an incorrigible optimist except when writing about the future, doesn’t think so. As his guru Zardoz hath spoken: ‘I have seen the future, and it doesn’t work’.”

Michael Royster, aka THE CURMUDGEON first saw Rio forty-plus years ago, fetched up on these shores exactly 36 years ago, still loves it, notwithstanding being a charter member of the most persecuted minority in (North) America today, the WASPs (google it!)(get over it!)

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The Curmudgeon moved to Rio almost forty years ago, and has pretty much remained here ever since. He’s been writing political commentary for The Rio Times for almost seven years. He used to refer to himself as a WASP (look it up) but doesn’t any more because it embarrasses him.