By Mary Carroll, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The arrival of the Rio+20 Earth Summit, for Brazil, is not only about the global sustainability progress that will be made. The international community is also closely watching to see how Rio will handle the management of such a large event, one of many now on the city’s agenda in the coming years, most notably the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.
There has already been some controversy surrounding the organization of the event. State Secretary of Security, José Mariano Beltrame, told O Globo the state had not yet received funds from the federal government for the event security, “all our participation in the safety of Rio+20, will be with our own resources.”
Government sources reveal the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) will send 5,000 additional military personnel to add to the 15,000 armed forces personnel and police, bringing the security contingent for Rio+20 to total 20,000. According to the Ministry of Defense, Celso Amorim, the total cost of the security operation for the conference is R$132.8 million, of which R$90 million is the cost of the Armed Forces.
Amorim affirms that “The Brazilian Intelligence Agency is doing surveys of possible threats. The probability is low, but [...] we will adopt certain measures so that these threats are not realized.”
To this end, institutions mobilized for the operation have been specially trained for the prevention of terrorist attacks as well as how to handle biological attacks. These forces will coordinate with the Safety and Security Service of the United Nations, reinforced by the Integrated Tactical Coordination Center which will perform scans with electronic explosive detectors in hotels and event locations.
The security of the event is only one of the concerns for residents of Rio and visiting attendees. Many fear a logistic nightmare engulfing the city with the normal fifty-minute commute from Zona Sul (South Zone) to Barra da Tijuca to become much more formidable.
To help cope with these issues, the Secretary of the Department of Transport will implement the project Táxi Boa Praça for the event, which prohibits taxis from entering Santos Dumont Airport and Tom Jobim (Galeão) Airport. Main routes, such as from Galeão Airport to Zona Sul, will also be specifically dedicated for the movement of delegations at predetermined times between June 20th and June 22nd.
Bus prices to the event will be R$5.40 between Riocentro (the main event center in Barra da Tijuca) and Zona Sul and the cost of renting a car has increased 42 percent according to some reports. These rate increases are fully legal; unlike taxis, vans and rental cars which do not have fixed prices.
Gustavo Ocha, who works in tourism at Galeão International Airport, explains, “all the transfer companies are expecting Rio+20 to bring good business. It’s good that the taxis will not be allowed into the airport during the event, it will make the place so much safer.”
Rio’s Mayor Eduard Paes is not phased by the criticism and encourages of the public, which should instead have a positive attitude towards the Earth Summit: “It is an honor for the city to receive an event like this. What we are asking for is the understanding of the population for these days. Our city is a kind of capital of the world during this period. It is a reason for pride.”