street art

Street art can be one of the strongest forms of protest. It has the power to reveal complex issues on any urban surface. It is not afraid to look at themes that are far from beautiful. It touches at the ugly and the unjust. It is omnipresent, shouting its message at passersby as they rush through the streets.

The graceless, ungainly entrance of FIFA’s 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics into the daily fabric of impoverished Brazilians’ lives has projected, on an international scale, the deep-rooted inequalities ailing the giant South American nation. In this climate, several street artists’ images have emerged as honest, indignant reflections of the reality faced by the poorest Brazilians.

Paulo Ito

Paulo Ito’s wailing child with only a soccer ball to eat has quickly gone viral as an anti-FIFA icon since May 10, when the artist painted the image on the doors of a São Paulo schoolhouse. Ito consciously created the work in the Pompeia district, which is mostly a middle class area. In an interview with Slate, Ito discussed the thought that must go into the placement of street art. He initially wanted to create the mural outside of the Itaquerão Stadium that will hold 70,000 soccer fans at the World Cup opener in the second week of June. Yet Ito decided it is best to avoid placing charged images in poverty-stricken areas where people are already so intimately familiar with the reality he seeks to express in his art.

Ito’s piece critiques the state of Brazilian society. Funding for health care, public transportation and education have been crowded out by the billions of dollars the government in Brasilia is pouring into the two mega sporting events. An increase in transportation fares last year was met by massive protests throughout the country’s subways and bus stations. Many Brazilians are furious.

Ito, when asked about his painting, explained “people already have the feeling and that image condensed this feeling…The truth is there is so much wrong in Brazil that it is difficult to know where to start. I didn’t mean [to say] nobody is doing anything against poverty. But we need to show the world or ourselves that the situation is still not good.”



Jeroen Koolhaas and Dre Urhahn (Haas&Hahn) of the Netherlands have been working on their Favela Painting project for close to 10 years. Their goal is to paint an entire favela in Rio de Janeiro in order to shift the discussion of Brazilian favelas from perceptions of danger, crime and poverty, to a discovery of vibrancy, culture and beauty.

The project’s focus, according to the organization’s website, is ”mobilizing people to transform their own communities into social art works of monumental size, to beautify and inspire, combat prejudice and attract positive attention, while offering opportunity and economic stimulus.”

Haas&Hahn began on-the-ground work on the massive project in early 2014. Their plan is to train and hire locals to help with the community project, make repairs to buildings in the favela and develop a local paint factory that will create even more jobs in a sustainable way.

From Paulo Ito to Haas&Hahn, artists are putting street art to good work in Brazil. Through their images they are bluntly pointing out the injustices plaguing Brazilian society and creatively seeking to make Brazil a better, brighter place.

– Kayla Strickland

Sources: Favela Painting, Policy Mic, Slate
Photo: The Slate

Cost of the olympics
As the winter 2022 Olympics draw near, only four contending cities remain in a bid to host the games: Oslo, Norway; Lvov, Ukraine; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Beijing, China.

Krakow, Poland, Stockholm, St. Moritz and Davos, Switzerland, and Munich took themselves out of the running to host because of the high cost of the Olympics. Krakow was seen as the favorite to win the bid after Stockholm pulled out. A referendum revealed that 70 percent of the residents did not wish to hold the Winter Olympics, and thus the city chose to remove their bid.

The $51 billion cost of the Olympics in Sochi was a warning for many countries about the high cost of the games, which may not balance with potential benefits. For instance, the 2004 Olympic games played a role in instigating the Greek economic crisis, according to HBO sports writer Jon Frankel.

A component of the economic problem lies in the lack of demand for the facilities once the event is over.

The Moderate Party in Stockholm supported the city’s desire to pull their bid.

“There isn’t any need for that type of that kind of facility after an Olympics,” said a spokesperson from the Moderate Party.

The other cities that pulled out gave similar responses for their decision.

Of the cities that still remain in the bidding, only two are considered serious contenders: Almaty, Kazakhstan and Beijing, China. In both of these locations, the people have no say about the Olympics being held in their respective cities.

The situation of the 2022 Olympics raises the larger question of huge sports events and their high costs. Around the world, both developed and developing countries bid to host the Olympics games and the World Cup. But as costs continue to rise and each proceeding country hopes to one up the other, the money spent may not be the most effective or beneficial spending.

In Brazil, riots broke out in protest to the World Cup and the enormous expenditures that have gone into its preparation. The income inequality remains high and the protests decry the extravagant cost that has gone into the World Cup that could have been used for other purposes. In addition, following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro will host the 2016 Summer Olympics, placing an even larger economic burden upon the country.

Qatar, who is to host the 2022 World Cup, has already faced criticism over the potential deaths that would result from the construction, citing the poor labor standards and the dangerous heat levels.

One cannot help but wonder whether the high costs of such events are worth the expenditures that could be used for other purposes.

– William Ying

Sources: Business Week, CBS News, Reuters, RT, The Washington Post, Yahoo
Photo: The Atlantic

No one truly can deny the universal appeal of soccer throughout the world. Kevin Alavy, a sports analyst at Futures Sports + Entertainments quaintly stated that the innate popularity of the sport comes “down to its simplicity,” allowing to it reach from metropolitan England to poorer, rural nations such as Uganda.

Since the birth of FIFA, or the Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the organization had worked tirelessly to bringing soccer into the forefront of worldwide sports, creating the FIFA World Cup tournament in 1930.

Brazil received the honor to host the 2014 World Cup, and has made huge strides to build the immense stadiums and prepare the nations for the millions of people who will be attending the event.

Despite the frenzy behind hosting this popular world event, Brazil’s economic and political issues have come to the forefront. Brazilian citizens have rallied together against increasing taxes, political corruption, the lack of essential resources, and the use of public funds to finance the World Cup.

Despite the bad press, Brazil has been heralded as a member of BRICS, comprised of the nations “Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.” These nations have shown a massive growth of a vibrant middle class, with over 40 million people escaping poverty.

The new lifestyle  of the  Brazilian middle class has brought new luxuries such as cars, cell phones, and better homes. In spite of these developments, an assortment of problems such as the lack of an educational system, lack of basic heath needs, rising prices for public transportation and poor sanitation have became hot topic issues.  Walter Salles, noted Brazilian film director, condemned the amount of public spending used for the World Cup. He argued that Brazil spent “twice as much” on “constructing stadiums for the World Cup” than on “basic sanitation.”

Brazilian officials have argued that this is not the case, stating the “18.1% of government expenditure” is used on education, a major issue the protesters are railing for. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development has argued that despite these improvements, public education has barely improved, with only 77% of students age 15-19 being enrolled as full-time students.

“Nao vai ter Copa” or “There will not be a World Cup” is now an immensely popular slogan for the impoverished people of Brazil. The World Cup proved to be one of the major catalysts that pushed the populace to protest against the government’s mishandling of the economy.

Other protesters, such as lawyer Bruno Boaventura, argue that the real issue lies in the public not having a voice in regards to an event involving tax-payer money, stating the public was not “involved in any of the decisions.”  Over 30 billion reis, or 13 billion USD, is being spent on the event.

Brazilian officials, as well as FIFA, have both argued the World Cup spending will be beneficial to the Brazilian economy, arguing that Brazil is bound to gain 112.8 Billion Reais, or $52 billion US dollars from hosting the world cup. Protesters feel like they should have been a part of decisions in regards to their tax payer money. The only thing they both can agree on that this is a contentious issue that needs be resolved before the World Cup begins on June 12, 2014.

Joseph Abay

Sources: BBC, Bloomberg, ESPN, USA Today, Forbes, CNN, Soccer Lens, Huffington Post, Bleacher Report, The Guardian
Photo: DW

Brazil has earmarked $3.5 billion in public money for the construction or renovation of 12 stadiums in preparation for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The twelve stadiums which are spread throughout the country will host a total of 64 international football matches for the duration of the month long tournament.  Brazil is mortgaging the house in the hopes of luring millions of visitors to the region in the upcoming months, bringing increased economic returns to the country.

In the seven years Brazil has had to prepare for the World Cup, the country has been concentrating on constructing stadiums, upgrading the infrastructure, building hotels and beefing up national security. Unfortunately, not all developments have gone according to plan: the construction of at least six stadiums have been delayed or are behind schedule which has jeopardized further needed preparations for the events.

Not only has FIFA (the international governing body for football) voiced its concern for construction delays, protesters and worker strikes have questioned Brazil’s prioritization of public money towards the tournament. Protestors have petitioned for the government to use funds on improving public education, health care and transportation instead of funding the tournament. This deviation of public funds has sparked local criticism and contention for an international event that is meant to build global cooperation.

After the completion of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, a few of the stadiums that were built for the event have become under-utilized and a source of local contention. For example, the Green Point Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa now is home to a small South African Premier League team which has had high operational costs and low revenue, leading to local calls for its demolition.

The City of Manaus, deep in the Amazon Jungle, is in danger of building another future under-utilized World Cup Stadium. The city is building a $240 million futuristic stadium which will only be used for four group-stage matches. At a cost of $60 million per match and with only a few minor league football clubs interested in using the site in the future, the future sustainability of this project is in question. A local Manaus judge and president of the state prison system suggested renovating the quarter billion dollar football stadium into a prison. Other local leaders have scoffed at this idea and have maintained the future viability of the stadium for local culture, events, and sporting, but only time will tell.

Even with the challenges Brazil has faced for hosting the 2014 World Cup, there continues to be massive demand for tickets for the tournament. There have been 6.2 million ticket requests for the 64 matches, which is almost 5 million more than were requested four years earlier. Let’s hope that Brazil’s gamble at hosting the 2014 World Cup will boost economic growth of the country, trickling down funds to needed improvements in education, health care and transportation.

– Travis Whinery

Sources: The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, Bleacher Report

Brazil World Cup
Income inequality is at the heart of the protests currently raging across several Brazilian cities. Originally, the protests were about the twenty-cent price hike for bus fare. Eventually, however, they turned into protests about everything that’s wrong in Brazil.

Next year’s World Cup has added to the public dissent. Brazil’s rampant political corruption has resulted in huge expenditures. The government has spent twice the amount as Germany and South Africa spent on the World Cup.

It is predicted that FIFA will make over one billion dollars from the tournament, but Brazil will benefit very little. Originally, it was presumed that the Cup would be paid for by private investors and corporations, and that the public funds would go toward bettering the existing infrastructure. But then the Brazilian government lent money to build brand-new stadiums. Essentially, the government is spending billions of dollars on a private event that is so expensive that only the rich can attend.

It has become a bit of a paradox — a country that is a symbol of soccer to many has turned against the sport’s largest event. The huge public expenditure has left the people wondering: why can the country invest millions on a soccer tournament but can’t seem to find funds to fix the broken healthcare and education systems?

The independent protestors have balked at any specific political party that has tried to claim leadership in the demonstrations, preferring instead to remain a party-free dissident entity. Even the large Workers Party was shooed away.

The impact of the country-wide protests have already been felt. President Dilma Roussef went on TV and invited protestors into the head of the government to talk about what’s going on. She met with the Movimento Passe Livre, the university free fare group that started the protests, and ultimately ceded the twenty cent transport fare increase.

While the positive impacts have been felt, it is doubtful that any more progress will be made on the issue. With so little political cohesiveness within the demonstrators themselves, it appears that the dissidence will continue into the foreseeable future.

– Kathryn Cassibry

Sources: Fair Observer, The Guardian

Protests in Brazil Escalate over FIFA
In the last several years, Brazil has made major efforts to eradicate extreme poverty. The number of people living on less than $1.25 a day dropped from 16.4% in 1995 to 4.7% in 2009. Nonetheless, there are still 10 million Brazilians who live in extreme poverty. Protests have thus broken out over the heavy spending on new soccer stadiums in preparation for the FIFA World Cup.

Over a million people took to the streets to protest inequality within the country. The protesters’ main concern is the government is major expenditures, in the billions, directed for new and refurbished stadiums for upcoming World Cup and Olympics. The protestors are demanding that the money instead be spent on schools, hospitals, and better public transportation.

When more than 50,000 people came together on Thursday the 27th, 90 people were injured in a barrage of rubber bullets and teargas. Their goal was to reach the stadium in Fortaleza where Spain was playing Italy in the Confederation Cup, but their efforts were unsuccessful. Brazil has a history of violent oppression and the police attacks during the recent upheaval have certainly touched a nerve.

The President of FIFA, Sepp Blatter, responded to the protests saying, “I can understand that people are not happy, but they should not use football to make their demands heard. Brazil asked to host the World Cup. We didn’t force it on them.” FIFA is expecting to make record profits from advertising and broadcasting. Money that will not benefit the Brazilian people.

Marcos Nobre, a political philosophy professor at the University of Campinas and author of a new e-book on the revolt, was interviewed by Reuters about the recent protests. He said, “The streets are saying to the politicians: you have heard our voices, now let’s see what you will do with this.”

Nobre also claims that the demonstrations are far from over. The people will have to keep fighting if they want any real change to take place. Even with numerous economic successes, Brazil is still a country plagued by poverty. The residents only ask they receive the attention and assistance of the government before they start spending large quantities of money on mega-events.

– Chelsea Evans
Source: Inequality Watch, Reuters
Photo: Reuters

The Rousseff administration in Brazil has announced that its next step in its Growth Acceleration Programme (PAC) will be to allocate more than $1.2 billion for improving three favelas in Rio de Janeiro. The announcement comes three years before Rio de Janeiro is set to host the 2016 Olympic Games. Next year Brazil also will host the football World Cup.

PAC was launched in 2007 by the previous administration, that of President Lula da Silva, and focused on six initiatives to improve infrastructure, sanitation, and social development. Within three years, positive results were reported. Brazilian finance minister Guido Mantega called the effects of PAC on Brazilian growth “a great success.”

PAC 2, President Rousseff’s continuation of the program, has since been implemented. A June report from the Brazilian government announced major highlights by sector, including more than 3 million electricity connections, 540 water supply improvement projects in urban areas, and more than 7 million km of highways in progress throughout the country.

The Rio favelas that will receive the aid are Rocinha, Jacarezinho, and the Lins complex. Rocinha is the biggest slum in Brazil with a population of over 70,000, and it is also among the most developed favelas in Brazil. Many favelas are not as developed, suffering from lack of proper sewage and water facilities, as well as a high crime rate.

– Naomi Doraisamy
Source: BBC News, World Bank
Photo: iWall Screen

How the 2022 World Cup Could Help Alleviate Poverty
Qatar will be hosting the World Cup in 2022 which creates the problem of dealing with the high climate experienced by the region. Temperatures in Qatar reach roughly 104 Fahrenheit and while the World Cup has relatively little effect of many impoverished nations the developments made to assist in cooling the stadium could be implemented throughout the Middle East.

Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a former professional tennis player and current sports businessman, is acting as the organizing committee’s director of communications and marketing. The stadium has already had a cooling system installed which has earned it the title of being the first and only cooled stadium in the world. However, the main element of the 2022 World Cup that could help alleviate poverty is the method in which they power the cooling system.

Al-Khelaifi is working with companies in Germany to develop a more resilient solar power grid to help power the stadium. Germany has thus far been leading the way in solar power technology and should prove useful in developing a new technology to deal with the conditions of harvesting power in the desert. The main problems in harvesting solar energy in the desert are keeping the grids clean enough to run efficiently.

By working to develop grids more resistant to the harsh environment of the desert, Al-Khelaifi could be producing a useful technology to assist in powering the impoverished communities which lie in some of the world’s harshest environment.

When the new solar power grids are not using the energy gathered by the grids for the World Cup in 2022, it will be put toward powering the neighboring communities.

– Pete Grapentien

Source: Arab Times
Photo: Ahram Online