What Should Be Done To Protect Human Rights in Brazil?

by Outreach ~ June 18th, 2014. Filed under: News.

The World Cup seems to conjure up emotions for everyone around the world. Whether it be the excitement of rooting for your home country, the pleasure in watching your favourite athletes duke it out, or a socially acceptable reason to get smashed at the pub on a Tuesday, this four year inaugural tournament celebrating the ‘beautiful game’ is hard to ignore. This time around Brazil is the chosen one, the country that has been elected to herald this month of international joviality, unparalleled athleticism, and above all- the unprecedented love of football.

Brazil is a country of contradiction. As one of the BRIC nations it is one of the fastest growing economies in the world, yet suffers from incomparable amounts of poverty, crime, and corruption. Earlier in 2013, the 20 centavo (6 pence) rise of transport fares led to mass strikes and riots. What started as an isolated outcry developed to become a country-wide explosion of dissatisfaction and anger, underlying citizen’s issues with poor healthcare, education, and policing.http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Choque_lan%C3%A7ando_bomba_de_gas.jpg

The rest of the world reacted in horror as pictures and videos were released of Brazilian citizens being pelted by police officer’s rubber bullets, sprayed incessantly with tear gas, and in some horrifying instances, stun grenades were used against rioters expressing their fundamental freedom to protest against inequality.

Having the World Cup in a country where it is common for military tanks to be deployed in the streets is problematic and ultimately raises many humanitarian concerns.


In order for human rights to be upheld it is vital that Brazilian riot police be given adequate training on how to successfully quell a mob without resorting to potentially life threatening weapons. The injury and death toll at the result of the rioting is despicable, and in order for Brazilian’s to feel safe in both having the World Cup in their country, as well as feeling safe with expressing their discontent with that decision, the police have a responsibility to provide non violent security.

As the World Cup is now officially underway, the average Brazilian qualms against their country have not been quieted. Riots are still very active as Brazilians desperately fight against FIFA’s temporary invasion of their homeland. In past World Cups the streets were lined with customized art and Brazilian flags adorning almost every street corner, but this time around there is a palpable feeling of somberness throughout many communities. As you watch the game it’s easy to allow yourself to be ignorant to the ethical abominations that are happening streets away from the newly erected massive mecca-esque stadiums. These stadiums came at the cost of thousands of displaced families with favelas being destroyed in order for these structures to arise.

For human rights to be protected there needs to be a transparent front that shows how money is being allocated. Many Brazilians are frustrated with how funds have been spent in order to support the World Cup. The investment in the Cup has come at the cost of public taxpayer money. This means that taxes were raised in order to support a month-long celebration, instead of being invested towards permanent solutions to country-wide humanitarian dilemmas. Money that was put towards building stadiums and increasing World Cup tourist security was money lost on bigger schools with better qualified staff, better trained police officers, or more developed welfare for the country’s poorest citizens.

Brazil has a responsibility to ensure a safe and pleasant month for the visitors to enjoy the World Cup, but it’s questionable whether or not that should come before Brazil’s permanent residents.

UN Special Rapporteur for Adequate Housing and professor at University of Sao Paulo Raquel Rolnik has stated that “It’s very clear that the human rights legacy was not a real concern” in regards to constructing the parameters of the World Cup. In order for the public to both enjoy the festivity and true fun that is the World Cup and respect the strife that Brazilian’s are facing in light of this event it’s important for the athletes to take an active role in promoting humanitarian concerns.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/120663298@N03/13560096934Statements like “Brazil’s riots are not about the World Cup” from former Brazil striker Ronaldo continually perpetuate a false optimism that deflects from the true and just cause of the riots. When speaking out about the future of Brazil, athletes should look to the likes of former Brazilian footballer Zico who publicly admits that the World Cup comes at a deep humanitarian price to all Brazilians.

In order for Brazil to protect human rights during this month of exaltation it is vital that they maintain international transparency on the issues that they are fighting for. The world wants to stand with Brazil on issues that are deeper than football and booze. Long-term peacebuilding can only be reached with international political engagement that is rooted in public to politician conversation, honesty in the media, and an importance put on the citizen’s right to free expression.


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