The languid seaside city of Rio de Janriro, normally characterized by its white sand beaches and carnival celebrations, is becoming better known for tear gas and chaotic anticapitalist demonstrations.
The World Cup was meant to be a lovefest between a soccer-mad nation and a championship it has won a record five times. But many here now worry that what was supposed to be Brazil’s coming-out party on the global stage could be marred by protesters and vandals who don’t feel the country’s economic and political rise has broadly benefited its citizens.
“The hope brought by the World Cup and the Olympics has run out,” said Doriam Borges, a researcher at the University of the State of Rio’s Laboratory of Violence Analysis. Citizens realized that “for projects related to the World Cup and the Olympics, investment was huge, but not for health and education.”
The protests add to security concerns for organizers, who already face the daunting task of safely ushering tens of thousands of fans and athletes around the country. The federal government has also activated military troops to assist.
Rio state security officials say they have paid $6.9 million in extra costs for the protests over the past three months, including overtime to police officers, and expect to pay as much as $1.8 billion by the time the World Cup is over.
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