See last post.
Sent to me by my young housemate Jim Ollis, who was in Brazil last winter. He wrote the text. It makes us look at giant international stadium construction with entirely new eyes.
Trilha do Senhor
I came across one of the strongest and kindest communities I have ever met, in Fortaleza Brazil.
This community was right in the middle of the city, surrounded by high-rise skyscrapers and the typical encroaching elements of Gentrification.
There was a set of railroad tracks right beside the community and I saw big train cars of freight move through, with the engineer giving a blow of the whistle and all the local young men working on the freight cars waving and smiling to the community as they passed by.
The community had planted a long stand of trees right by the tracks to block out some of the pollution from the trains. Cats, Chickens and young children playing soccer and other games filled the small space between the train tracks and the front stoops of the houses; Many of the families had small gardens right outside their doors.
A group of us, comprised of activists from several parts of Brazil along with activists from the U.S. were invited into their community and so many of their family homes to see what they had, what they were proud of and what would be taken away.
This wonderful community was under serious threat of losing everything they had; Their homes, their neighbors, their friends, being torn apart and scattered to the winds, with no (significant) compensation. People already without much, would be left with even less.
All of this was being done ……. for a Soccer Stadium.
Brazil had been chosen as the host of the 2014 World cup.
And like International sporting event after international sporting event. The poor were being displaced, so a brand new stadium could be built, along with new service rail lines for the event.
You would think a preexisting stadium would be enough, but it never is.
The stadiums with the highest crowd capacity in Brazil currently are Morumbi which can seat 84,000 in São Paulo and Maracanã in Rio de Janeiro originally built for the 1950 Fifa world cup which can seat 82,238. While these two large stadiums can already seat more people than the entire population of large towns in the U.S., Fifa has projected that 3.3 million tickets will be available for the 2014 World cup, which to put in perspective, will be a stadium that could seat the entire population of the city of Chicago and then some.
So who are these stadiums really for?
When you think about it, anyone coming to this game from Europe or the U.S. is going to travel by air, which alone might cost 1,200 to 2,000 dollars or more and the tickets per game can average between 200 to 800 dollars! The world cup being a multi-game event.
The average person can not afford this, despite Fifa’s propaganda.
Another somewhat insidious fact is that 450,000 tickets are reserved through Fifa’s “Hospitality Packages” which have been available for sale, but not to the general public, since 2011.
On top of this there are even more reserved seats through V.I.P. Tickets and the tickets given to corporate sponsors.
I would make the case that these are the people who this elaborate spectacle is really for.
These are the people who destroy communities by building soccer stadiums and call it urban development, these are the people who leave a trail of homeless refugees in their wake.
While visiting with the community of Trilha do Senhor (Trail of the Lord) an Elder of the community approached me and began to tell me Her story.
I did my best to understand at the time, but my Portuguese is very bad and no translator was nearby. I desperately wanted to understand her words, because I knew they were important and of great significance. I saw the emotion in her face and heard it in her words and I wanted to cry with her.
Though I was unable to understand her words and her story, I was able to listen; those in power also need to learn to listen.
I hope now, these few pages might convey the situation that the people of Trilha do Senhor and all the other communities affected by these large stadium constructions face.
The People of Trilha do Senhor are good, strong people who have built a fantastic community over 70 years in the middle of the city, just off the train tracks.
They should not be forced to lose everything they have built within these past 70 years, so that an elite group of people can have their fun for a few days watching a soccer match in person.
The mentality of those building these stadiums is not dissimilar to the ancient Romans watching their bloodsport, spare no expense for the sake of entertainment, in this case a sum of 33 billion dollars for the World Cup and Olympic Stadiums plus related structures, and ethics be dammed.
It’s ok to watch a Football game, but we don’t have to destroy entire communities and throw people into drastic conditions of homelessness and poverty while doing it.
With the cameras we have today, do we really enjoy watching the game that much less through T.V.? And even if the experience of watching the game is enhanced by being there in person, is it really worth all this expense and destruction?
Most people would agree to these rational points of using existing stadiums with a diminished stadium audience and watching from home, but the real issue is that these are events pushed forward and primarily held for an elite wealthy group of people.
If we are able to see these events as such, instead of as the benign sporting events they are presented to be and if we make the related consequences of these events widely known, perhaps we can then exert pressure enough to prevent these massive stadium constructions, now and in the future.
Jim’s new friends in Brazil sent these videos to him, hoping to get more publicity for what is going on. The first video was posted in September, 2012. The second video calls for “a world-wide outlash” to embarrass Brazilian officials enough to make them change what they’re doing. “Please, make some noise!”
The second on June 14, 2013