Brazil says security on track
Brazil has a reputation for being one of the world’s more violent societies, but organisers of next summer’s Confederations Cup and the 2014 World Cup insist that security will not be a problem at either event. Claire de Oliveira Neto writes
With the sporting spotlight firmly fixed on the Latin American giant, organisers are pointing to the country’s ability over the years to deal with huge carnivals, particularly in Rio, drawing hundreds of thousands of locals and tourists from around the globe.
And they insist that they will be able to draw on that experience when it comes to marshalling fans who will flock to two of the biggest dates on the international sporting calendar after drawing up extensive security plans in conjunction with world body FIFA.
The wide-ranging plan was drawn up last August and designates clearly zones requiring special protection while organising coordination between the police and the armed forces.
The plan also defines the main potential risks to the tournaments going off smoothly – namely fan violence, organised crime and terrorist threats.
“The FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 requires the widest-ranging security organisation on an international level.
“Our objective is to have no problems in order to allow everyone to enjoy the festival,” Valdinho Jacinto Caetano, special justice ministry secretary for overseeing major events, told AFP.
He says clear guidelines have been drawn up within the security plan – threats from outside national borders, port and airport and border protection as well as grading threats be they from the air, land-based, maritime or of the cyber variety.
The chief measures will be adopted wholesale by the six host cities of the Confederations Cup next June and the 12 cities which will stage the World Cup which Brazil will host for the first time since 1950.
The measures will also extend to adjacent areas.
Brazil has one of the highest homicide rates in the world with 25 deaths per year per 100,000 habitants – though it has yet to fall victim to terrorism.
“The worst scenario for the World Cup would be a terror attack,” according to the strategic plan for the event.
“You cannot rule out a terrorist attack – certain teams can be targeted – but Brazil is not a country targeted by terrorism,” says Ignacio Cano, an expert on patterns of violence at The University de Rio de Janeiro (Uerj).
Justice ministry spokesman Caetano says that airport and port security “is already being stepped up” owing to the Confederations Cup and also a visit by Pope Benedict. The military will stand guard on land and sea borders.
The Brazilian authorities want to convey a reassuring impression and say that the Rio+20 UN meeting last June served as a test run for the logistical challenges ahead.
In contrast to the 1992 Earth Summit there were no armoured cars with guns pointing in the direction of Rio’s favelas or shanty towns – in those days the homicide rate was 64.5 per 100,000 inhabitants.
“A safe city is one which can stage major events in total tranquility,” says Rio’s federal commissioner Roberto Alzir.
“Since 2008 we have met major challenges in pacifying the favelas,” police moving in to expel drugs traffickers who had operated with impunity for some 30 years, Alzir stresses.
Alzir also notes that three drones from the Institute of Military Engineering (IME) will underpin security while also being deployed to gain advance warning from the air of possible risk of landslide.
Brazilian police, who have a reputation for violence and corruption which precedes them, “will carry less lethal weapons such as stun guns and pepper spray. They are undergoing special training” with a view to deploying that equipment, says Alzir.
Expert on violence Cano says that “Brazil has experience of organising mega events,” hence assuring security at the World Cup “will not be difficult.”