Violence in Rio de Janeiro

A Brazilian newspaper and The New Yorker fight over Rio's Olympics bid

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Obama is pushing hard for Chicago to host the Olympics in 2016, but Rio de Janeiro has been stumping for the 2016 games as well. A peculiarly timed New Yorker article, however, could alter perception of Brazil's capital city in a manner unlikely to help their chances. This week, the magazine ran a very long, very negative piece by John Lee Anderson exploring Rio's drug gangs and the crime sweeping the city. But, as Foreign Policy noted, the Brazilian press isn't taking this lying down. A Rio newspaper, O Globo, hit back. "It's War!" the paper declared, summing the New Yorker's description of Rio slums (and, just maybe, of the Rio-Chicago fight for the Olympics).

The New Yorker summarized the article:

The drug gangs impose their own system of justice, law and order, and taxation—all by force of arms. Rio is the top-ranked city in the world for "violent international deaths," with just under five thousand murders last year, at least half of which were drug-gang related. Two decades after the collapse of Communism the region's Marxist guerrillas have disappeared, only to be replaced by violent drug mafias. The politician and former guerrilla Alfredo Sirkis likens the spread of Rio's gang culture to Al Qaeda's appeal to disenfranchised youths in Muslim societies.

O Globo expressed skepticism about the timing, playing down fears of violence (via a very rough Google translate):

On Monday, the author said in New York, it typically takes about three months to find and write a report and this was also the time it took to get the profile of gangs in Rio. Anderson wishes to clarify that Rio loves and believes the city is fully capable of hosting athletes and maintain the security of the Olympics, but not really a dispute between drug traffickers and police cease to be serious.

O Globo also noted Chicago's own violence, again hitting the New Yorker (via Google translate):

A day after the American magazine 'The New Yorker published a matter classifying the Rio de Janeiro "Earth gangs', a video showing a 16-year old being beaten to death by a gang of Chicago, in United States of America, is causing great impact on the Internet. The shocking images of the murder of Albert Derrion during a fight at the exit of the college, released by local police, already appears as one of the ten topics most discussed among users worldwide network microblog Twitter.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.