Africa Gets Ready (Part Two) Events and Infrastructure – Archive

Editorʼs Note:

We published this series of articles five years ago. We think they are still relevant, so we are republishing them now.

Derek Miller

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (November 27th 2009)

The Events Strategy

South Africans including Dr Danny Jordaan, the CEO of Africa’s World Cup, realised that sport offered the means to achieve those ends and would engage the new nation as well as unite them. All races love sport in South Africa. Itʼs a similar story in Brasil – well almost. Patience ran out with the cost and corrupt practices that had been tolerated there for years. People had other priorities, especially in such austere times. But few things can advertise a country like a sporting event – the Olympic Games and footballʼs World Cup being top of the food chain.

We decided to follow a major event strategy,” said Jordaan. “We hosted the Rugby World Cup in 1995, the African Cup of Nations in 1996, 1998 the World Athletics Championship, 2002 the cricket world cup to sustain a development consciousness of a united nation in our country. We now had the cricket 20/20 World Cup in 2007. We have the motor-racing and a whole host of events”.

But South Africa was far from content. “We made a bid for 2004 Olympics, but lost out to Athens”, he said. “We made a bid for 2006 World Cup, but lost out to Germany and now we are hosting 2010 and what that has done is two things that is important: one is that South Africa was not forgotten after 1994; secondly and perhaps more importantly, through hosting all of those major events there was infrastructure improvement in our country.”

Infrastructure

Jordaan is not just talking about sporting infrastructure, although there will be new stadiums and existing ones will be refurbished too. “It was not only the stadiums,” Jordaan said. “It was many other things – a number of hotels have been built in our country and investment, direct investment, as well as of course tourism. We have seen an eleven percent annual growth in tourism”.

Encouraging tourism was plainly part of the development strategy, but the events strategy has flaws. Once the event is settled – the bid successful – costs spiral out of control. Construction costs double or worse as there is no choice. You canʼt have a World Cup sub-standard stadiums. Some had to be built from scratch and others brought up to modern requirements.

This would cost. It was budgeted for, but that was before the event had to happen. Afterwards, the stadiums had to be built or refurbished and costs for materials and work rose as suppliers rewrote the laws of supply and demand. They realised they could demand more to supply what was needed and did so.

To make matters worse, the workers actually doing the constructing continued to be exploited and their safety was not the priority it should have been. There were serious accidents – fatalities even – but workersʼ rights still remained a low priority. This is not an issue confined to South Africa. Brasil is experiencing it now and Qatar too has attracted headlines about it.

Ukraine and Poland experienced spiralling costs too. And all hosts face another problem – private enterprise. Market-based economics is incompatible with a sporting-event development strategy. A mark up on prices is expected – inevitable even – but doubling, trebling or more of prices for accommodation is outrageous and short-sighted, especially in tourist-based economies.

South Africa is a beautiful country. So too is Brasil. These are countries worth visiting and to some extent dependent on visitors recommending them. Having visited both countries there is much to love about both, but I went to both during sporting events and also when there were none. The difference in price and also attitude was stark.

On both visits we covered sport too and observed attitudes. There was a marked difference. Prices were reasonable and people more welcoming too, as they knew you had chosen to be there because you liked their country and not because an event meant you had to be there. And this is the events trap. It is a chance to sell the country long term, but that will not happen if visitors feel ripped off afterwards. Nevertheless, Jordaan is having none of it. He believes in the strategy of using sporting-events to induce tourism.

In 2007 we went beyond seven million foreign tourists into our country, so I think that through hosting major events we have been quite successful in keeping the focus on our country, developing South Africa as a country, getting the infrastructure improvement”, Jordaan says, “because in most countries in the period of liberation or democracy there is a decline in the infrastructure, especially those countries that went through the decolonisation process”.

He explains further. “In our case from 1990 to 2008 the infrastructure in our country has improved and is much better”, Jordaan says. “Our economy is much better and we had investment from Vodafone and investment in Standard Bank one of our banks in South Africa and that was over US $12 billion”.

 

 

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They Shall Not Pass

by Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 17th 2014)

Tactical Nous

World Cup hosts Brasil experienced a frustrating evening in Fortaleza as Miguel Herreraʼs México withstood everything that Luiz Felipe Scolariʼs team could throw at them. It ended 0-0, but this was no bore draw. Scolari had previously said that México was the team that gave them the stiffest test in the Confederations Cup and beat them in the Olympic Games – the one title to elude the Brasilians.

Undoubted Man of the Match Guillermo Ochoa who plays in Franceʼs Ligue Un for Ajaccio proved to be an unbreakable final barrier. Neymar rose to to meet Barçelona team-mate Dani Alves da Silvaʼs cross head powerfully at goal, but Ochoa was determined not to be beaten. A firm right hand pushed it away for a corner.

A fantastic save and there were more to come. Neymarʼs free-kick was superbly chested through by Brasilʼs captain Thiago Silva into the path of Spurs midfielder Paulinho. Somehow, Ochoa blocked his effort from point blank range.

Clearly, tonight it would require something special to beat Ochoa and Fredʼs consistently weak efforts wasted Neymarʼs work in particular The controversial Fluminense forward who starred in the Confederationsʼ Cup last year had a dreadful match – as bad as Ochoa excelled.

Midway through the second half Neymar was once again denied by Ochoa at the expense of a corner which he collected after juggling it and unleashing a long clearance that Dani Alves did well to head clear. As the half entered its final ten minutes Paris Saint-Germainʼs Thiago Silva had little choice but to foul Manchester Unitedʼs Javier Hernández, who had just replaced Méxicoʼs star striker Oribe Peralta – one of the home-based players. Peralta plays for Santos Laguna.

Villarrealʼs Giovanni dos Santos took a poor free-kick that resulted in a quick break. Bernard tried to find former Manchester City and Everton striker Jô (João Alves de Assis da Silva) who currently plays alongside Ronaldinho at Atlético Mineiro, but Ochoa intercepted at the forwardʼs feet. Shortly afterwards Silva could not believe his ill-fortune as Ochoa thwarted him yet again with an instinctive save.

Ambitions

While Brasil could not find a a way past the final barrier Ochoaʼs defence performed well too. Veteran captain Rafa Márquez, captaining the team for a fourth World Cup – a record – marshalled the defence well. Francisco Rodríguez thwarted Neymar by intercepting Bernardʼs cross. The rub of the whistle seemed to go to the hosts, but without dire consequences.

Ten minutes into the match Marceloʼs fantastic pass down left wing released Chelseaʼs Óscar who crossed to Fred the striker was offside, but it was not given. Fred wasted the opportunity by rippling the side-netting. It wasnʼt the only poor decision. Replays showed that Héctor Herrera shot was tipped over by Brasilʼs goalkeeper Júlio César Soares de Espíndola (usually known as Júlio César), but a goal-kick was given – yet another case for using replays!

As the match progressed México attacked, but restricted themselves to long-range shooting. With five minutes left of the first half Miguel Layún shot wide from distance. Andrés Guardado had a couple of efforts that met the same fate as did another from Herrera. A dreadful attempt from Marcelo to try to get a penalty – he went down far too cheaply after minimal contact by Raúl Jiménez. In injury time Júlio César saved Jiménezʼ effort. Draw, yes – bore draw, no.

 

 

The Disappeared (Part Three) – Hope

Editor’s Note:

The World Cup starts today in the country which gave us Samba Football. The Beautiful Game found its most famous outlet here. But Brasil is a mass of contradictions. Its football inspired millions. It was exported to Africa, inspiring the African team of the 1960s Ghana to great heights.

Existing side by side with fantastic football – a joy to behold – is the darkest side of this glorious country. Coups led to despotic government, gross abuses of human rights and a shameful failure to redress the gross wrongs of the past.

The favelas – some notorious and violent – are tourist attractions that will doubtless involve revenue being raised, but not distributed among the poverty-stricken. Corruption is rife. Brasilians want health-care, education – the necessities of life far more than the Confederations Cup, the World Cup or the Olympic Games – hence the demonstrations, but one demand is absent.

It is a fundamental one – justice for the Disappeared. A year ago we took up cudgels on their behalf. Today, we republish that call for justice. Enjoy the World Cup, but remember those robbed of that opportunity.

Derek Miller

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 30thth 2013)

Notorious

The infamous Operation Condor involved cooperation between various South American dictatorships in the 1970s to eliminate or torture opponents. Documents exposing the extent of the operation were unearthed in Paraguay in December 1992. But such documents and testimony of survivors is not the only evidence available to give justice to the Disappeared.

Brasil is still getting to grips with its shady past – a history that may include the murder of former Presidents by agents of neighbouring dictatorships. These crimes were said to have been organised and executed through Operation Condor. The allegations of the murder of two former Presidents of Brasil came first from a former Governor of Rio Grande do Sul and also Rio de Janeiro Leonel Brizola, now deceased.

Brizola claimed João Goulart and Juscileno Kubitschek in fact been murdered on the orders of then ʻPresidentʼ Ernesto Geisel – the militaryʼs chosen candidate as part of Operation Condor. Brizolaʼs claims were later verified by Mario Neira Barreiro, a former security services agent for Uruguay’s dictatorship. Barreiro is currently serving a prison sentence in Brasil for arms-smuggling.

Barreiro claims that the late head of Brasil’s Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS) Sérgio Fleury (pronounced Flay-uree) was the link between Brasil’s and Uruguay’s dictatorships. According to Barreiro, Fleury demanded that Goulart must be murdered. He says that Goulart was poisoned. Goulart was rapidly buried without an autopsy testing the claims that he had been poisoned.

Kubitschek was alleged to have died in a car cr, ash. Again there was no post-mortem examination. In both cases the claims of murder are very serious and must be resolved. However, that would require exhumation and examination and possibly scientific testing using the latest procedures. It remains to be seen if Brasil has the will to turn these stones from the past.

Hope for the Future

There is a will now to expose the crimes of the past, including from unlikely sources at least in other South American countries. The USAID (United States Agency for International Development) provides humanitarian aid. It also demanded progress on the Disappeared in that country – providing concrete assistance too.

Among the countries that have received assistance is Colombia, which has a President in Juan Manuel Santos determined to tackle the scandals of the past and a reputation that was once true of Colombia, but no longer. Among the outrages of that country’s past that Santos is facing head on is that country’s Disappeared.

Relatives of Colombia’s Disappeared have hope now. USAID has provided assistance and the prestigious Instituto Nacional de Medicina Legal y Ciencias Forenses is providing the cutting edge science needed to enable the law and judiciary to catch up with the injustices of the past.

Blueprint

The Disappeared are able to tell their stories – finally. “We conduct the DNA tests on the remains”, Medicina Legal’s Director Dr Carlos Eduardo Valdes explained to me exclusively. “There is a National Database of the Disappeared, so we can get the DNA of relatives and identify the remains”.

This offers a blueprint for other countries. Knowing who the victims are and when they disappeared can help to identify perpetrators as well. There may even be the DNA of perpetrators on the remains or their clothing linking them to their crimes.

After all, these crimes occurred before anyone knew that the day would come when DNA testing could help tie them to their crimes. The Disappeared of South America’s dictatorships are beginning to accuse their torturers from beyond the grave. Brasil is no different.

 

 

The Disappeared (Part Two) – We Remember

Editor’s Note:

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The World Cup starts today in the country which gave us Samba Football. The Beautiful Game found its most famous outlet here. But Brasil is a mass of contradictions. Its football inspired millions. It was exported to Africa, inspiring the African team of the 1960s Ghana to great heights.

Existing side by side with fantastic football – a joy to behold – is the darkest side of this glorious country. Coups led to despotic government, gross abuses of human rights and a shameful failure to redress the gross wrongs of the past.

Police at Stadium

The favelas – some notorious and violent – are tourist attractions that will doubtless involve revenue being raised, but not distributed among the poverty-stricken. Corruption is rife. Brasilians want health-care, education – the necessities of life far more than the Confederations Cup, the World Cup or the Olympic Games – hence the demonstrations, but one demand is absent.

It is a fundamental one – justice for the Disappeared. A year ago we took up cudgels on their behalf. Today, we republish that call for justice. Enjoy the World Cup, but remember those robbed of that opportunity.

Derek Miller

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (June 30thth 2013)

The Commissions

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The Eremias Delizoicov Centre for Documentation and the Families’ Commission of Political Deaths and Disappearances has a website highlighting the crimes of that era and their quest for justice. As with other South American dictatorships, the disappeared are finally getting to accuse their torturers from beyond the grave, as forensic science tells their stories. According to the website 379 disappeared have been named. The actual toll is likely to be far higher.

One of the major tests of Brasil’s democracy now is how it deals with the issue of the Disappeared and also the victims of torture in that era. Brasil’s President, Dilma Rousseff, was once a Marxist guerilla, who was captured and tortured during the dictatorship. She could easily have become one of the Disappeared or died in detention herself and is therefore cautious about how she proceeds on this thorny issue.

She doesn’t want her actions to be seen as politically motivated revenge for her previous ordeal. Nevertheless, the young democracy, with its soul awakened once more, must now tackle the crimes of the past. In order to build a safe and democratic process torture and disappearance of political opponents must have consequences – serious ones.

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Rousseff established a Truth Commission in 2011 and a year earlier the persistent quest for justice resulted in the Organisation of American States’ Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruling that the 1979 Amnesty Law was null and void in a landmark judgement in December 2010. Among the cases that this opened up was the murder of respected journalist Vladimir Herzog.1

No Statute of Limitations

Slightly before the Confederations’ Cup began the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights came to Brasil to demand progress on the investigation into Herzog’s death. The Brasilian government had previously insisted that the Amnesty law applied. An impasse has occurred that Rousseff can and must resolve.

Herzog’s death 38 years ago was a pivotal moment in modern Brasilian history. It helped to bring down the dictatorship by awakening a nation’s consciousness. Now it is time the debt is repaid by ensuring that almost four decades after he died under torture justice is served to his memory and for his family. It is the very least Herzog, his family and Brasil deserve.

Without the sacrifice of Herzog, the Disappeared and those opposing the dictatorship the streets of Brasil would not be remotely safe to demonstrate in now. Today’s demonstrators owe a debt they are too young to appreciate to their parents’ generation for winning them the right to demonstrate in comparative safety.

Night View in Rio

Doesn’t that sacrifice deserve justice, however belated? There is therefore no barrier to prosecuting the perpetrators of these atrocities if there is sufficient evidence. And there is.

Belated Justice

Last year one of the most notorious of the dictatorship’s enforcers Sebastião Cúrio Rodrigues de Moura was charged over the disappearance and likely murder of five left-wing activists. The charges were initially thrown out under the 1979 Amnesty Law – wrongly – and Cúrio may yet face trial. He is not alone.

Another then Colonel, Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, faced charges over the murder of journalist Luiz Eduardo Merlino. His death, during the darkest days of Brasil’s dictatorship, implausibly had been claimed to have been suicide. Merlino’s relatives doggedly demanded Ustra be prosecuted. Again they have had some success, but as yet there have been no convictions in Brasil. If Brasil is to emerge from the shadow of the dictatorship once and for all justice must be delivered without fear nor favour.

View of Rio

1  See The Disappeared (Part One) – Amnesty and Amnesia that was published in the magazine previously for further details.