Brazil: Preparations for the Rio Olympics Hurt Afro-Brazilians
As host of the 31st Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro will attract as many as 500,000 tourists. Yet, the widely reported efforts to prepare for the games have left many questioning whether Rio is ready. Among the many issues, the government has tried desperately to sweep its impoverished favelas under the rug by increasing police and army presence.
Rio’s local Afro-Brazilian population has long felt the impact of these brutal crackdowns, first with the World Cup in 2014, and now the Olympic Games. “Urban segregation in Rio de Janeiro was aggravated with the preparation to receive the sports mega events,” anthropologist Luciane O. Rocha, a researcher at the Nucleo de Estudos da Cidadania Conflito e Violência Urbana of the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, told The Root.
More than 20,000 military officers are said to be part of the security force for the Olympics while reports of racial profiling among poor black youth has increased, and some have reportedly been denied access to wealthy, beach neighborhoods.
It is clear to many Afro-Brazilians that the government’s push for increased police presence in favela communities has aggravated an already problematic issue of violence between the poor and the police. Additionally, the region has seen an increase in black deaths: In 2015, more than 480 black men were killed by the police in Rio.
Feeling unwelcome and excluded in their own city, Rio’s local, poor black population have little to celebrate this Olympics.