Brazil: No World Cup?

Members of the Landless Workers Movement protest against the money spent on the World Cup near Arena Corinthians, which will host the tournament’s first match in São Paulo, Brazil. (AP Photo/Andre Penner)

[The great journalist Eduardo Galeano once wrote, “There are visible and invisible dictators. The power structure of world football is monarchical. It’s the most secret kingdom in the world.”  It is a cultural and economic “kingdom” that, along with Olympics and other mega-capitalist-profit and xenophobic-promotion projects, hijacks national budgets, leaving millions starving in the streets….and rising in rebellion in hundreds of city streets.  Here, David Zirin, the journalist whose career has focused on the politics of sport, the misuse of sport’s popularity, and the history of athlete’s activism, tells what is building up in Brazil with the approach of the FIFA World Cup. — Frontlines ed.]

‘There Will Be No World Cup’: Brazil on the Brink

Dave Zirin, The Nation blog, on May 15, 2014
For people just tuning in, the idea that people in Brazil would be protesting the 2014 World Cup makes about as much sense as New Yorkers’ rebelling against pizza. And yet here we are, less than one month before the start of the Cup, and demonstrations bear the slogan #NãoVaiTerCopa, or “There will be no Cup.”

Protests, strikes and direct actions have been flaring up across the country as the 2014 FIFA World Cup approaches. Most notably, as many as 10,000 people in São Paolo under the banner of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, or MTST, has occupied a major lot next to Arena Corinthians, site of the World Cup’s opening match. They call their occupation “The People’s Cup” and point out that the nearly half a billion dollars that went into building the “FIFA quality stadium” next door could have been used to combat poverty or improve healthcare. The slogan “we want FIFA quality hospitals and schools” still rings out as it did a year ago, when during the Confederation’s Cup, Brazil saw its largest protests in a generation. Now there is an even sharper desperation as the cup approaches. Maria das Dores Cirqueira, 44, a coordinator for the MTST, told the Los Angeles Times, “When the government told us we would host the World Cup, we hoped there would be improvements for us. But they aren’t putting on a Cup for the people, they’re putting on a Cup for the gringos.” Continue reading

Western Moves to Isolate Russia Spurs China-Russia Energy Deal

President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, right, and President Xi Jinping of China on Wednesday in Shanghai, where they signed a deal to send gas through a pipeline from Siberia to China. Credit Pool photo by Mark Ralston

BEIJING — China and Russia agreed to a major 30-year natural gas deal on Wednesday that would send gas from Siberia by pipeline to China, according to the China National Petroleum Corporation.

The announcement caps a decade-long negotiation and helps bring Russia and China closer than they have been in many years. The contract was driven to a conclusion by the presence of President Xi Jinping of China and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Shanghai for the last two days. Continue reading

Turkey: Coal Mine Capitalists and Erdogan Government kept Miners in Harm’s Way

Soma, Turkey mine disaster creates widespread anger at Erdogan.  by Carlos Latuff

Soma, Turkey mine disaster creates widespread anger at Erdogan. Cartoon by Carlos Latuff

Hundreds of Miners Die, Turkish Government Sides with Company

May 20, 2014 / Emre Eren Korkmaz, Labor Notes

Coal miners in Soma waited for news from rescuers after the biggest workplace disaster in Turkey’s history. The prime minister has sparked renewed protests by defending the company, which had boasted of its cost-cutting business model. Photo: Hilmi Hacaloğlu (VOA).
People in Turkey are sad and angry.
At least 300 workers lost their lives in the May 13 mine accident in Soma, a small town 300 miles from Istanbul. It was the biggest workplace disaster in Turkish history.
But instead of punishing management and promising to improve safety, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has openly defended the company.
Not just in Soma but in all parts of the country, people are angry and mobilizing against the government. The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has reacted with police violence, pepper gas, and water cannons.
A May 15 general strike called by several union federations was one of the biggest strikes in years. Last summer, protesters defending Istanbul’s Gezi Park against bulldozers touched off national protests against the Erdoğan regime and its pro-business agenda, with significant union participation. Continue reading

Reaching for “World-Class” Glory, the Brazilian State Unleashes a Reign of Terror in the Favelas

[In Brazil, the international promotion of a global sporting event, the FIFA World Cup of 2014, has driven a “sophisticated, cosmetic” PR and brutal policing and counter-insurgency program.   In this article, The Guardian describes the deadly repression of the poor, and  the “charm-the-tourists” propaganda campaign of the Brazilian state. — Frontlines ed.]

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Brazil’s favelas are in big trouble, despite the World Cup marketing push

, theguardian.com, Sunday 18 May 2014
'In Rio de Janeiro, the number of deaths in conflict with the police rose by 69% from 2013 to 2014.'

‘In Rio de Janeiro, the number of deaths in conflict with the police rose by 69% from 2013 to 2014.’ Photograph: Mario Tama/Getty Images

This week, a study by Amnesty International revealed that 80% of Brazilians are afraid of being tortured by their own police force on arrest. In a survey across 21 countries, Brazil was found to be the country where people feel most unsafe in the hands of authorities, almost twice the international average of 44%.

In Rio de Janeiro this fear is very real. Although the media has reported the efforts to pacify favelas across the city, armed violence has once again escalated in the city – weeks before it will receive thousands of football fans for the 2014 World Cup.

Back in 2008 favela residents dreamed of a life without violence as the government unveiled a project to build Pacifying Police Units (UPPs) in which policemen would be stationed to take back territory controlled by drug gangs for decades. Today the failures of this programme are starting to show – and a corrupt and violent police force is the main cause. Continue reading

Inter-Imperialist Contention and Seeds of Opposing Blocs Forming

China Calls for Security Pact with Russia, Iran

By Louise Watt, AP, May 21, 2014

SHANGHAI — China‘s president called Tuesday for the creation of a new Asian structure for security cooperation based on a regional group that includes Russia and Iran and excludes the United States.

President Xi Jinping spoke at a meeting in Shanghai of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-building measures in Asia, an obscure group that has taken on significance as Beijing tries to extend its influence and limit the role of the United States, which it sees as a strategic rival.

“We need to innovate our security cooperation (and) establish new regional security cooperation architecture,” said Xi, speaking to an audience that included President Vladimir Putin of Russia and leaders of Central Asian countries. Continue reading

“Housing Not Stadiums” protest in Brazil

[Urban reform movement in Brazil reflects the massive popular anger at the mis-allocation of the country’s resources, shown in the displacements of peoples and the huge stadium construction projects for the World Cup championships to be held in Brazil in June. — Frontlines ed.]

Wave of anti-government protests begins in Brazil

May 15, 2014
Associated Press

SAO PAULO (AP) — Protesters began a wave of demonstrations around Brazil on Thursday, burning tires and blocking highways to draw attention to housing and education needs before next month’s World Cup.

In Sao Paulo, the country’s biggest city, demonstrators blocked two key roads into the city and hundreds protested near one of the stadiums built for soccer’s premier tournament. Continue reading