Hope you didn't have to call anyone in Rio
The Brazil crisis, situation, or whatever else you want to call it got very interesting over the last few days. Check out this from Reuters via the New York Times:
The state government of Rio de Janeiro, which is feverishly preparing for next year’s Olympic Games, has failed to pay its phone and Internet bills, triggering a cutoff in service, the phone company responsible said on Friday.
The company, Oi, said it had cut the lines after the state government racked up $55.7 million in unpaid Internet and telephone bills due over three years ago.
As Rio de Janeiro State pays for a number of large infrastructure projects in time for the Olympics, its tax revenue has fallen along with a drop in the price of oil.
The cuts to the lines do not affect vital services like fire protection, schools or hospitals, Oi said.
A spokesman for the state government contested the debt figure and said Oi also owed the state money.
Of course, all of this comes on top of marches and more marches. There is awful anger over the corruption and economy. The marches are growing and getting louder, as reported by Donna Bowater:
Fabio Ostermann, a political scientist who backed the Free Brazil Movement (MBL), said:
“We need to show them that Brazil is no longer a country where politicians can do whatever they want without suffering the consequences.
“Dilma no longer has political, legal or especially moral conditions to occupy the presidency of the republic. It’s time for impeachment or surrender.”
Mr Ostermann conceded that the protests attracted less support in absolute numbers than the last nationwide demonstration on March 15 but said the movement had spread to more cities.
Wonder how all of this is going to impact the Olympics coming next year? A Brazilian friend in Dallas said a couple of interesting things:
1) The marches will get bigger and louder as the games get closer. He believes, and I agree, that marchers will get the attention of many international journalists about to arrive in the country.
2) He is less and less confident that President Dilma Rouseff will survive. In other words, she's just a little too close to the corruption. She's also very unlucky as the economy gets worse and worse.
I'm sure that this is not what the Brazilian political class had in mind when they worked so hard to bring the games to their country.
What a situation, or "que situção," as they say in Portuguese.