So far, peace in Rio
Though violence erupted today in Recife and São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro was peaceful, as teachers and other protesters, estimated at up to two thousand people, marched and protested here.
A Rio public safety secretariat source said that police don’t expect any massive protests in coming months, but instead, smaller groups appearing in different parts of the city. The source added that at least five agencies, at different levels of government, are scrutizining social media for intelligence on protesters’ plans. They are sharing information and meeting regularly.
The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation has been training Rio police, and exercises held today (while other troops got in place to deal with downtown protesters) were the result of a week-long course that covered communication regarding event organization, decision-making, tactical exercises, social media, behavior indicators, information flow, incident management and intelligence groups.
Local police learned how to analyze images from helicopters and elevated platforms, to identify the elements of a crowd and try to anticipate violence.
Rio police regularly work in conjunction with police from other countries. For the World Cup, they also have support from a gamut of Brazilian public safety forces and the Brazilian military, as well.
São Paulo saw serious disturbances today, starting early in the morning with protesters blocking major arteries and ending with nighttime vandalism in downtown areas. Here is a roundup of protests in Brazilian capitals, part of the International Day of Protests against the World Cup.
The relative peace in Rio may be due to the fact that, after a two-day bus strike crippled the city, commuters today at last experienced public transportation normalcy. In addition, in late April the city had an extra day off, Saint George’s day, after celebrating Good Friday, Easter and Tiradentes holidays. With the World Cup expected to disrupt routines for a month even if there are few popular disturbances, many cariocas simply want to get some work done now.
Rio bus drivers and fare-takers are set to meet this coming Tuesday about their ongoing strike demands, made outside the formal union framework.
While Brazilians, young and old, may rack up record purchases of a traditional World Cup sticker album, many soccer enthusiasts feel an unprecedented ambivalence about supporting the national team. World Cup spending and priorities have put a damper on the usual quadrennial madness. But this could all change, once the games start and the beer begins to flow.