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Rio: An island of relative safety in a sea of vulnerability?

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It’s impossible to hear this and not imagine a member of some angry splinter group, sect, or ethnic minority popping over to Rio for the Olympics, easily picking up a weapon, getting him or herself to the top of a building and doing a Lee Harvey Oswald at a delegation en route to some competition.

Which would not exactly be a boon for tourism in Rio de Janeiro.

The state and city governments of Rio de Janeiro are politically allied with [the capital city of] Brasília, but Beltrame’s plaint indicates cracks. And these, plus longtime neglect, have led to a situation, RioRealblog has heard, where the country has a spotty national crime database, crime prevention based more on static police presence than patrols, intelligence based on wiretaps and cellphone monitoring, border patrols that use cellphones (antennae-permitting) for long range communications and position mapping, and almost zero vessel monitoring in Guanabara Bay. Fuel is also short, for waterway monitoring in much of the country.

Just last year, Brazil experienced its worst natural disaster ever, with 800 deaths from flooding in the mountains of the state of Rio de Janeiro. Six months later, a state attorney general who volunteered to help there told an OsteRio debate audience of her experience. “There were several secretaries, lots of people, federal, state, and city officials, each with his own set of priorities, everyone defending his territory,” said Denise Muniz de Tarin. “Things got better only when a general showed up. He put a map on the table.”

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