World Cup Gridlocked in São Paulo


SÃO PAOLO, Brazil -- The demonstration that shutdown subway networks in São Paulo, Brazil has halted, if only momentarily, after having plagued the biggest city in Brazil since last Thursday, 5 June 2014 .

Organizers of the transit union walkout suspended the five-day protest this morning, 10 June, in response to escalating traffic congestion that have turned the streets of São Paulo into one giant gridlock. International soccer enthusiasts have turned to taxi services in order to travel to Arena Corinthians, a major stadium located outside of São Paulo city limits.

Both sides in the ongoing saga are looking to compromise, although the leaders of the São Paulo transit union and Governor Geraldo Alckmin are currently stuck in stalemate. 60 employees have been fired after chaos erupted during union demonstrations yesterday, 9 June 2014.

During the protest on Monday, riot police removed the demonstrators by any means necessary, scattering hundreds of union members and sympathizers with stun grenades, tear gas and pepper spray. But the hostility between police and protestors has only further divided the opposing camps.

The São Paulo transportation union is now warning that subway employees will not return to work on Thursday, 12 June, unless the 60 employees are rehired and a 12.2% wage increase is met by authorities. On Thursday, Brazil welcomes the world to São Paulo during the opening World Cup match between Brazil and Croatia.

In the months leading up to the biggest sporting event in the world, Brazil has spent billions on infrastructure and planning. The effort to accommodate masses of international spectators has angered many Brazilians, especially those living in poverty. Those most affected include the residents evicted from select slums throughout Rio de Janeiro in preparation for World Cup fervor.

Governor Alckmin will honor a 8.7% increase in worker's salary, but has firmly rejected the 12.2% demand. Also, he has notified union officials that the fired men and women will not recover their lost jobs. Unless Alckmin or the union authorities rethink their position, continued disorder is guaranteed throughout Sao Paulo in the coming days.

The subway stoppage is only one of many concerns in an ongoing saga of protests against the Brazilian government. Notably, the eviction of blacks to make way for parking lots in Rio have been called racially-biased and unjust. Prices have increased for products across the board, surpassing even high-end predictions. And the investment of billions of dollars into the tournament has upset even more throughout the country.

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, Brazillians widely disapprove of the direction of their country. An April poll affirmed that 72% of nationals are discontented with their government.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Editor: @MAndrewRansom

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Brazilian Night Club Fire Kills Celebrants


Patrice Ellerbe, Staff WriterLast Modified: 14:08 p.m. EDT, 29 January 2013

Night Club Dancer, Photo by Bryan GoslineSANTA MARIA, Brazil - There should be no surprise that with only one exit, non-functioning fire extinguishers, flammable material covering the ceilings, no sprinklers, and a club 1,000 people over a capacity, and a bands pyrotechnics, this night at the club would not end well.

At the Kiss nightclub in Brazil, a fire broke out early morning hours of Sunday 27 January 2013, resulting in the deaths of more than 230 people.

Given the magnitude of this tragedy, one would surmise that the club would have prior citations for numerous violations. However, according to reports, this surprisingly was not the case, which has raised many questions regarding safety regulations governing buildings and other commercial and residential buildings.

This tragedy has raised grave concerns for citizens and visitors alike as the country is slated to host both the 2014 FIFA World Cup as well as the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

According to the Associated Press, documents have been obtained which included building and fire plan permits. Although the building was technically with compliance, Sunday's fire highlighted the fact that Brazilian codes are not on par with other developed or developing nations which is both a hazard for its citizenry and nearly 5.5 million visits annually according to the ministry of tourism.

In a document obtained by the Associated Press, the club was already at a “medium” risk for having a fire. The club owner was then informed that the nightclub would need to be inspected annually in order to stay open.

Records show that the last inspection was conducted in August of 2011. Fire extinguishers were among the items scheduled to be checked during the next inspection. After the fire it was determined that the extinguishers in the club were non-functioning. Survivors stated that they tried to use the extinguisher when the fire initially erupted but quickly discovered to their horror that they did not work.

Police investigator, Marcelo Arigony, stated in a press release on Tuesday, 29 January 2013 that it was known that the fire extinguishers were not inspected and further, that the models that were used were of inferior quality and in his opinion should not have been used in the club or any other facility.

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Published: 30 January 2013 (Page 2 of 2)

On Sunday morning, around 2:30 a.m., country music band, Gurizada Fandangueira performed at the club. The band is known for using pyrotechnics during their performances; however, the nightclub owners either did not take this into account or decided to take a risk because of the anticipated revenue.

The band’s guitarist told media that the club was packed with an estimated 1,200 to 1,300 people, which matched police observations. This figure greatly exceeds the club’s authorized capacity which was under 700 people.

Also at fault is the band because the pyrotechnics which they use are approved for outdoor use only. Once again, it appears that the use of incompatible flares was driven by economic considerations. The band utilized flares which cost $1.25, whereas the pyrotechnics intended for indoor use were priced at $35.

In Brazil, an exit is only required for every 131 feet. The farthest point from the door in the club was only 105 feet, thus making it acceptable to have only one exit, no sprinklers nor alarms. According to Jaime Moncada, a US-based fire-safety consultant with experience in Latin America, stated “In the US, the club would have failed an inspection at least three ways”. He adds, “…three separate exits would be required; the foam on the ceiling would have to be treated, and it would need sprinklers.

It is clear that Brazil is behind when it comes to fire-safety and prevention; however, after the world’s deadliest night club fire in a decade, changes seem to be coming. The mayor in Santa Maria has ordered all night clubs to be closed for 30-days while inspections were completed and lawmakers consider what legal measures can be instituted to prevent a repeat of this type of tragedy.

Since the fire at the night club, over 60 phone calls have been made to a complaint hotline announcing dangerous conditions at other night clubs, theaters, supermarkets, hospitals, and shopping malls.

Citizens are in outrage and are demanding change is Santa Maria. About 500 protestors stood outside City Hall, chanting, “We want justice!”. Eighteen year old, Elise Parode was amongst the protestors. She expressed, “We want the government held accountable, just like the owners of the bar!”.

Follow Patrice Ellerbe on Twitter
Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @PatriceEllerbe
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