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January 25, 2015



"So if the Olympics aren't enough to pressure authorities to make the clean-up a priority, what will?"

The answer is, sadly, nothing will. Cariocas like to complain about such things as Guanabara Bay pollution and such, while their dog wets on the beach or defecates on a sidewalk. In other words, it is someone else's problem. Unfortunately, the elected politicians cannot prioritize environmental concerns as they are too consumed with just keeping the City functioning using duct tape and staples, while corruption, mismanagement and incompetence act as guiding principles. I recall the French subsidized sewage treatment plants on Guanabara Bay, and the now famous quote years after they were completed, "the shit never showed up". How is it even possible to have built several sewage treatment plants without ever building the infrastructure to deliver the sewage to those plants?

The Brasilian philosophy that "all problems solve themselves, and the ones which don't we will deal with later" is not one which leads to a healthy, well functioning society. Take the current water crisis as an example. It was well know more than a year ago there was a potentially serious water shortage looming, yet not until the water is practically all gone and a humanitarian crisis is looming does government step in with ideas on how to deal with it.

Sadly, the Olympic sailing competition needs to be moved for the health of the athletes and supporting teams. That involves a lot more than simply choosing a new location, the courses must be measured and certified. And more. This could easily mean no sailing competition at all for the 2016 Olympics, an asterisk in the historic records to forever remind Rio that most problems do not solve themselves.

But, hey! Carnaval is almost here and that means there will be no problems! And, no meeting to present plans to avoid a severe water crisis until the end of February. (That being the meeting to discuss plans for using water from the Paraiba do Sul.)

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