New Years in Rio: Yes those are people
Rio de Janeiro has 60,000 unsolved murders from the past 10 years. This for North Americans and Europeans is SHOCKING! That's why I wasn't surprised by this article saying that we need some CSI down here. Fair enough.
What did annoy me was this little comment:
"Why is this a big deal? Other than the fact it’s more than slightly disturbing that tens of thousands are being killed by the drug cartels that control the impoverished city, Rio is set to host the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016...They’re going to need an army to handle millions of unsuspecting drunk tourists there to enjoy the events"
My initial reaction was that the writer had never heard of Carnival before. But, thankfully, he did mention that we successfully hold the massive party each year. Of course he had to mention:
"However this year 129 people were killed in over 2,000 car accidents in the first three days of the weeklong party. And that’s an event that happens every year. Now imagine the insanity of having the World Cup in Brazil"
Now as someone who actually lives here, let me explain a few little things. First off, Brazil has the highest rate of car accident deaths in the Americas. Car accidents claim over 35,000 lives a year in this country. Many roads suck and the drivers on them suck more. Not to mention that most cars are not kept up to the care that they should be and people don't wear seat belts. Don't like this fact, don't drive or take a cab. We do have an excellent metro system for the gringo safe areas.
As for the safety, unless Athletes decide to change careers and start smuggling drugs and/or living near the dealers, they will be fine. If tourists do not attempt to screw with the government or make enemies with the police, they will be fine. And if someone decides to go try to score some coke or party where they think "locals" party, it's at your own risk.
Rio de Janeiro as a city is quite separated by socio-economic class. Even the neighborhoods within zones are divided. It is highly unlikely that something will happen to the tourists or athletes. While disorganized, there is nothing Cariocas like more than a good sporting event or a party.
Just go to New Years on Copacabana beach with the other 3 million people and see how peaceful it is. Well, not peaceful but not violent. My first and lasting impression of New Years in Copacabana was that if it were in the US there'd be drunken fights, police beatings, and someone would have gotten shot. Here people know how to be in close quarters with a gazillion other people without getting offended that someone accidently gave them a flat-tire. I'm actually concerned with the unwanted fights drunken Gringos will cause.
Besides all this, the politics behind murder in Rio de Janeiro is something no foreigner can truly understand without a long period of time living here. This is such a uniquely crazy ass place that you can't even begin to get it. That being said, I do not walk the streets thinking I'm going to get murdered. It just doesn't go down like that, at least not in my neighborhood.
And FYI, it may be the cops/government/corruption and not the drug cartels controlling the city and killing the people. For many down here, the jury is still out on that one.