I arrived at Galeão International Airport in Rio de Janeiro early July 21. Passing through immigration was seamless, and the overwhelming number of Rio 2016 Olympic Games volunteers scattered throughout the airport was notable.
As I picked up my bags, got my passport stamped, and escaped from Duty Free shopping, I exited to find that protesters against the Olympics and the government have wasted no time. This Thursday morning, it was the metro workers time to protest, and they held various banners calling on the government - in English and Portuguese - to improve working conditions, safety, and project management.
Metro workers without an agreement. Olympic family without metro service. Metro Workers Union of Rio de Janeiro.
I stopped to ask if I could take a picture of the banners and workers; in addition to eager responses of Yes! and Share it on Facebook!, I also received an open letter to the public the group had written in English and Portuguese. Ill quote what I think sums up feelings from numerous workers groups about the Olympic Games:
We apologize to you for the quality of service and stations of the metro lines; we apologize for the service not reaching the treatment that you deserve and expect. The metro extension construction suffered setbacks and fraud, and the necessary security tests have been dramatically reduced. Thus, passenger security on the metro could be at risk according to authorities and specialists.
After I passed this group, I came upon a group of Rio 2016 Olympic volunteers. I asked them, Where are the Civil Police that have been striking here? The response: Oh they arrive a little later. On a daily basis, different workers groups are using Galeão International Airport as their perfect international platform for spreading the word of inflated public works contracts, corruption, faulty construction, poor management, and lack of thorough safety checks.
The metro extension (Line 4) will connect South Zones Ipanema with Lebln and, most importantly, Barra da Tijuca where the Olympic Park is located. Rio officials have stated that the line will open by Aug. 1, just four days before the Games begin. Several questions remain: will the stations actually be finished? And, if they are open, how safe will the transportation be?
For more on the security situation in Rio de Janeiro, tap here to register and join me for a live Olympics preparedness webinar on July 28. Health Intelligence Manager, Gabby Molinolo, and our partner AXA Assistance will join me to bring you a comprehensive look at pertinent travel, security and health concerns as we quickly approach the Games in Rio.
Americas Intelligence Analyst, Abbott Matthews is on the ground in Brazil to cover the Rio 2016 Olympic Games throughout August. Stay tuned for related alerts and Olympic Briefs in the Daily Intelligence Briefing beginning Aug. 5.