Brazil fears terrorism at 2014 World Cup

2013-04-28 14:00

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Stadiums are still a big question mark for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil: even if they are ready, will they be comfortable enough?

Transport infrastructure is worse: airports are messy, subway lines are no more than fading promises, and parking space will almost certainly be a nightmare. So the last thing the local organising committee needed was another problem: terrorism.

Brazil as a nation is proud to be terrorism-free, even though criminal violence is common in many of its large cities.

But in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, can mass murder and political violence really be taken for granted?

Not in the opinion of authorities.

As soon as the explosions in Boston took place, the Federal Police, responsible for handling security at big events, went into high-alert mode, and intensified information exchanges with the US’ Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The Brazilian government promised action.

Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota promised “all necessary measures” to guarantee the safety of fans, domestic or foreign.

“Obviously such an act (the bombings) cannot fail to raise our concern,” Patriota said the day after the Boston attack.

An integrated control centre, working 24 hours a day as a sort of “situation room”, is being established.

Abin, the Brazilian equivalent of the US’ Central Intelligence Agency, is tasked with coordinating intelligence operations at national, state and municipal levels, besides acting at staff training, risk evaluation and information security.

Brazil is to host at least four major events in the next three years: in June, the Fifa Confederations Cup, which is the warm-upto the World Cup; in July, two million people are expected to greet Pope Francis in the World Youth Journey, a huge catholic event; and, of course, the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Officially, the organisers of the three major events say security has always been a priority throughout the planning and organising processes, and that the impact of the Boston attacks is more psychological than practical. It may be true, but signs of concern are abundant.

With just more than a year to the start of the World Cup, there is time to improve. But, increasingly, Brazilians are finding it more difficult to count on the image of a courteous nation with friendly people for protection.

When approached this week, the media office at the local organising committee said they couldn’t answer all the questions except to give assurance that everything will be in place for all the planned events.

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