Calamity Janeiro

7 months ago Comments Off on Calamity Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO does not look like a disaster zone. Beaches are emptier than normal, but that’s because temperatures have dropped to a frigid 23°C. The streets are bustling. Yet on June 17th the acting governor of Rio de Janeiro state, Francisco Dornelles, decreed a “public calamity”. It will, he warned, affect the state’s ability to support the Olympic games, which are to take place in its capital city in August.

The calamity is financial, not natural. Brazil’s recession has caused tax receipts to plummet. Falling oil prices have pulled down royalties, which provided more than a tenth of Rio’s revenues. The budget deficit this year is expected to exceed 19 billion reais ($ 5.6 billion), a third of revenue.

Luckily for sports fans, the games are mainly the responsibility of the city, which is in better fiscal health. The arenas are nearly ready. But the state is in charge of policing and of the metro line linking the Olympic village to the city centre, which is unfinished. Tourists worried about the mosquito-borne Zika virus, which causes birth defects, have another reason to fret.

The state compounded its woes by…Continue reading