“The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil affirms that Brazil is prepared to organize and host major international events, with democracy and social participation,” said Gilberto Carvalho, Chief Minister of the General Secretariat of the Presidency, during a press conference today at the João Saldanha Open Media Centre in Rio de Janeiro.
“We are here to celebrate what has happened so far,” said Carvalho, adding that there have been no major security issues. “On the one hand, our people knew how to rise to the occasion, overcoming a barrier that had formed in the country at one point, when it seemed that the World Cup would be a tragedy. And on the other, our nation showed its uncanny ability to receive people, to be good hosts.”
When speaking about the major demonstrations that took place in Brazil in June of last year - and which did not reoccur during the World Cup - Carvalho noted that Brazilians demanded better public services and criticized corruption, but also called for more democracy, which is why the government paid special attention to establishing dialogue with society. The General Secretariat of the Presidency held a series of meetings in all 12 World Cup host cities called Government-Civil Society Dialogues: 2014 World Cup to listen to citizens’ concerns – many of which were not directly related to the World Cup – and to provide answers. These meetings were attended by 3,101 individuals representing 808 institutions.
The Minister also noted that while Brazil's National Bank for Economic and Social Development (BNDES) financed R$ 4 billion and the host cities and states invested another R$ 4 billion in the construction and renovation of stadiums between 2010 and 2014, healthcare and education investments over the same period totaled more than R$ 800 billion. “It was not logical to say that the World Cup was being organized at the expense of healthcare and education: Over the same timeframe, 100 times more resources were invested in these two areas than were spent on the World Cup,” said Carvalho. He considered the World Cup an opportunity that will continue to benefit Brazilians, and mentioned as an example the R$ 17.5 billion infrastructure investments made in preparation for the event.
For Carvalho, Brazil’s increased international exposure and growth in tourism are positive outcomes of hosting the World Cup. He added that Brazil’s decision to host the World Cup demonstrated the ambition to show the world the country’s development model focused on income distribution, which reflects a culture of peace and an economic policy that has allowed the country – and the incomes of its workers – to grow steadily. This democracy has allowed Brazil to evolve and created opportunities for effective participation by society. “We did not lose our sovereignty or our independence to FIFA at any time.”
The Minister also disclosed official figures from the federal government which show that fewer than 11,000 families – or about 35,000 people – were displaced from their homes in the 12 host cities of the World Cup because of construction projects connected to the event. All of the families have received assistance to relocate, he said.
This figure has remained well below the projections over the past two years by the Popular Committees for the World Cup, which estimated that 250,000 individuals would be displaced. According to Carvalho, the vast majority of the 35,000 people affected – including the more than 24,000 low-income individuals – have been either financially compensated or given a new home.
The Minister stated that these individuals have benefited mainly from housing programs carried out by the federal government in partnership with state and local governments, and they are now in better living conditions than they were before the World Cup.
The Minister referred to major events that Brazil has recently hosted, and highlighted the participation of diverse stakeholders. The first such event was Rio+20 in June 2012, the largest event in United Nations history, with 45,400 people accredited from 193 countries and a conference website accessed by over 50 million people interested in the environmental debate. The Brazilian government also held two additional events in parallel to the conference: the Sustainable Development Dialogues and the People’s Summit.
The Minister also mentioned as examples such as World Youth Day, attended by Pope Francis, which brought 3.7 million young men and women to Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, and NETmundial – the Global Multi-Stakeholder Meeting on the Future of Internet Governance – held in São Paulo and attended by 1,229 participants in person and online from 97 countries, as well as major cultural events such as Carnival and the Rock in Rio music festival.