Is Brazil safe for the final game of the World Cup? I think so, and I am sure that if you have been watching Globo and Record, the two main networks in Brazil, you feel the same way.
No matter what network you have been watching, I am sure you also know that the national team was massacred by Germany this week in the first semifinal game, 7-1. This score in soccer is like a 49-7 loss in the NFL, which is unbelievable to a country where the president was counting on winning the World Cup and using the victory to calm the people who are going through an economic crisis, especially when the country just spent billions of dollars on stadiums in many cities that will have little to no use after the games end.
This week, over 20 buses were set on fire in the largest city of São Paulo. Police had to tear gas fans in other cities, and several robberies of factories and places of business were committed, but the television only reported on these incidents for a few seconds. Imagine the same events occurring after the Super Bowl and CNN featuring football stories instead of covering the riots and violence unfolding? Well, that's what I watched here on TV after Brazil lost.
I have been living here covering the World Cup for Univision for over a month, and after hearing so many accounts of crime, instability and security risk in Brazil before I left Miami, I can tell you that at least Rio has been extremely safe.
How is this possible? Thankfully, hundreds if not thousands of national police and military personnel are protecting the major tourist areas of neighborhoods like Ipanema, Copacabana and Leblon.
One afternoon, the Associated Press shut down its oceanfront set on the Avenida Atlantica, which is the main street in Copacabana that faces the beautiful ocean, because it expected a
major demonstration near a FIFA Fan Fest, where thousands of people gather to watch their
teams play on huge TV screens set in the sand next to the ocean. The protest never actually
materialized as over 2,000 police and army personnel came out of nowhere a couple of hours
before the game.
Yes, come to Rio for the final game this Sunday. Here you will find one of the most beautiful cities in the world with 24 unrivaled beaches, great restaurants and fantastic services.
Just don't come looking for Samsung electronics, because while all the policeman were protecting us, there was a $40 million (yes, dollars, not reales) robbery at a factory here in Brazil.
Enjoy the World Cup.