RIO DE JANIERO, Brazil (CNN) – We’re now just a year away from the start of the summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and Amnesty International is accusing the city’s military police of brutality.
The Human Rights Organization says they are responsible for 16 percent of the city’s homicides over the past five years.
Just a year to go before the 2016 games kick off, Rio de Janeiro is focusing on Olympic venues.
Rio Mayor Eduardo Paes looking relaxed says, “We’ve still got a long way to go, a lot to do, it’s a big event, it’s transforming completely the city, but I’m pretty optimistic things are going to go fine”
However, city and state officials are also rushing to stamp out controversies. The latest, a damning report from amnesty international accusing Rio’s police of excessive violence. It says more than 5,000 people have been killed at the hands of police in the city over almost a decade, the vast majority of them young and black.
The Rio state security chief called the report reckless and unfair, saying homicides have declined since police and soldiers were sent into some of the most dangerous favelas to seize control from drug gangs.
A lot of the favelas down here near the beaches, like Vidigal, have been made a lot safer. However, others far from the tourist destinations where all the Olympic Games will be played out are still veritable ‘war zones.’
Rio says it will have 85,000 security personnel on hand for the games.
“We’ll have the biggest integrated security operation in the history of the country,” said Andrei Rodrigues, SESGE Justice Ministry.
Another issue is raw sewage. Olympic sailors and rowers will have to glide through waters clogged with it but officials insist athletes face no risks to their health.
For the Mayor, it’s a problem, but not because of the Olympics.
“The Olympics for us always meant a chance for us to change our city to make it more integrated, to make it better…in the case of sewage treatment we’re doing less than we said, so we’ve still got a challenge there,” said Mayor Paes.
As for venues, they’re back on track. The Olympic park, coming together, so is Deodoro extreme sport park, which will host bmx, mountain biking, and rugby and for a long time, alarmingly behind schedule. Transportation around the perpetually clogged streets of this city of 6.5 million people. High speed bus lines are being built, and new metro lines added – they’re slated to be operational by august 2016
“Already the city is on fire and I think it is going to be amazing,” said a local resident
“We have this culture of not planning ahead. But in the end everything comes together,” said another local resident.
For now, it’s a game of keeping the balls in the air as the one-year countdown starts.
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