Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : June 14th 2016 Contents A48
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Tuesday, June 14, 2016
RIO DE JANEIRO---Just a year
ago, Rio de Janeiro Mayor
Eduardo Paes was hailed by
Olympic Committee executives
as the driving force behind the
Summer Games that are set to
kick off in August in samba city.
Overseeing billions of con-
struction dollars for glittering
athletic venues, Paes was so pop-
ular that he was often mentioned
as a potential presidential con-
But Paes once-bright star has
dimmed as he s been blamed for
mounting problems and asso-
ciated with a probe into corrup-
tion at the state oil company
The April collapse of a section
of a new bike lane, an Olympic
beautification project, plunged
two men to their deaths and
raised questions about how well
the venues have been built. Offi-
cials have failed to meet targets
for cleaning up Rio s notoriously
polluted waterways, including
some where Olympic events will
be held. And anger is growing
over the city s inability to provide
basic services amid a punishing
recession and massive public
spending on the games.
Paes acknowledges the last
year has been tough.
Paes, a lawyer who speaks flu-
ent English, entered politics in
the 1990s as an appointed bor-
ough administrator of Barra da
Tijuca, an area of Rio that
includes the Olympic Park. He
later became a city councilor and
then a representative in the lower
chamber of Congress before
winning a close race to become
Rio s mayor in 2008.
Paes was thrust into the inter-
national spotlight the following
year when the International
Olympic Committee awarded
the 2016 Games to Rio over
Chicago, Madrid and Tokyo.
The mayor basked in the
attention as venues went up in
recent years, framing the
Olympic preparations as a chance
to modernise one of the world s
most iconic cities. Two years ago
Rio was also in the spotlight
when it hosted World Cup
matches including the final, as
the world s other premier sport-
ing tournament also came to
But now city prosecutors and
council members say they are
scrutinizing Olympic contracts
for possible corruption as the
investigation continues into the
scheme at Petrobras.
There are also two other inves-
tigations directly involving the
mayor. Earlier this year Paes
name appeared on a leaked list
of payments made by Brazilian
construction giant Odebrecht,
one of the central companies
involved in the scandal. Paes
argues that they were legal cam-
paign donations, not bribes.
In the other probe, Brazil s
chief investigator is examining
whether Paes erased bank
records for an ally during his
time as a representative. The
mayor denies any wrongdoing.
Even headaches that clearly
are not of Paes making are find-
ing their way to City Hall. Amid
the worst recession to hit Brazil
since the 1930s, Rio de Janeiro
state is in such dire financial
straits that the city of the same
name had to take over admin-
istration of two of the state s
While Olympic projects have
created some jobs, Rio is still
struggling with 10 percent
unemployment. Many residents
like Feliciano Silveira, a 58-year-
old doorman, find it hard to con-
tain their anger over how the
city is being run these days.
"It used to take me about an
hour to go to work. Now it takes
almost two hours," said Silveira,
who voted for Paes twice and
regrets it today. "Paes changed
the bus system without much
care, he blocked the city center
with Olympic projects that never
seem to be ready and my kids
go to a municipal school that
often has no classes."
Clearing space for the Olympic
venues has also cost the mayor
politically. To build what will
become upper-class housing at
the Olympic Park, the city bull-
dozed the shantytown of Vila
Autodromo. Paes initially said
residents could stay if they want-
ed, but reversed course and
ordered evictions when many
decided to do so. Only about 30
of 700 families who once lived
in the area remain, and they face
being forced out by police in the
"Paes has become very linked
to the wealthy for demolishing
(those) homes," said Felipe Pena,
a communications professor at
Rio s Fluminense Federal Uni-
The Olympics will give Paes
one last chance to shine before
his term ends December 31, and
ahead of a possible run for state
governor in 2018.
The mayor has said he believes
residents will ultimately look
proudly on the civic facelift over
which he presided. Along with
the Olympic Park, there is a new
tram system, a revamped port
area and a new expressway run-
ning through the sprawling city,
among other improvements.
"The comparison that matters
is between Rio and Rio," Paes
said recently as he inaugurated
a new sanitation facility. "Rio
before the Olympics and Rio
before the Games begin in Rio
de Janeiro, athletes from around
the world are taking part in very
different kind of sporting tour-
nament in southern Greece.
Think of it as the no-frills
Olympics: No national teams.
No medals. No shoes.
Wearing only white tunics and
running barefoot, athletes com-
peted Saturday in the Sixth
Modern Nemean Games, a par-
tial revival of ancient Greek
games which draws enthusiastic
participants aged from 5 to 89.
The races, run in age cate-
gories, only include a 90-metre
sprint on a straight dirt course
at a 2,300-year-old stadium and
7.5-kilometre run through fabled
olive groves and vineyards in the
area, where in ancient Greek
mythology Hercules---god of
strength, sport and fertility---
slayed a fearsome lion.
Runners take an oath before
competing, and pass through an
ancient tunnel to reach the track.
A teenage boy, with a red cloak
and laurel branch crown on his
head, sounds a long horn before
Overnight rain delayed the
games for 90 minutes and
caused some runners to slip in
the mud during races.
Irish runner Andrew Fortune
stayed on his feet to win the
print in his age group. A white
ribbon was tied behind his head
and his feet were cooled in a
Instead of a starting gun, track
officials used a mechanism
copied from antiquity: a wood-
and-rope starting gate that drops
to the ground when the race
begins. Runners pick numbered
blocks of marble out of a metal
drum at random to be assigned
The Nemean Games were
revived by an American archae-
ologist who first came to Nemea
in southern Greece in 1973.
Stephen G. Miller, professor
emeritus of classical archaeology
at the University of California,
Berkeley, led the excavation when
the ancient site still lay buried
beneath a highway and vineyards
used by raisin farmers.
Near the southern city of
Corinth, Nemea is steeped in
ancient history. The 2,300-year-
old Temple of Zeus stands next
to the track and a museum built
at the site.
Miller and his team unearthed
the temple and stadium, one of
the four major sites where
Ancient Greek games were held:
Olympia, Delphi, Isthmia and
The 74-year-old has led the
games at Nemea since 1996, a
lower-key, more egalitarian affair
than the Olympics, in which ath-
letes engage in the no-prize
competition with a relatively
small but dedicated following.
The games attract a mix of
Greek and overseas travelers and
tourists, history lovers, fitness
enthusiasts and school trips. The
tunics, held tight with a piece
of rope, could be mistaken for
hospital gowns and are color-
coded: White for athletes, black
for track officials, and yellow,
green or light blue for other
Miller, in yellow, manned the
entrance, checking the names of
athletes as they entered the
Giving an ancient site a little
modern significance, he says,
encourages people to learn.
Last Friday, mayor
Keron Valentine kicked
off the city of Port of
Spain s 102nd anniver-
sary celebrations. Thou-
sands turned out for the
Fashion and Mas Rock
the City event, the brain-
child of designer Anya
The parade included
old time carnival charac-
ters, blue devils, pan
music and mas costumes.
The parade proceeded
east along Ariapita Avenue to Adam Smith Square
where the fashion show took place.
It was a celebration that combined fashion, music
and mas---a reflection of who we are!
The mayor and councillors of the Port of Spain City
corporation have included the June 23 Olympic Day
celebration as part of the month long celebrations.
In this an Olympic year by virtue of the T&T Olympic
Committee Headquarters (Olympic House) location
on Abrecromby Street, Port of Spain, opposite Lord
Harris Square, it would not be stretching the truth to
proclaim Port of Spain the Olympic capital of T&T.
With the TTOC itself celebrating 70 years and the
40th anniversary of Hasely Crawford s historic acheive-
ment of winning the 1976 Montreal Olympics 100
metres final to become the first ever son of the soil
to become an Olympic champion, it is great that
Olympic Day will form an official part of the cele-
The success of Fashion and Mas Rock the City event
is a timely reminder of the potential and power of our
culture, music, entertainment and creative sectors.
Add food and sport and you have a compelling value
The packaging of all the components constitute
At every Olympic Games in recent history, the ques-
tion has always been asked if a brand T&T promotional
package incorporating all the distinctly Trinbagonian
elements will be showcased during the Olympic Games.
The answer is no.
Staging such an initiative requires the involvement
of tourism, trade and Investment, foreign affairs,
culture along with sport.
Moving from discussion and talk to implementable
action is a challenge.
One can t help but feel frustrated at the failure to
embrace and capitalise on what seems obvious.
Changing an entrenched culture is no mean feat.
There is much potential and opportunity to drive eco-
nomic growth and diversification if we can only see
the big picture.
But we have to be true to ourselves as a people and
What is it to be a Trinbagonian? What do we as
the collective Trinidad and Tobago stand for? What
is brand Trinidad and Tobago?
What s our why?
Are we grounded in Trinidad and Tobago ? Or have
we lost our sense of who we are and what it means
to be Trinidad and Tobago in our expression of self
and how we project ourselves to the world
There is so much that we can build on. Our talent
and potential is unlimited. We need to go back to the
basics and build and strengthen the necessary foun-
It will require hard work and discipline but most
of all a sense of purpose. These days with the doom
and gloom proving invasive, staying positive and
focused is much more of a challenge.
The temptation to fall back into the crowd is com-
pelling in an environment where excellence is only a
Brian Lewis is president of the T&TOC. The views
expressed here are not necessarily those of the
T&T potential and
THINGS THAT MATTER
Runners re-enact ancient games ahead of Rio
Paes---Rio's falling star
In this March 1, 2015, file photo, Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Eduardo
Paes embraces Brazil's now suspended President Dilma Rousseff
during the inauguration of the Rio 450, a tunnel for vehicles in the
port area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. AP PHOTO
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