In 2009, when the International Olympic Committee had chosen Rio De Janeiro to host 2016 Summer Olympics, this history-making decision reverberated beyond the confines of Brazil. Indeed, since Rio became the first South American city to ever host the Olympics, the event proved to be significant for the continent as a whole. With the commencement of the world’s greatest sporting spectacle, Rio has effectively stepped into global spotlight and exposed some of its most urgent problems related to poverty.
As the world eagerly follows the Olympic festivities, Brazil grapples with its greatest recession since the 1930s. The lagging economy is further exacerbated by ongoing political scandals that revolve around President Dilma Rousseff alleged corruption and misuse of federal funds. In the midst of economic crisis and political uncertainly, a great number of ordinary Brazilians have little motivation to partake in the Olympic craze. Currently, the unemployment rate is close to 11% while the wages are plunging and exacerbating already high levels of poverty. It is no wonder that, faced with widespread economic destitution, Brazilians are witnessing the rise in violent crime and demonstrations that disrupt the celebratory mood of the Olympic games.
Much has been said about the fact that most Brazilians cannot afford to purchase tickets to the sporting events hosted in their native country. While locals had staked their hopes on the potential of the Olympics to turn Rio into a flourishing center of commerce and tourism, many of them bemoan the fact that recent infrastructure developments have been restricted to affluent areas such as Barra da Tijuca. Even more troubling is the fact that infrastructure revitalization often comes at the price of bulldozed buildings and evicted tenants who find themselves uprooted and incapable of standing up for their rights.
A great deal of criticism has been directed at the Brazilian government’s willingness to build expensive Olympic venues during the times of austerity. In the past, former Olympic sites in Athens and Beijing have been abandoned and vandalized, with valuable resources gone to waste. In lieu of this, critics have good reasons to wonder if similar fate awaits infrastructure developments in Rio and whether the money spent to fund these project would have been better spent on alleviating hunger and homelessness. The good news is that Rio’s Olympic structures are designed to be removed and repurposed. In fact, local authorities have made a commitment to reuse these materials to create four new primary schools. In addition, parts of Olympics Aquatics Stadium will be repurposed to build two community swimming centers.
Like most Olympic fans around the world, we at No More Poverty are excited to witness amazing athletic achievements; however, we also strive to spread awareness about the plight of poor Brazilians. It is our hope that the Brazilian government will make good on its promise to revitalize local school facilities in the wake of the Olympic festivities, but we also hope to see more concerted humanitarian efforts to deliver aid to uprooted local population in the near future.
No More Poverty is part of a global network of charities established by philanthropist Julian Omidi and his brother Dr. Michael Omidi, a double board-certified plastic and reconstructive surgeon renowned for his expertise in minimally-invasive procedures. Also comprising Children’s Obesity Fund, Animal Support, and Civic Duty, our charities seek to address wide-ranging and pressing concerns such as childhood obesity epidemic, animal abuse, civic engagement, global hunger and poverty.
In this day and age of global humanitarian crises and massive human rights violations, it is often easy to overlook widespread abuse, mistreatment, and neglect of animals. At Animal Support charity, we strive to highlight the fact that animals are the most vulnerable living beings among us and shed light on instances of animal cruelty that are too often under-reported and unrecognized in our society.
In particular, we advocate for progressive changes in anti-cruelty laws and federal tracking of animal abuse cases. Indeed, such laws already exist to prohibit unnecessary torture, mistreatment, neglect, and killing on animals. However, as a quick survey of recent news demonstrates, these laws are far from being consistently enforced across the different states. For instance, according to a report published in The Des Moines Register [link 1] earlier this year, the state of Iowa does not punish abusers and killers of animals with fair sentences proportionate to their abhorrent crimes. The report details one particularly shocking incident in which a perpetrator repeatedly kicked his dog and slammed its had into a pole. Although his crimes were recorded on video, this man was charged with only a simple misdemeanor and fined a measly $100. Other cases enumerated in the report demonstrate that violent crimes against animals are treated as minor infractions in Iowa. Instead of punishing animal violence with jail sentences, the courts of Iowa tend to issue small fines that frequently amount to less than a speeding ticket.
While law-makers in some states choose to turn a blind eye to the rampant animal abuse, others take instances of animal cruelty into account to devise progressive legislative efforts. In Pennsylvania, as in Iowa, severe animal abuse is not considered a felony. Thus, a number of news reports have publicized the story of Libre, a Boston terrier puppy who was found sick and extremely emaciated due to neglect on the part of a dog breeder. Following the investigation, the breeder was not presented with any charges. In response, a local lawmaker, Sen. Richard Alloway (R-Franklin/Adams/Cumberland/York), has made it his mission to change the state’s lax laws and introduce a new legislation known as Libre’s Law. First and foremost, the new law seeks to provide a more precise definition of animal neglect and punish it with stricter sentences. We can only hope that this new legislative effort sets a positive precedent and sends a message to those states who continue to ignore the aggravated nature of animal abuse, treating it as a harmless infraction as opposed to a violent crime.