Fourteen games into the World Cup Finals and no serious incidents.
The big story yesterday was the weather, particularly the heavy rain in Natal that saw a month’s rain in the previous 48hrs causing flash flooding and landslides. Further heavy rains are forecast for many of the host cities in the coming week so don’t get caught out.
There haven’t been any serious security incidents concerning fans reported since the Finals got underway. There were several protests reported and the response by the police remains heavy handed. The escalation of force from verbal warnings, to tear gas, to non-lethal firearms can be rapid and dramatic. We strongly recommend avoiding these situations and leaving at the first sign of trouble.
Today’s games are in Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, and Cuiaba. Brazil vs Mexico will be a lively match. There’s no trouble anticipated anywhere but there is some heavy weather anticipated in Fortaleza and Cuiaba to be ready to get wet.
There have been several reports of security incidents over the past 24 hours. Most notably was the attempted mugging of BBC staff near their hotel in Rio. There was no one injured and the people in question got away ‘un-mugged’ however, the BBC has put out an alert for staff. There was the difficulty getting into the stadium for the kick off of the Switzerland v Ecuador match in Brasilia due to long cues to get through security. FIFA had, in fact, warned fans weeks beforehand to ensure that they arrive with plenty of time to get through the checks. It is also important to note that to achieve the security cordon around some of the stadia, some may have to walk up to 5km to the stadium. Queues to get into games are likely to get worse after FIFA security were embarrassed on Friday by Chilean fans letting off fireworks after there victory over Australia in Cuiaba.
Several protests have been reported in host cities throughout the country but with little interference with the fans. In Rio, protestors outside the World Cup village on Copacabana through rocks at the broadcasters and fan zone but did not have large effect. Remember to stay away from protests as they are a magnet for crime and unsavoury characters. There is a stark difference between a political activist and someone willing to throw a brick at a policeman’s head. Here is a clip of the police reaction to a protest approaching the Maracanã stadium last night during the Bosnia v Argentina game: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XCCGI18oz9o#t=78
A few good tips for going to games: take a photo of your tickets so if they get stolen, the stadium police can arrest the thieves and get you your seat, the other is to download maps onto your mobile before leaving the hotel so you can follow the cab driver’s route to make sure you don’t get ripped off. Like in many places, cabbies might not know where they’re headed and won’t admit it to you so you can volunteer the directions before setting off. Always carry a little bit of money with you just in case you do get mugged, criminals have a habit of reacting harshly to not getting anything; literally killing for nothing.
Today’s games are in Salvador, Natal, and Curitiba. The only new location is Curitiba, which is the most advanced and efficient city in Brazil. Good transport links and large, pedestrianized town centre make it a joy to visit.
Curitiba is the capital and largest city of the Brazilian state of Paraná. The city’s population numbered approximately 1,760,500 people in 2010, making it the 8th most populous city in Brazil and the largest in the country’s South Region.
While Curitiba has been known, for many years, as a safe city, crime rates have been on the rise in recent years.
Crime involving tourists is generally non-violent and related to thefts and pickpocketing. While neighborhoods throughout the city are generally safe, you are advised to be cautious especially in the area near the Main Bus Terminal; Downtown squares, while safe during the day, during the night these areas are known to be hideaways for drug dealers and robbers; the Historical Center; and the neighborhoods of Batel, Rebouca and Prado Velho.
The neighborhoods located on the south side of the city, including Sitio Cercado, Fazendinha, Pinheirho, Cidade Industrial, Tatuquara, are the poorest areas and should therefore be avoided as the crime rates in these areas are particularly high.
Tourists to the city are advised to remain cautious when crossing streets throughout Curitiba. This is due to the fact that crossing signals do not always work, and often require maintenance. Drivers in the city are also known not to respect pedestrians.
At night, you are advised to take a taxi when travelling in the city.
Afonso Pena International Airport is Curitiba’s main airport and is located in the nearby city of São José dos Pinhais. All commercial flights operate from this airport.
Bacacheir Airport is a smaller general aviation facility.
Curitiba’s public transportation consists entirely of buses. It is known as the bus rapid transit (BRT) system, Rede Inegrada de Transporte.
Moving around by car can be difficult in and around the city center. This is due to the many one-way streets and frequent traffic. The Trinary Road System allows quick access to the city center for drivers.
Natal is the capital and largest city of Rio Grande do Norte, a northeastern state in Brazil.
While the city of Natal was once safe, recent statistics have indicated that crime is on the rise, however it Natal is safer than other touristic cities in the northeast of Brazil, including Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador.
While pickpocketing is common, violent assaults in the city are rare.
If visiting the Forte dos Reis Magos, MS Risk recommends that you travel by taxi and avoid walking along the Praia Forte. This is due to a recent surge in assaults and robberies that have targeted tourists along the beach. Ponta Negra beach is also not secure, with armed assaults on the beach occurring at any time, including day and night.
MS Risk advises all travellers to the beach to avoid taking any valuable articles with you.
Augusto Severo International Airport in Parnamirim is located 18 kilometers (9 miles) from Natal.
Federal Highway BR-101 is the most important access to Natal, coming from the south of Brazil through the boundary with the municipality of Parnamirim. If travelling from the State of Ceará, the principle access is by the Federal Highway BR-304, through the boundary with the municipality of Macaíba, where you pick up BR-226.
When leaving Natal, an important access to the southern Potiguar coast is the RN-063, which is also known as the “Sun Route” (Rota do Sol). This route takes you to the beaches of Pirangi, Búzios, Tabatinga, and up to the municipality of Nísia Floresta. The North Shore is accessible from the Newton Navarro Bridge, following the Praia do Forte to Genipabu, and the Igapó Bridge, following the district of Igapó by BR-101 to Touros, and by BR-406 to Macau.
Natal is connected to all the 167 municipalities of Rio Grande do Norte, along with dozens of locations and Potiguar districts, through the Passenger Bus Terminal of Natal, which is located in the Eastern zone of the city.
Taxis in Rio de Janeiro are white and have red plates. Fares are the same, regardless of how new and comfortable the car is. Fares are regulated by the government.
Salvador is the largest city on the northeastern coast of Brazil and is the capital of the Northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia.
While Salvador is fairly safe, MS Risk advises all travellers to remain vigilant at all times. Always avoid deserted streets, especially after dark.
Deputado Luís Eduardo Magalhães International Airport is located 28 kilometers (17 miles) north of downtown Salvador.
The BR-101 and the BR-116 Federal highways cross Bahia from north to south, connecting Salvador to the rest of the country.
The bus station, or Rodoviária of Salvador, is located in Iguatemi district, with direct buses to larger cities in the country and to many destinations in the state of Bahia.
The big security event in the last 24hrs was a ‘bomb’ alert around the stadium in Manaus in the mid-morning. Initial reports indicate that a police dog alerted authorities to an unattended vehicle during a routine sweep of the area. After about two hours on site, the bomb squad concluded that the dog detected a residue of gunpowder.
Concerning spectator security, there was an alleged rape of an American Woman in Cuiaba on Friday that occurred at a local residence after the spectators returned there after late night celebrations. In the same city, several muggings were reported during the after-match celebrations, mostly involving tourists. There is no panacea for these events however, taking efforts to avoid threatening environments where you are isolated and without escape routes is always advised and keep some emergency cash and a list of phone numbers and/or address for your hotel separate from your wallet or bag.
There was report of English fans starting a fight mid afternoon in Manaus but every other countries fans seem to be well behaved, even where Colombians outnumber Greeks 10 to 1 in Belo Horizonte. A protest took place in Belo Horizonte before the match, a good distance away from the stadium where the police reacted with resolve to prevent the situation from getting beyond control. Expect these events to continue for the benefit of media consumption but they will be dealt with swiftly to prevent disruption to the tournament and spectators.
The surprise upset of Costa Rica over the tournaments first winners, Uruguay, was met with only celebration in Fortaleza. The most violence seen so far was when Pereira was dealt a red card for Uruguay in the 93rd minute.
Reporting indicates transport is working well throughout the country. Although there was a strike Natal on Friday where only 30% of the buses were running but organisers pulled it together to get spectators to the game using school buses. In other places, Sao Paulo, Manaus, and elsewhere, public transport appears up to the task although it remains difficult at times.
Today’s matches are in Porto Alegre, Brasilia, and Rio De Janeiro at the legendary Maracanã. Porto Alegre is one of the smaller host cities but has good infrastructure to get around, the town centre can appear a bit seedy and it has had an issue with crime so advice concerning situational awareness remains extant. Brasilia and Rio, the capital and the former capital respectively, are both more than capable of hosting world-class events and have the same problems seen in any big city. Big stadiums are rarely found in affluent neighbourhoods so take transport to and from the game and don’t hang around in the rough areas for a drink afterwards.
A full moon on Friday the 13th and the strangest thing to occur yesterday was a trouncing of the Spanish at the hands, or rather feet, of the Dutch.
As for security issues, there has been some concern raised over the security of stadiums where one reporter complained “…credentials were checked and his bag was scanned only one time before he entered the complex..”; this is similar to most sporting events and bags are only scanned once at international airports so I’m not quite sure what the concern is. Bags are being searched and tickets are being checked, this dramatically reduces the capacity of violence in the stadium. It is worth noting that Brazil does not have a population of ideologically motivated violent actors nor have they been recognised as a target for Islamic extremism so the likelihood of this event being targeted by terrorists is much lower than in London or Sochi during the Olympics.
Today’s matches are in Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza, Manaus, and Recife. All four cities make the UN top 50 most violent in the world with Manaus topping at number 11. The vast majority, like the crime in Mexico’s most dangerous cities as well as throughout Latin America, is due to large-scale organized crime. In fact, all of the cities are regarded as places to go by travel guides and backpackers.
The game likely to have problems, if any, is the England vs Italy match in Manaus. This is not due to nature of the city or security risk but rather the propensity for British football fans to drink too much and start trouble themselves. It is recommended to stay away from large groups of drunken men, regardless of affiliation, and not to drink too much altogether. Drunken people are targets for petty crime: mugging, express kidnapping, pickpocketing, etc.