Seen at the airport in Rio today: First responders welcome toutists. A sign of what's to come during the Olympics? pic.twitter.com/mCOYB3deuo— Michael Smith (@SmithMarkets) June 27, 2016
Brazil appears to be going through a bit of a rough patch ahead of the summer Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Along with concerns about Zika virus and pollution, the country considered one of the most violent regions in the world is also battling a lethal surge in criminal activity. The situation has in fact gotten so much worse that gang-related incidents have killed 52 police officers so far this year, compared to 85 in the entirety of 2015.
On Monday, to protest their unbearable working conditions and late payment of salaries, some 300 cops took to the streets in Rio, holding banners and placards.
“The police's priority is the people, the government's priority is the Olympics,” read one sign.
Visitors arriving at the Rio airport were also greeted with a troublesome warning.
"Welcome to Hell,” read the banner held by local rescue workers and first responders. “Police and firefighters don't get paid. Whoever comes to Rio de Janeiro will not be safe."
On a roadway leading away from the airport, blue lettering on a bridge reads: “Welcome, we don’t have hospitals!”
Welcome, we don't have hospitals! - “Aviso” na estrada do Galeão. (Foto: Tiago Bla) pic.twitter.com/NfnrEukkuT— Cecília Olliveira (@Cecillia) June 26, 2016
The cops also expressed their anger over the lack of availability of basics, ranging from drinking water and ink to car fuel and toilet paper.
“At the stations we don't have paper or ink for the printers, there's no one to come in to clean and some stations don't have a water supply anymore so the toilets are not functioning,” said Andre, a member of an elite police unit for the upcoming Olympics.
Another officer anonymously told AFP the government had only paid half his salary last month and he was still waiting for this month's salary.
“I haven't been paid my overtime for five months either,” the 40-year-old officer added, while another declared, “We are in a meltdown.”
The city is set to host the Olympic Games in August, but even the governor fears “it could be a big failure.”
However, on a positive note, local law enforcement agencies are not the only ones to supervise the game, but a number of international agencies would also be deployed at the scene. So, even though the odds of spending summer in Rio don’t look as good and a number of high profile athletes have already dropped out of the gig, there is a possibility that the event won’t be an absolute disaster.