Brazil reaffirms trust in Olympics security plans
Rio de Janeiro, June 30 (IANS) Brazil is doing all it can to ensure the security of the athletes, authorities and tourists expected to attend the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, said Brazil's Special Secretary for Ministry of Justice's Security for Major Events, Andrei Rodrigue.
In an interview with the foreign media held at the Rio Olympic Committee's headquarters on Wednesday, Rodrigues briefed the security scheme in a wake of the terrorist attack on Istanbul airport on Tuesday which already left 41 dead, reports Xinhua.
"We are absolutely confident and calm in relation to preparing for the Games. We are doing all that a country can," Rodrigues said.
The special secretary, who is responsible for coordinating the security apparatus at the Games, said that, in preparation, tests were already carried out during 45 test events in 2015 and the first quarter of 2016. The strategic plan also allows for the Olympic torch's journey currently around the South American country, according to Rodrigues.
When asked if the Istanbul airport bombing would cause a change in the scheduled plan, Rodrigues said that "this new barbarism has caused us to increase our attention but, Brazil has already adopted the best international security policies for large events."
The secretary explained that Brazil's government has developed a series of international cooperation actions which apart from police exchanges within an observer program for major international events also includes the International Police Cooperation Centre (CCPI), set up for when Brazil hosted the Confederation Cup football tournament in 2013.
According to Rodrigues, during the Olympics, the CCPI will operate with around 250 police from 55 countries and regions as well as members of Interpol, Ameripol and Europol and the service will be up and running 24 hours a day between August 1 and September 19 -- when the Paralympic Games finish -- with two command and control centers -- one in Rio and the other in Brasilia.
"It will be the largest international police operation in Brazil's history and for Interpol," he said.
Also, the Integrated Anti-Terrorism Center, a first in Olympic history, will become fully operational on July 31 and will be based in Brasilia. Working with them will be police from intelligence services in Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, France, Paraguay, Spain and the United States with the aim of analyzing and crosschecking data surrounding potential threats.
As an example of the work carried out until now, Rodrigues said measures for controlling people have been implemented for months and they have rejected 7,262 applications for accreditation to Rio's Organizing Committee. This figure represents 1.84 percent of the total applications received by the organizers.
Rodrigues added that this process of verifying criminal records has allowed the authorities to arrest two Brazilian citizens that claimed to work in companies subcontracted for the event.
When questioned about how Brazil's current political and economic crisis could affect security during the Games, Rodrigues assured that these things would have "no influence."
"The political changes have not altered the planning, that was drawn up by experts, in any way," said Rodrigues in reference to President Dilma Rousseff being temporarily suspended from duties and replaced by vice-president Michel Temer on May 12. Temer will remain as interim president until the impeachment process against Rousseff is concluded when the Senate vote on the issue.
There is fear that the vote could have been held during the Olympics. Such an event could provoke widespread protests throughout the South American country, depending on the results. However, on Wednesday, the Federal Supreme Court informed that the voting will take place at the end of August, after the Games.
Upon being asked about the crime increase in recent months, Rodrigues admitted there is a "crisis in public security" in the state of Rio de Janeiro which is linked to "a financial problem" which has reduced the number of police in the streets.
In a demonstration of unhappiness among police for payment delays, a group of them protested in the Tom Jobim international airport with a poster that read "Welcome to Hell." This is one of the main airports where foreign visitors will enter the country to attend the Olympics.
However, apart from confirming that there will be 85,000 members of enforcement agencies in the city during the Games, Rodrigues denied there had been budget cuts by the Federal Government. He also confirmed that the government will release special funds this week amounting to 2.9 billion reais (around $850 million) in order to pay the troops.