Now, imagine you’re in Rio.
We take many things for granted, living in places where institutions are well established.
Now, Rio de Janeiro, is a city with high levels of crime that puts lots and lots of efforts into protecting tourists that come to visit while ignoring its own population. The tourist areas such as Ipanema and Leblon are swarming police forces of any kind (local, federal, state or whatnot) these days. And so, every year, just before carnaval, the local police threatens to go on strike, completely holding the city hostage in terms of answering their demands. One can imagine how this is a nightmare scenario for this tourist heaven. From what I gather, previous years, this was just a threat. This year it became a reality.
Today Rio police is supposedly on strike and people are sort of freaking out. When I say people, I actually mean interested parties, i.e. the media and politicians. The situation has been quite calm but there are forces such as the one I mentioned above that create mass paranoia. Throughout the day everyone was walking paranoid around the city center. Afternoon, we received an e-mail from the company asking everyone to leave the office by 6pm. My boss even called me at my desk to ask me to leave and stay at home. I told him not worry and that I will just go hang out at a pacified favela since they have the special police –BOPE, and they won’t be on strike for sure. He didn’t get the joke. Oh well, he probably attributes it to me being a gringa (ergo, gringos have weird jokes).
Anyways, since all the companies in the city center released their employees early, trying to get home was a big pain.. the amount of people crowding the metro station and platform was like London in Bank station or Line 4-5 Grand Central station in Manhattan during rush hour. Horrendous. When I got out, it just started raining and people were all rushing to go home with terrified looks on their place. I could totally imagine this as a beginning of some silly action/natural disaster movie, and one of those Silvester Stallone, Mel Gibson, Bruce Willis types running around with a walkie-talkie, trying to figure out how to save the world from a doomsday scenario.
There is no point going out anywhere because everyone will stay paranoid at home watching the news, and all the places will be completely empty and so I guess I will stay put as well. Tomorrow they will probably announce the end of the strike because there are many carnaval events that are happening (blocos) that are way too important for everyone to be worried about silly police issues. The carioca will resume drinking beer, dancing samba and going to the beach. Such is the life of the carioca.