What Happened in Brazil after Olympic Games

What Happened in Brazil after Olympic Games

Times Insider shares insights into how we work at The New York Times. In this article, we will learn from Simon Romero explains how his job as Brazil bureau chief has evolved to include all sorts of additional (and unlikely) roles since friends and colleagues from around the world descended on Rio de Janeiro for the Olympic Games.

“时报内情”(Times Insider)专栏为读者呈现《纽约时报》所发报道幕后的故事。西蒙·罗梅罗(Simon Romero)在这篇文章中讲述的是,自从世界各地的朋友和同事为奥运会纷纷现身里约之后,他作为巴西分社社长的工作如何逐渐演化,囊括了其他种种(出人意料的)职责。

Reaching the favelas at the heights of Complexo do Alemão is nothing less than breathtaking.

抵达阿莱茂住宅区(Complexo do Alemão)最高处的贫民区,绝对是一个激动人心的过程。

An awe-inspiring aerial tramway connects the densely populated hillsides, their maze of passageways a testament to resilience and ingenuity in the face of hardship. Brazil would be awash in more medals if an Olympic category existed for the young kite fighters practicing their sport at the precipice where the gondola car makes its last stop.


But I knew I had truly arrived in Alemão when I heard the spine-tingling sound of gunfire.


“It’s coming from down there,” said one of the boys, kite string in hand, pointing to the sprawling agglomeration of dwellings below. He couldn’t have been older than 10. He and his friends didn’t even flinch when the shots echoed around them, as if the sounds were as normal as the birdsong of Rio’s great kiskadees.


“What are you doing in Alemão?” he asked.


Some of the best questions come from those who are being interviewed.


The Rio Olympics were starting, and thousands of journalists from around the world were swarming around the city’s new sports venues. As the bureau chief here for The Times, I was also excited about the Games. But I felt the need to report outside the Olympic bubble, especially in Alemão, where the long war between drug gangs and the police was flaring up once again.


The actors in this conflict didn’t get the memo that Rio wasn’t supposed to be a theater for gun battles during the Olympics. The authorities had promised that the city would be safe during the Games, deploying tens of thousands of troops to patrol the streets. Still, I found entire families cowering in their hovels in Alemão as the fighting raged around them.


This disconnect — Olympic festivities alongside Rio’s brutal drug war — reflects the city’s fault lines. Of course, many of the journalists parachuting in for the Games are expressing awe about what they see. The city, with its teeming beaches and soaring granite peaks, remains as enchanting as ever. Television crews couldn’t ask for a better backdrop.


At the same time, some of the impressions I’ve come across remind me of that oldie but goody from The Onion, “Woman Who ‘Loves Brazil’ Has Only Seen Four Square Miles of It,” about a dental hygienist from the United States who is enthralled after soaking up the atmosphere at a luxury resort on Rio’s outskirts without ever making it into the city proper.

与此同时, 对这个国家的一些印象让我想起了洋葱网(The Onion)上的一篇文章——《“热爱巴西”的女人只看到四平方英里之内的巴西》(Woman Who ‘Loves Brazil’ Has Only Seen Four Square Miles of It),说的是一位来自美国的牙科工作者,完全沉侵在里约郊区一个奢华度假村所制造的氛围之中,连市区都没去过,却已深深地爱上了巴西。文章是很早以前发的,但其中的一些说法至今依然适用。

I’m also still enthralled with Brazil after covering the country for more than a decade, based in Rio for much of that time. The Olympics have been thrilling. The opening ceremony, sublimely choreographed by Deborah Colker, was uplifting. I’ve cheered for Brazil’s volleyball teams in Maracanãzinho alongside my wife and kids, who are proud Brazilian citizens.

我报道巴西新闻已有十多年之久——很多时候是以里约为根据地——至今却也依然对这个国家感到着迷。奥运会一直都是激动人心的。由德博拉·库克尔(Deborah Colker)精心编排的开幕舞蹈令人振奋。我曾在马拉卡纳齐诺体育场(Maracanãzinho)内为巴西排球队欢呼,以身为巴西公民为荣的妻子和孩子当时就坐在我身旁。

But it’s been surreal to see Rio, a place normally on the global news back burner, turn into something of a media circus during the Olympics.


As friends and colleagues descend on the city, my own job of bureau chief has evolved to include additional roles like ticket procurer, restaurant critic, translator, security adviser and consultant on the attributes of Rio’s pés-sujos, the great unkempt neighborhood watering holes that Cariocas call “dirty feet.”


I’ve relished the coverage of the Games by visiting colleagues from The Times, some of whom are seeing Rio for the first time. Now I know how Belize cheers for Simone Biles; what synchronized divers say to one another before the plunge; how easily table tennis balls crumple; how Brazil’s judo champion, Rafaela Silva, emerged from Rio’s favelas.

到访的时报同事对奥运会的报道让我读得津津有味,他们中的一些人是首次来到里约。现在我知道了中美洲国家伯利兹如何为西蒙·拜尔斯(Simone Biles)欢呼;知道了双人跳水运动员纵身一跃之前会跟对方说些什么;知道了乒乓球有多容易会变瘪;知道了巴西的拉斐拉·席尔瓦(Rafaela Silva)如何走出贫民区,成为柔道冠军。

When Brazil’s Olympic moment is finished, Rio, like some cities in the United States, will still be grappling with vexing levels of inequality and bloodshed. Certain favelas, the urban areas here that largely coalesced as squatter settlements, are festering with ire over the Games — especially those that were literally torn apart to make way for the Olympic overhaul.


Long before the Olympics began, I started chronicling the complex war for control over Complexo de Alemão, the vast maze of favelas thought to be named for Leonard Kaczmarkiewicz, a Polish immigrant who once owned the land in Rio’s north zone where squatters put down stakes. (A light-skinned foreigner in Brazil is still often called “alemão,” or German.)

在奥运会开幕很久之前,我就已经逐年记录对阿莱茂住宅区控制权的争夺所引发的复杂冲突。这是一片巨大的迷宫般的贫民区,其名字被认为取自波兰移民莱昂纳德·卡茨马基维奇(Leonard Kaczmarkiewic),此人一度拥有里约北部这片供棚户区居民安营扎寨的土地。(在巴西,肤色较浅的外国人至今依然常常被称作“alemão”,意为“德国人”。 )

Some of the stories I’ve covered in Alemão have been heartbreaking, like that of Alda Rafael Castilho, a young police officer who dreamed of being a psychologist. At the age of 27, she was fatally shot when gunmen stormed her police outpost. I still shudder when remembering how hard it was to interview the parents of Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira, the 10-year-old boy who was shot dead last year by the police in Alemão.

我报道过一些关于阿莱茂的令人心碎的故事,有一篇文章写的是阿尔达·拉斐尔·卡斯蒂略(Alda Rafael Castilho),一名曾梦想成为心理学家的年轻警察。27岁那年,她被冲进她所在的警察哨所的枪手射杀。而每当回想起10岁男孩爱德华多·德热苏斯·费雷拉(Eduardo de Jesus Ferreira)去年被阿莱茂的警察枪杀后,采访他的父母有多艰难,我仍然感到不寒而栗。

Someday, I hope to take the tramway in Alemão again all the way to the last stop, to visit friends who live in the Favela das Palmeiras. If they tell me that the echo of gun battles has become a distant memory, as peace finally breaks out, that would be a triumph to rival all the stunning feats I’ve witnessed during the Rio Olympics.


If you’re good at games, you might also be good at everything else