English · Português
ISSN 0102-8529 (Impresso)
1982-0240 (Online)
PUC-Rio - Página inicial Instituto de Relações Internacionais Revista Contexto Internacional

Vol. 39, N° 3, 2017

Security for Show? The Militarisation of Public Space in Light of the 2016 Rio Olympic Games

Veronica F. Azzi


This article aims to analyse the increasing militarisation of public space in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro, particularly on the eve of the 2016 Olympics. To this end, I briefly discuss how the concept of militarisation has been historically approached in the International Relations literature, namely within the security field. In the first section, I address the nature of the domestic security challenges Brazil faces as a developing country. In the second section, I show that the public security challenge of organised crime in Rio was securitised and confronted by increasing militarisation over the years as a result of a specific model of neo-liberal social control carried out by the country. I then analyse Brazil’s Olympics security scheme carried out in order to portray Rio as a safe city to the world. In the last section, I highlight the contradictions between accounts on the collapse in domestic security vis-à- vis official government statements to the international media to assure that ‘nothing would go wrong’ during the mega sports event. The idea is to show how the militarisation of public security, rather than mere governmental efforts to signal stability to the international community during the Olympics, is a trend likely to outlast the event that implies not only, but mainly, the perpetuation of insecurity.

Keywords: (In)Security; Securitisation; Militarisation; Global Cities; Neo-liberalism; Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

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