Brazil 2014

After World Cup, Brazil Returns To Normal - What A Shame!

Can Brazil apply the successful “Copa template” to everyday life and political leadership? Too often, the country tends to disappoint when the rest of the world isn't watching.

Brazil fans watch the World Cup quarterfinal match between Brazil and Colombia in Sao Paulo, on July 4, 2014.
Brazil fans watch the World Cup quarterfinal match between Brazil and Colombia in Sao Paulo, on July 4, 2014.
Valdo Cruz


BRASILIA — The World Cup is over, and with it our dream of being World Champions for a sixth time is deferred again, this time at home. Germany’s victory yesterday against Argentina came as a reward for their superb planning, and the best team of the competition were crowned.

Starting today, life in Brazil resumes its normal course.

But I would rather it was the exact opposite. I prefer the abnormality of the Copa, which should be our natural state and which, for some areas of society and for some people, is indeed the norm.

For 32 days, Brazil delighted both foreigners and Brazilians alike. Everything ran so much more smoothly than usual, from the airports and general security to the stadiums and the reception, all in a rhythm that left nothing to be desired.

Of course, there were incidents. An overpass bridge collapsed, killing two people. There were also a few security glitches like long waiting lines to access some stadiums but generally speaking, outside the pitch, the country won with style.

This means that when we put our minds to it and when we need to, we can do things well. We have been a good host, one that repainted its house, refurbished the guest room and stocked up the fridge before the visit of a long awaited guest it hopes will come back soon.

Which brings us to this question: Why can't we keep the house nice and tidy for those who live here every day as well, and not just for occasional visitors? How about treating our own neighbors in the same manner that so delighted foreign tourists?

Similarly, why wouldn’t our political rulers show every single day the same dedication to Brazil’s public services as they did during the World Cup to tell the world that, yes, we are a capable nation?

This is Brazil’s next challenge: Turn the “Copa template” we lived by these past few weeks into something normal, a symbol for every Brazilian, and be done with solutions par excellence that are only applied during exceptional events.

For that, we need to learn from our mistakes. Let us not be drunk on our momentary success. In the end it all worked well, but we should remember that the road to get there was long, painful and chaotic.

The fatal bridge collapse in Belo Horizonte should be remembered as a negative example of what happens when things are done in a rush. For the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, everything ought to be accomplished with more planning and less drama. It's also the lesson for every day.

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!

Paying tribute to the victims of the attack in Kongsberg

Terje Bendiksby/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA
Carl-Johan Karlsson

The bow-and-arrow murder of five people in the small Norwegian city of Kongsberg this week was particularly chilling for the primitive choice of weapon. And police are now saying the attack Wednesday night is likely to be labeled an act of terrorism.

Still, even though the suspect is a Danish-born convert to Islam, police are still determining the motive. Espen Andersen Bråthen, a 37-year-old Danish national, is previously known to the police, both for reports of radicalization, as well as erratic behavior unrelated to religion.

Indeed, it remains unclear whether religious beliefs were behind the killings. In an interview with Swedish daily Dagens Nyheter, police attorney Ann Iren Svane Mathiassens said Bråthen has already confessed to the crimes, giving a detailed account of the events during a three-hour interrogation on Thursday, but motives are yet to be determined.

Investigated as terrorism 

Regardless, the murders are likely to be labeled an act of terror – mainly as the victims appear to have been randomly chosen, and were killed both in public places and inside their homes.

Mathiassens also said Bråthen will undergo a comprehensive forensic psychiatric examination, which is also a central aspect of the ongoing investigation, according to a police press conference on Friday afternoon. Bråthen will be held in custody for at least four weeks, two of which will be in isolation, and will according to a police spokesperson be moved to a psychiatric unit as soon as possible.

Witnesses have since described him as unstable and a loner.

Police received reports last year concerning potential radicalization. In 2017, Bråthen published two videos on Youtube, one in English and one in Norwegian, announcing that he's now a Muslim and describing himself as a "messenger." The year prior, he made several visits to the city's only mosque, where he said he'd received a message from above that he wished to share with the world.

Previous criminal history 

In 2012, he was convicted of aggravated theft and drug offenses, and in May last year, a restraining order was issued after Bråthen entered his parents house with a revolver, threatening to kill his father.

The mosque's chairman Oussama Tlili remembers Bråthen's first visit well, as it's rare to meet Scandinavian converts. Still, he didn't believe there was any danger and saw no reason to notify the police. Tlili's impression was rather that the man was unwell mentally, and needed help.

According to a former neighbor, Bråthen often acted erratically. During the two years she lived in the house next to him — only 50 meters from the grocery store where the attacks began — the man several times barked at her like a dog, threw trash in the streets to then pick it up, and spouted racist comments to her friend. Several other witnesses have since described him as unstable and a loner.

The man used a bow and arrow to carry the attack

Haykon Mosvold Larsen/NTB Scanpix/ZUMA

Police criticized

Norway, with one of the world's lowest crime rates, is still shaken from the attack — and also questioning what allowed the killer to hunt down and kill even after police were on the scene.

The first reports came around 6 p.m. on Wednesday that a man armed with bow and arrow was shooting inside a grocery store. Only minutes after, the police spotted the suspect; he fired several times against the patrol and then disappeared while reinforcements arrived.

The attack has also fueled a long-existing debate over whether Norwegian police should carry firearms

In the more than 30 minutes that followed before the arrest, four women and one man were killed by arrows and two other weapons — though police have yet to disclose the other arms, daily Aftenposten reports. The sleepy city's 27,000 inhabitants are left wondering how the man managed to evade a full 22 police patrols, and why reports of his radicalization weren't taken more seriously.

With five people killed and three more injured, Wednesday's killing spree is the worst attack in Norway since far-right extremist Anders Breivik massacred 77 people on the island of Utøya a decade ago.

Unarmed cops

As questions mount over the police response to the attack, with reports suggesting all five people died after law enforcement made first contact with the suspect, local police have said it's willing to submit the information needed to the Bureau of Investigation to start a probe into their conduct. Police confirmed they had fired warning shots in connection to the arrest which, under Norwegian law, often already provides a basis for an assessment.

Wednesday's bloodbath has also fueled a long-existing debate over whether Norwegian police should carry firearms — the small country being one of only 19 globally where law enforcement officers are typically unarmed, though may have access to guns and rifles in certain circumstances.

Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert and professor at the Swedish Defence University, noted that police in similar neighboring countries like Sweden and Denmark carry firearms. "I struggle to understand why Norwegian police are not armed all the time," Ranstorp told Norwegian daily VG. "The lesson from Utøya is that the police must react quickly and directly respond to a perpetrator during a life-threatening incident."

Keep up with the world. Break out of the bubble.
Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!