Tag Archives: World Cup

South Africa: World Cup Ready

This June, South Africa will host the world in the largest international games, the World Cup.  This is an event has been a point of pride for the country and the continent since it was chosen as the site of the World Cup in 2004.  It will be the first time an African nation will play host to these games.

But South Africa has had a problem with violence for the better part of its history and violent crime has risen dramatically in Johannesburg in recent years.  The country continues to rank second to Colombia in terms of murder rate.

Most troubling is the recent call by the South African white supremacist “Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging” movement called the recent killing of their leader a “declaration of war” by blacks against whites.  In their statements, the group is using the World Cup as leverage for its threats rather than what many would hope would be a time to call a truce.

The country has made multi-billion dollar investments in advanced technology to track and respond to crime.  There was talk several years ago of Rudy Giuliani’s group assisting the city with efforts, but according to a South African publication, the Daily Maverick, the fault of the failed partnership lies with the city’s mayor, Amos Masondo.  “In reality, no one from Masondo’s office bothered to return Giuliani’s phone calls.” But the politics and those making decisions have changed.

The US has seen its fair share of unexplained violent crime.  The recent mass shooting in Southeast Washington, DC or plans by the militia group in Clayton, Michigan are examples of our own problems, not to mention the countless crimes that go unreported in the national media. While there is no question the crime rate in South Africa country is much higher than the U.S. tourists should remember that crime can happen anywhere.

There is little evidence of positive movement for the country.  The cameras have improved response time dramatically, however it has not reduced the incidence of crime in the same dramatic fashion.  But what there is evidence of is a willingness and desire by the local officials to take the problem seriously and protect the expected inflow of tourists.  The country has prioritized this event even speeding in the judicial system.  The country aims to please tourists, in more ways than one.  The collective will may not stop all crime, but I am hopeful and confident it will alleviate a good deal of the fear.

Editor’s note:  For full disclosure, I wrote this post after the purchase of my tickets to the country, therefore my hope may be interpreted as slightly selfish.

Written by Emma Sandoe


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Challenges Face Next Honduran President

Thousands celebrated in the streets of Tegucigalpa yesterday when Honduras qualified for the World Cup after defeating El Salvador 1-0.

However, on the political front, it is unclear whether celebrations will soon be in order. And in terms of the economy, prospects are undeniably grim.

An Organization of American States-led envoy has been in the capital since last week urging ousted President Zelaya and interim leader Micheletti to agree on a resolution to the months-old political crisis. Reports are mixed as to whether a clear solution will soon be formed. Both parties have agreed that Zelaya must abandon his efforts to change the Honduran constitution, but no decision has been made as to whether he will be able to serve out the remainder of his Presidential term. Zelaya is calling on his supporters to boycott the rapidly-approaching Presidential election, slated for November 29th, if he is not returned to power today.

In the shadow of this unfolding political controversy, election preparations are already underway. The two leading candidates, Elvin Santos (Partido Liberal) and Porfirio Lobo Sosa (Partido Nacional), have already launched campaigns which emphasize their strategies to improve the Honduran economy. PBS reports:

The Liberal Party candidate, Elvin Santos, calls himself the “employment candidate” in his ads. In another Santos TV spot, his wife, aspiring first lady Becky de Santos, speaks earnestly about her concern for Honduras’s poor, which makes up 70 percent of the population.

The leading candidate, Porfirio Lobo, of the National Party, appears in a competing ad in which he promises to push micro-financing to help women entrepreneurs.

The winner of November’s election (should it occur as scheduled) will inherit a host of serious economic challenges. The Honduran economy, which was already suffering from a contraction in exports due to the global downturn, has been further crippled by the political crisis which cost the country an estimated $50 million per day. The BBC reports that revenues from the tourist industry have declined by 40% in the past three months, and a total of 12,000 maquiladora jobs are expected to disappear by the end of 2009. Experts further estimate that the Honduran economy will see a 2.6% contraction in GDP this year.

The next President of Honduras will face the dual challenge of politically reconciling a deeply divided population, and addressing the needs of the country’s poor. This will be especially difficult in the likely event that such measures threaten the powerful economic elite which played a key role in Zelaya’s ouster.

By Mary Tharin

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