The 2014 FIFA World Cup is weeks away and promises to be an exciting tournament. Travellers need to take the time to understand the security challenges they may encounter. Brazil is facing protests, strikes and demonstrations daily. In recent weeks some of the strikes have even involved law enforcement. This has created less than ideal security conditions. In addition, the government has tried to tame the favelas in different regions and this has resulted in clashes between police and military personnel with various groups that occupy these areas. Many of these protests are organized by social activists that feel that the money being spent hosting the World Cup could have gone to support the citizens of Brazil. Other groups have simply used the world stage to create chaos and bring attention to their cause. These groups tend to be more violent and aggressive.
Travellers need to understand they are not in their home country. Brazil in many cases is very different from home. Numerous experts have outlined the high level of crime and stated that it is ten times higher then the norm. The police in Brazil have circulated pamphlets outlining how to react if you get robbed. This should paint a clear picture that the threats are real.
So what are the top 10 things you can do to protect yourself?
1. Travel in groups where possible. Attackers often prefer those travelling alone as they make for easier targets.
2. Stay on main streets and in public areas. That short cut you are considering is where the bad guys will be waiting and police are not likely to be patrolling.
3. Luxury items. It is nice to have loads of bling. But this can make you an instant target.
4. Let others know of your whereabouts. Set up a system where others know when and where you will check in. This way if you don’t they will know something is wrong.
5. Evening hours. That late night visit to a bar or disco sounds exciting but can also put you at considerable risk while travelling to and from.
6. Check the daily news. Protests, strikes and crime will be reported by the media and will give you a good idea on the areas to avoid.
7. Alcohol – go have a great time but ensure you have your wits about you. Criminals will prey on those that are vulnerable and intoxicated.
8. Event tickets. Most locals cannot afford tickets. Do not flash your tickets around. You are inviting trouble.
9. Have your local consulate number on hand. In the event of an emergency they can be a great resource.
10. Medical insurance. Not all hospitals are created equal. The cost for a medical evacuation is substantial. Groups such as On Call International can provide excellent coverage at affordable rates. They have a team of doctors and nurses that can manage your medical requirements and ensure the appropriate care is delivered.
Enjoy the World Cup and the country of Brazil.