Brazil official says political crisis won't hit Rio security

AP News
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Posted: Jun 29, 2016 3:41 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — One of Brazil's top security officials says the political turmoil that has brought repeated changes to key government positions will not affect security at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

Andrei Rodrigues, responsible for overseeing Brazil's security at special events, said Wednesday there will be no impact on the games despite staff turnover triggered by impeachment proceedings against suspended President Dilma Rousseff.

"We are absolutely sure of the quality of the operation we are assembling," Rodrigues said. "We already did it in the (football) World Cup two years ago, this is no rhetoric. Rio does successful events every year, this will be no different."

The Olympics open in just over five weeks. Brazil's plan is to have 85,000 security personnel on the streets — one of the biggest policing operations in the history of the games.

This week acting President Michel Temer replaced the leader of the country's intelligence agency, which is responsible for tracking terrorism threats.

Brazilian media reports also claim that the head of the federal police could soon be replaced.

Lawmakers are now saying that Rousseff's final impeachment trial should end after the Olympics, which would be a relief for organizers who feared mass protests — for and against her — during the games.

Rodrigues, a federal police officer who did the same job under Rousseff in the 2014 World Cup, told journalists that his new colleagues have enough experience to deal with the biggest event in sports.

Rodrigues recognized that Rio state government's financial quagmire is "the greatest problem" for public security during the Olympics, but insisted the issue will be solved in good time before the games begin on Aug. 5.

Francisco Dornelles, Rio's acting governor, warned Monday that budget shortfalls could compromise security — and that the Olympics could be "a big failure."

On Tuesday the chief organizer of the Rio Olympics said security was his top concern, well ahead of the Zika virus, which is linked to birth defects in babies. CEO Sidney Levy pointed to "lone wolf" attackers as the biggest risk to the games.