The Zika virus may cancel the Summer Olympic Games, scheduled for August. Dozens of cities across the country have already canceled Carnival celebrations, and the U.S. Olympic Committee has warned athletes and staff to consider skipping the Rio Games. Zika threatens public health, tourism revenue and the country’s prestige.
A slowing economy is already inflicting pain on Brazil’s people. Inflation surged to 10.67% in 2015, its highest point in 13 years. Unemployment is on the rise. Per capita income has fallen by more than one-third since 2011. Brazil isn’t in a recession–it’s in a free fall. GDP growth fell from 7.5% in 2010 to –3.8% in 2015. In January, commuters in São Paulo hit the streets to denounce higher bus fares, a worrisome repeat of spontaneous protests that swelled to more than 1 million people across the country in 2013. Even without Zika, protests might have turned the Olympics into the wrong kind of spectacle.
Hard economic times are exacerbated by a corruption scandal that has provoked impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff and threatens leading politicians in government and the opposition.
The slow-motion train wreck of compounding wicked problems.