On May 29-30, 2014, U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro John S. Creamer made an official visit to Salvador, Bahia. The primary purpose of the trip was to discuss issues related to the preparations for the FIFA 2014 Word Cup games that will be held in Salvador. None of the three games that the U.S. Men’s National Team will play in the World Cup’s group stage will take place in Bahia. However, in case the U.S. classifies for the round of sixteen, it will play in Salvador, which would potentially attract a large number of American tourists to the city. The Consul General also took advantage of the trip to visit Steve Biko Cultural Institute and Bagunçaço Cultural Group. The two NGOs have partnered with the Consulate and the Brazil-United States Cultural Association (ACBEU) to host UP with English (vocational English) classes for their students.
The trip started with a visit to the Integrated Center for Command and Control (CICC), a state-of-the-art security facility developed by the Bahia State Government. At CICC, the Consul General attended a briefing on security strategies and technologies developed by the State Secretariat of Public Security (SSP) for the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Colonel Marcos Oliveira, Coordinator of Special Operations for Mega Events, conducted the briefing. Consul General Creamer then visited Steve Biko Cultural Institute, the oldest NGO in Brazil that focuses on the access of Afro-Brazilian students to higher education. Steve Biko is currently hosting an UP with English (vocational English) class for 20 students from the NGO. At Steve Biko, the Consul General engaged in a discussion on themes related to civil rights, race relations and affirmative action in Brazil. Participants included the Honorary President of Steve Biko, City Councilman Sílvio Humberto dos Passos Cunha (Brazilian Socialist Party – PSB), directors and professors of the NGO, and current and former students.
Consul General Creamer then proceeded to Bagunçaço Cultural Group, a Salvador, Bahia-based NGO that develops cultural and educational programs targeted at at-risk-youth. He visited Bagunçaço’s facilities in Alagados, an underserved neighborhood in Salvador, watched a short fiction film produced by the NGO, attended a percussion presentation and engaged in a discussion of themes related to social inclusion, citizenship, human and civil rights, and the relationship between the police and underserved communities in Bahia. Like Steve Biko, Bagunçaço is also hosting an UP with English program for 20 students.
On the following day, the Consul General visited the U.S. Consular Agency in Salvador, where he gave an interview to Correio da Bahia newspaper. The interview focused on themes related to the 2014 World Cup, including U.S. tourists in Brazil for the World Cup, Mission Brazil’s American Citizen Services (ACS) support during the games, the Consul General’s view on Bahia’s initiatives, strategies, programs and infrastructure works to host World Cup games, and other soccer related issues. Consul General Creamer then met with a group of Bahia State officials at the State Secretariat for FIFA Brazil 2014 World Cup Affairs (SECOPA), including SECOPA’s Chief of Staff, Jorge Wilton Pereira de Jesus. The conversation focused on themes related to the World Cup games that will take place in Salvador. Topics discussed included urban mobility, public security, tourism, foreign officials who will visit Bahia during the World Cup, the outlook for public service strikes and/or protests, communications, health services, language training for employees in the service sector, port and airport reform, and special cultural programs related to the World Cup. After the meeting, the Consul General gave an interview for SECOPA’s webpage. He then proceeded to do a guided tour of Fonte Nova Soccer Stadium, where he inspected the VIP and VVIP seating areas, visited the soccer field, and was briefed on the stadium’s thorough renovation for the World Cup and FIFA’s plan to host games at Fonte Nova.
The trip was concluded with a luncheon in honor of Consul General Creamer, hosted by Bahia State Secretary of Industry, Trade and Mining James Correia. The Consul General had the opportunity to discuss themes related to the Bahian economy, and bilateral trade and investments with the U.S. He also discussed a future program on The Geopolitics of Energy, to be developed in partnership between the Consulate, the Bahia State Secretariat of Industry, Trade and Mining (SICM), and the Bahia State Federation of Industries (FIEB). This program will take place on August 11, 2014, and feature Dr. Paul Isbell, CAF Energy Fellow at the Center for Transatlantic Relations at Johns Hopkins University-SAIS, as keynote speaker.