Authorities in Rio de Janeiro began punishing litterbugs with fines of as much as 3,000 reais ($1,250) in the latest bid to clean up the beach-side city ahead of next year’s soccer World Cup.
As part of what’s been dubbed operation “Zero Trash,” a team of 600 city workers and police officers armed with portable electronic devices are being deployed to enforce a decade-old law against littering. Fines range from 157 reais for tossing away items the size of a beer can to as much as 3,000 reais -- more than four times the monthly minimum wage -- for those caught illegally dumping debris and other large items.
In downtown Rio this morning, at least 42 people were fined, O Globo newspaper reported. Those who decline to show ID cards face arrest.
The cleanup follows efforts by Mayor Eduardo Paes to bring order to the city of 6.3 million, which is also hosting the 2016 Summer Olympics. As part of the mayor’s so-called shock and order initiative, authorities in recent years have cracked down on everything from operators of illegal transport vans and street vendors to the sale of grilled shrimp and soccer playing on the city’s beaches.
While Rio’s natural landscapes and annual Carnival celebration are major tourist draws, city residents called cariocas have been known to neglect to care for their hometown, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was ranked 31st for cleanliness out of 40 tourist destinations around the world in a survey of travelers carried out last year by the TripAdvisor website.