The deadly nightclub fire is not unique in a region plagued by multiple tragedies that are often the result of lax safety standards, poor oversight, and overcrowded conditions.Enlarge
Today marks 500 days until the kick-off of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. It's a moment that normally would bring worldwide attention to the country, also host of the 2016 summer Olympics, as it seeks to secure a spot on the international stage.Skip to next paragraph Sara Miller Llana
Latin America Bureau Chief
Sara Miller Llana has been the Latin America Bureau Chief, based in Mexico City, since 2006.
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Instead, Brazil is in the spotlight for a tragic club fire that took more than 230 lives, many of the victims under the age of 20. The fire was caused by a pyrotechnic display set off by band members late Saturday evening that caused the venue to fill up, within minutes, with a cloud of deadly smoke. Many of the victims were found in the bathrooms, with reports noting they may have mistaken it for an exit or were trying to escape through back windows.
Today, FIFA was slated to unveil the official World Cup poster in Brazil, but the event was cancelled ?in respect for the more than 200 people who died in a tragic incident in Santa Maria, in the state of Rio Grande do Sul,? the group said in a statement.
The deadly fire comes at a time when Brazil is under increased scrutiny for its preparedness to host upcoming mega-events. And negative press is likely to abound, as it has each time something tragic has occurred in Brazil since it found out it was to play back-to-back host.
But maybe the spotlight can inspire widespread accountability in a region that has been plagued by multiple tragedies that are often due to lax safety standards, poor oversight, and overcrowded conditions.
The Kiss nightclub in Santa Maria was not unique in terms of club fires and deadly riots in Latin America.
Just last week, a prison riot in Venezuela left 54 dead, and nearly double that injured. The prison, Uribana, was holding 1,400 prisoners at the time that fighting broke out, according to Bloomberg, but is only designed to hold 850 prisoners. It follows another tragic incident in a jail in Venezuela in August 2012, when fighting left 20 dead, something Human Rights Watch said underscores the rampant overcrowding in Venezuelan prisons.
And tragic events reach beyond South America. A year ago, a fire broke out in a prison in Honduras that killed 350 people. And in June 2009 in Mexico, 49 victims, ages 3 and under were trapped inside a daycare in the city of?Hermosillo?in the northwest of the country.