Latin Americans cheering for each other _ for now

Published on NewsOK Modified: June 22, 2014 at 2:05 pm •  Published: June 22, 2014
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Latin Americans are cheering for each other at the World Cup. But that camaraderie will disappear in a few days when the knockout games arrive.

For now, there's Latin fusion.

Brazilian Samba is drowned out by Mexican Mariachi or by Cumbias from Colombia. Mexicans roam around in giant, drooping sombreros. Argentines wear masks depicting Maradona, Lionel Messi or Pope Francis. Uruguayans lug around thermos bottles of hot water for their famous herbal tea, called mate.

Latin Americans have felt at home in Brazil, and the results show.

Four have already clinched a spot in the knockout stage — Colombia, Chile, Argentina and Costa Rica. And four more have a chance to make the final 16: Uruguay, Mexico, Ecuador and host Brazil.

Fans from neighboring countries have swarmed into Brazil — in buses, vans, and at least one on a bicycle all the way from Mexico.

Argentines blanketed Rio's Copacabana beach, spilling out of trucks and motorhomes parked from one end to the other along the 4-kilometer-long (2.5-mile) promenade. Most arrived without tickets. About 50,000 were encamped in Rio, and the Argentine embassy expects 100,000 for the final group match against Nigeria on Wednesday in Porto Alegre.

Fans have hugged, drank, danced in costumes and belted out a cappella renditions of national anthems at the kickoff. Stadiums have been deafening, driven partly by passionate Latinos.

"The influx of Latin American supporters is above our expectations," said Roberto Alzir, a top Rio de Janeiro state security official in charge of policing the World Cup.

There have also been a few ugly street scenes, one with Brazilians and Argentines in Belo Horizonte hurling beer bottles and insults at each other. In Rio, about 100 Chileans fans rampaged through the Maracana media area, and at least 10 Argentine fans were detained after jumping fences at the famous stadium to see their team play Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"When they said the World Cup would be in Brazil, we started packing," said Argentine Juan Jose Martinez, who drove 36 hours in a van non-stop from Cordoba, Argentina, with friend Pedro Luis Esquivel and two others.

It's been costly. Argentina's recent debt crisis has seen the peso plunge in value against Brazil's real.

Munching on a fast-food burger and fries, the two estimated the price for the meal in Brazil was four times that in Argentina.

"It's not Brazil's fault," said Martinez, who works as a casino croupier. "It's the fault of Argentina with the wrecked economy we have. But this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so you do it."

The next two World Cups in Russia and Qatar will be too far away, not to mention language problems. Though Brazilians speak Portuguese, Spanish speakers can usually communicate with them— or guess what's being said.

"I feel very at home here," said Cristhian Recalde, who traveled from Guayaquil, Ecuador, with his brother Roger.



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