Unthinkable: Carnaval Cancelled In Rio And Sao Paulo?

by Brazil Club - Let The Music Take You There on 06/23/2017 - 12:01 pm

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Could this be the scene in Rio next February?

The city’s new mayor – faced with dire financial circumstances after the Olympic circus left town 10 months ago -  is enacting budgetary cuts that could stop Carnaval in its tracks.

It is almost unthinkable, but such is Rio de Janeiro’s reality after corruption, governmental over-spending, political payoffs and a series of ill-timed decisions drained the Carioca coffers.

First came the stadium construction disasters ahead of Brazil’s 2014’s World Cup fiasco, which led to the decision to double down with an ambitious agenda for the Summer games. Add in the country’s ever-widening political corruption scandal, Presidential impeachment and a severe economic downturn, and here we are.

Each of Rio’s 12 Escolas do Samba (Samba Schools) plan and prepare for parade competition in the city’s iconic Sambadrome. It’s a year-long process to create a parade theme, a Carnaval anthem to go with it, plus ornate, hand-made floats and costumes for up to 5,000 marchers. The organic result is the World’s Largest Party, and Rio de Janeiro’s worldwide cultural calling-card.

For this, city hall gives each Escola USD$600,000, and all agree that it has been a good investment. But now, it’s no longer the Samba Schools telling the story of Carnaval, its… international headlines.



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According to London’s Daily Mail, “(Mayor) Crivella is studying a plan to take about half of the approximately $7million budget for the samba schools and use it for funding the approximately 15,000 children in municipal kindergartens.

The mayor's office said: 'What we are doing is reflecting on how to spend in a better way - whether to use these resources for a three-day party or spread out over 365 days.'”

The Rio Times reports, “Rodrigo Braz Vieira, a Carioca and director of Rio-based tour operator Bravietour explained the shock, “Since 1932 we officially celebrate the Carnival parades of Rio de Janeiro, from the very first parade won by Mangueira, there has never been a real risk of the parades being canceled, as the next one in 2018 due to the announced funding cut by the Mayor of Rio.”

He adds, “Carnival has, besides its great culture importance for Rio and the whole of Brazil […], an expectation for both locals and foreign visitors that book travel to Rio especially to see the world known parade. Above all Carnival generates an enormous income and jobs, directly and indirectly.”

It has been reported that Rio’s Carnaval events bring in an estimated USD$1 billion in revenue annually.

Mayor Crivella did not attend this year’s Carnaval celebrations, breaking a decades-long tradition. Critics in Brazil point to his Evangelical religious beliefs as the real reason for these Carnaval cuts. This, coming from the largest Catholic country in the world.

The ink had barely dried on this story before Sao Paulo’s Mayor Joao Doria made a similar announcement by stating that Latin America’s largest city will also slash public funding for its Samba School celebrations.

Mayor Doria hints at the greater truth: Brazil’s big government and economic chickens have come home to roost and now, they may very well be used in place of peacock feathers for next year’s parade costumes.

What do you think? Will Rio's Carnaval be cancelled?


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