Clique aqui para Carnaval 2014: greve de garis aponta transformação social
Carnalixo (Carnitrash), some say
It’s okay to be angry in a crowd; the crowd feeds on your anger, digests it, nourishes your rage as your rage nourishes it. All of a sudden you feel powerful. You can take on anybody. It is not their city anymore, it is your city. You own this city by right of your anger.
–Suketu Mehta, writing about Mumbai in his book Maximum City, published in 2004
There’s tragedy in the insane. And not only in what’s defined as insanity in this historical era. There’s another tragedy, that of not being listened to. Whenever someone diagnosed with mental illness commits a crime, the pathology is used to annul all questions and wipe out any discourse on meaning. The person is no longer a person with a history and circumstances, in which the illness is a circumstance and part of the story, never the whole picture. The person is no longer a person, but an illness.
–Eliane Brum, writing on the recent violence in Brazil, on the Spanish newspaper El Pais’ site in Portuguese
Carnival is Rio de Janeiro’s main event. We see this movement taking place at this time as blackmail.
– Vinícius Roriz, president of Rio’s city sanitation company, Comlurb, quoted on the Globo site, G1
Given the turbulence that began last June and continues to this day, it seemed that this Carnival would somehow be different. But in what way, if Carnival is already about turning things upside down?
Who could have guessed that the newly-formed RioRealblogTV team would hit the nail on the head, weeks ago, when we chose the subject matter of our first video (click on the captions icon to see English subtitles)?
The irony couldn’t be bigger. While Carnival stands for a retreat from all that is authentic, with revelers masquerading as sailors, pirates and nuns, reality shoved its stinky face into our own. This year, Rio’s 15,000 garbage men awarded long life to the mountains of detritus that they used to remove from our sight, almost magically.
So here is the violence we feared this year. Inviting the mayor to pick up a broom and sweep the city clean by himself, garbage workers marched city streets in protest. “The mayor wants to hold the World Cup and the garbage workers want to buy groceries” one sign said.
The mess presents us with the complexity of the moment, with strikers (now fired) claiming that the union, that negotiated a 9% pay rise, doesn’t represent them. How should we calculate the value of urban sanitation now, when a garbage man or woman can easily find another job, the cost of living is rising frenetically, and we’re on the eve of the World Cup?
Last year, the blog commented on the (lack of) sustainability of Carnival seen in the quantity of trash it produces. It seems that City Hall, Dream Factory (the company that organizes street Carnival) and the soft-drink and beer manufacturer, Ambev, also identified the problem. This year we saw an effort on their part to collect recyclables and orient street vendors.
But the Carnival 2014 strike brings up a kind of carelessness that goes beyond the environment, that permeates all of Brazilian society and may well be a key source of the violence we’ve been experiencing, as Eliane Brum notes in her excellent article.
Carelessness of the human being.