Despite budget cuts and disease-bearing mosquitoes, both street carnival and the carnival parades went off pretty much without a hitch this year.
Last night however, there was a horrific battle (apparently without victims) between police and residents in Inhaúma, near the Complexo do Alemão. Residents say police tried to run them down with a vehicle and shot rifles into the air.
Rio natives did their best over the last several days to forget, or at least laugh at, their troubles. While some revelers wore masks with the faces of congressman Eduardo Cunha (accused of corruption) and the Japonês da Federal (a Japanese Brazilian federal police agent who often takes accused Lava Jato white collar criminals to jail), the Mocidade de Padre Miguel samba school used a Don Quixote theme to sing and dance the Lava Jato scandal, with oil rigs, rats, money-filled briefcases and headless dancers, one of whom wore a red blazer, in reference to President Dilma Rousseff.
In some blocos, women dressed up as “the [battered] women of Pedro Paulo [Carvalho]”, painting black eyes on themselves to point a finger at current mayor Eduardo Paes’ successor candidate for this year’s election, his government coordinator. His ex-wife accused him of beating her, twice– and then went to bat for his candidacy.
Street Carnival, as always, partially focused on the South Zone, especially Ipanema. While revelers left Copacabana relatively clean, the home of bossa nova took the brunt of revelers and the street vendors who camp out in streets and on the beach. The main bloco areas are covered in sand and stink of urine.
It’s unclear just why the city, which often sets its tough municipal guard on street vendors downtown and favela residents meant for removal, turns a blind eye to the vendor-campers. Could it be because they are organized by the Dream Factory, a production company owned by Rock in Rio’s Roberto Medina? Or because they sell beer and soft drinks manufactured by Ambev, a Carnival sponsor?
For the first time, young Brazilian women spoke up about a traditional facet of street Carnival: sexual harassment. Postings on Facebook discussed their discomfort and downright accusations of behavior that until now has simply been an accepted aspect of the one time of year when everyone has the “right” to flout convention and shirk responsibility. At the same time, same-sex couples seemed to feel very much at home on Rio streets, as longtime Brazilian social conventions ease up.
And so begins the year 2016, which, City Hall tells us in banners everywhere, is a year that is “here to stay”– whatever that means.