Brazil Braces for Carnival
Brazil’s largest celebration, Carnival, begins on February 24 and lasts for the following five days. Unfortunately for some, Carnival is in danger of a scale-back and even cancellation in some cities due to severe budget cuts.
This year, the five-day celebration may receive less funding due to the condition of Brazil’s economy, which is still struggling to recover from the recession thatbegan in 2014. Consistently low oil prices have led to anemic growth rates for an economy dependent on petroleum extraction. Government spending has skyrocketed as tax revenues have declined, which has created massive budget deficits throughout the country. Several states have been unable to properly pay their police forces, asseen recently in Espírito Santo. There, 28 cities called off their Carnival preparations because of security concerns. In Arauama, the mayorcancelled the festivities and transferred the money allotted for Carnival to the purchase of necessary hospital equipment.
At the same time, Carnival’s free and uninhibited atmosphere has comeunder fire this year. The Mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Marcelo Crivella, has decided not to attend this year’s celebration due to his strong evangelical views. His supporters frequently disapprove of the wild partying that is associated with Carnival. Additionally, some street parties are refusing to play traditional songs due to sexist, homophobic, and racist lyrics. Carnival has always been a festival where almost everything is allowed, but the rise of political correctness has tempered such activities.
Skeptics have long feared the security implications of having celebrations on the scale of Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Around one million tourists attend and over $1 billion of revenue isgenerated for the local economy. A week prior to the kickoff of this event, there were rumors that Rio police were considering going on strike to demand better wages. Authorities and citizens were worried that this strike would be catastrophic for the safety of the revelers and have costly economic repercussions. Fortunately, police returned to work shortly thereafter and the crisis was averted.