Brazil’s economy rains on its carnival parades

Ashley Milne-Tyte – Marketplace, 02/05/2016

Carnival celebrations are kicking off in Brazil: days of partying and parades, complete with masks, glitter and headdresses. Traditionally, the whole point of carnival is to be lavish — it’s not a time for holding back. At least, it hasn’t been until now, when Brazil is in deep economic crisis. This year one city near Sao Pãulo, Campinas, can’t fund the usual parade put on by local samba schools.

Fernanda Curi works in advertising production in Sao Pãulo. “The mayor is saying, instead of doing the parade, they’re buying medicine and an ambulance,” she said. “They’re justifying why they’re not doing carnival … because they need to buy what’s really essential.”She said smaller cities like Campinas will suffer as crowds thin, but the big ones like Rio de Janeiro, where she’s headed this week, will be fine.

Paulo Sotero directs the Brazil Institute at the Wilson Center in Washington D.C. He said Brazilians are generally an optimistic bunch, but these days morale is low. It’s not just the lousy economy. The Zika virus is spreading, and there’s an ongoing government corruption scandal.”This is no time for Carnival,” he said. “Brazil is facing a very serious crisis.”

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