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Rio Mayor Plans to Reduce Samba School Funding


Samba school members wave a giant flag as they march toward the Sambadrome during a protest against mayor Marcelo Crivella in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, June 17, 2017. The samba schools are protesting the decision by Crivella to cut carnival funding in half for the 2018 Carnival parade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)


Carnival is one of the most popular celebrations in South America’s biggest country, Brazil.

And nowhere is the six-day celebration bigger than in the city of Rio de Janeiro.

People across the city fill the streets with singing and dancing in the days before the Catholic religious observance of Lent. The festival includes parades and contests between the city’s top samba schools, known as the Special Group.

Performers from the Mocidade samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
Performers from the Mocidade samba school parade during Carnival celebrations at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

But the Rio Times newspaper reports that the mayor may reduce the amount of money given to the city’s top samba schools by one half for the 2018 festival.

Rio mayor Marcelo Crivella says the money would be used for the city’s childcare centers.

City officials say the samba schools of the Special Group received about $8 million for the Carnival parades in 2017. Now, officials want to reduce that amount to about $4 million for 2018.

Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Marcelo Crivella
Rio de Janeiro's Mayor Marcelo Crivella

Crivella said that people living in the city must decide whether they would rather use their resources for, in his words, “a three-day party or 365 days a year.”

Jorge Luiz Castanheira is the president of The Independent League of Samba Schools, or LIESA. He said that Crivella promised to invest more money in Carnival, not less, during his campaign for mayor.

He added that Rio’s economy depends on Carnival for tourism. He argued that hotels, restaurants and other economic activities create hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue for the city.

LIESA wrote a more detailed response to the mayor’s announcement on their website.

Crivella became mayor of Rio de Janeiro in January. He is a member of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God. That religious group does not approve of Carnival.

The mayor was criticized for not giving the key to the city to King Momo during this year’s Carnival. King Momo is the traditional figure of Carnival whose appearance represents the beginning of the celebration.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Jonathan Evans wrote this story based on reports from The Rio Times Online and O Globo news sites. Mario Ritter was the editor.

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Words in this Story

festival –n. a special cultural event marked by celebrations and gatherings

revenue – n. money that is collected for public use by a government through taxes

tourism – n. the business of providing hotels, restaurants, entertainment, etc., for people who are traveling

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