Rio kicks off Carnival parade with anti-establishment tone

The Associated Press

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — There are some Brazilians who aren’t likely to find much to enjoy about the start of Rio de Janeiro’s colorful Carnival parades — the mayor, the governor and the president.

An anti-establishment tone is echoing through this year’s celebrations in Brazil. And Sunday night’s parade at the Sambadrome was expected to feature entries blasting the country’s political leadership at a moment of economic slump and political scandal.

President Michel Temer, Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Luiz Fernando Pezao and Rio Mayor Marcelo Crivella were expected to skip the two-day bash at the Sambadrome. The samba parades used to be a magnet for politicians before a sprawling corruption investigation began in 2014.

Brazil holds a presidential election in October and the results are hard to predict in a polarized society. The front-runner in opinion polls is former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, but he faces a growing risk of being arrested within weeks following a corruption conviction.

In Rio, though, the most criticized politician by far is the mayor.

Mangueira, one of Rio’s most popular samba schools, prepared a float that features a plastic butt with Crivella’s name on it. Since taking office last year, the evangelical bishop-turned-politician has cut city funding for samba schools and avoided the bash.

A shirt popular among revelers says “Carnival will kick the Crivella out of you.” Earrings, tiaras and banners have also been used against the mayor, who has said he has nothing against Carnival but considers it to be “only a party.”

The Beija-Flor samba school will compare Brazil’s political environment to Frankenstein, in a reference to the country’s sharp divisions and intolerance to differences.

The anti-establishment tone has been present in costumes and parties and street parties nationwide since Friday.

Earlier Sunday, a street party organized by unions in the capital of Brasilia took swipes at Temer and the country’s judiciary.