By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – While hundreds of thousands of Carnival-goers flock to streets of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, many smaller cities have cancelled or drastically reduced the traditional festivities due to the economic woes faced by the country. For the administrators who run these smaller cities, the money, used in past years for the traditional parades, will be used for health, education and infrastructure.
“We are not against Carnival, but administering a city requires (one to) choose priorities,” explained Clayton Machado, mayor of Valinhos, 90 km from São Paulo city, when announcing the cancellation. “We are making an extraordinary effort to maintain the quality of our essential services,” he told a local newspaper.
The example of Valinhos has been followed by at least 54 other cities throughout Brazil, whose officials have decided to invest the resources improve the municipalities’ living condition according to Folha de S. Paulo newspaper.
In Porto Ferreira, interior of São Paulo, for example, officials are using the R$150,000 the city was saving for the festivities to purchase a much needed ambulance. The city’s social media outlets received dozens of messages of support for the action. “It was a very difficult decision, but the sudden decline in revenues forced us to define priorities,” explained Mayor Renata Braga in the city’s webpage. “Health is one of them.”
In São Jõao del Rey, Minas Gerais, a popular destination for Brazilians during Carnival, there are reports that the local government decided to use the R$350,000 normally spent on samba schools to close many of the city’s potholes and purchase medicine for the local free clinic.
Many of the cities not holding official samba parades, however, were able to obtain private funding for the popular street processions. This is the case of the municipality of Cabo Frio, in Rio de Janeiro, a favorite destination for those who want a quick getaway from the city. Party-goers turned to private funding for their Carnival festivities since the local government said that with the economic crisis it would be unable to invest in samba schools this year.