By Mary Bolling Blackiston, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Cidade Maravilhosa is known for many things, but being an inexpensive city is not one of them. Brazil’s high import taxes and rising inflation combined with the rapidly approaching FIFA World Cup and Olympics, make Rio an incredibly expensive place in which to live – and the prices are only going up, prompting critiques and protests from Carioca residents.
In March, Rio de Janeiro came in before all other major Brazilian cities in a Fundação Getulio Vargas (FGV) study on inflation and this is felt in both big and small purchases. Between January and February, the price of mate, a popular beachfront iced tea, rose by sixty percent, for example.
Rio Surreal – Não Pague (Surreal Rio – Don’t pay) is a Facebook group dedicated to spreading the word about and boycotting the city’s skyrocketing prices. Founded on January 17th, 2014, the group’s page on the social platform already has 215,000 likes.
The page has become so popular it has spurred imitations. Founded shortly after Rio Surreal – Não Pague, the similar Rio Surreal group has a smaller following, with 48,873 likes. This group allows those who “like” the page on the social network to send in pictures of store and restaurant receipts to the group and those pictures are later posted to the group’s Facebook wall.
On February 28th, Rio Surreal posted a photo with a caption that encouraged readers to share the group’s content. “We thank you for the likes and comments on our page, but our true weapon is still sharing. Only this way will we attract more likes on our page, and stay stronger than ever, to protest against the absurd prices practiced by shopkeepers and street vendors on our beautiful beaches, of our wonderful city, Rio de Janeiro. Please share our posts,” the caption read.
The goal of both protest groups is therefore to gain as much visibility and popularity as possible to raise awareness of the city’s high prices in the hopes that those will eventually stop rising.
Read more (in Portuguese).
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