By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – This past Monday, July 3rd, Pedra do Sal, one of the most traditional “roda de samba” in Rio, canceled its free weekly event citing weather but also fear of a major operation by the city’s municipal guard in the area.
The musicians claimed to have been informed by a City Hall’s employee of a ‘public order’ municipal guard operation aimed at confiscating the products sold by unauthorized street vendors.
The operation was rumored to be scheduled for last Monday, at the same hour and venue the roda de samba takes place.
“We do not want our audience to be exposed to the Municipal Agents’ truculence with the street vendors that, eventually, do not have authorization”, said Pedra do Sal’s samba group on their Facebook page.
The samba organizers also criticized a decree released by Mayor Marcello Crivella and City Hall in June, which modified the rules for shows, exhibitions and events taking place in public venues.
The musicians and organizers contend that Pedra do Sal’s roda de samba meets all the requirements to be playing at a public space. “Our authorization lasts one year, so we are allowed to be there,” said the group.
Happening every Monday (and Friday during the summer), the Pedra do Sal roda de samba is known for its free and open atmosphere, attracting tourists and Carioca’s from all over the city.
Bel Casson, Australian expatriate and manager at Caminhos Language Centre in Ipanema, told The Rio Times, “Everyone knows Pedra do Sal is the place samba originated in Rio de Janeiro and it’s a drawcard for tourists and locals alike.”
“There’s no other spot in Rio which pulls a crowd this big on a Monday night continuously.” She adds, “All the locals come out to celebrate samba and introduce the tourists to their culture. It’s an amazing vibe and an event we don’t want to lose.”
In regard to the rumored police operation, “If the event was cancelled it would be devastating for everyone. We love Pedra do Sal and our Monday nights celebrating samba and catching up with friends.”