By Doug Gray, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO – As part of Mayor Edwardo Paes’ continuing battle against the everyday minor infractions that have come to characterize life in Rio De Janeiro, two clubs in Copacabana were raided this week following an investigation by the Prefeitura.
Under the guise ‘Operacao Boate Legal’ (‘Operation Legal Club’) both Clandestiono Bar in Rua Barata Ribeiro and Mariuzinn nightclub on Avenida Nossa Senhora da Copacabana were closed in the early hours of Thursday morning for flouting various licensing laws and, in the case of Clandestino, operating illegally as a nightclub.
The latter, part of the Stone Of A Beach hostel popular with backpackers, has operated for two years as a club in the basement of the same building, but the premises only has a license for accommodation and a bar. It had become a successful club drawing local and international DJs and was a victim of its own popularity, drawing complaints from locals on which the authorities eventually acted.
The owners of Mariuzinn have been fined for selling alcohol without labels while Clandestino faces a stiff fine of R$2,000 for allowing smoking on the premises and further punishment for operating illegally as a club.
The move follows a major crackdown on clubs and bars in Barra recently that has seen popular venues such as Nuth and Sao Nunca reprimanded for a variety of illegalities including excessive noise levels, blocking the streets with tables and chairs and failure to comply with sanitation laws.
Many have welcomed the continued tightening of policy, and strict following of the law. However the authorities, and the Paes’ administration continues to receive criticism for focusing on Zona Sul and the tourist areas of Copacabana and Ipanema while ignoring other parts of town where such infractions are even more noticeable.
The ‘Shock and Order’ policy instigated at the beginning of Paes’ administration has so far seen many streets cleared of tables and chairs from bars that spill out onto the sidewalks, a clampdown on illegal advertising and a wide ranging move against illegal street vendors, most noticeably around places like the Maracanã Stadium which were once awash with temporary food and drink stalls.
Paes is a disciple of former New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani’s get-tough tactics, and the American was recently invited to spend time with him and be shown around Rio. The initiative attracted headlines during Carnival earlier in the year when a young man became the only person to be arrested for urinating in public, practically a city tradition during the month-long street parties that occur every year.
Locals are swift to note that such crackdowns are a cyclical way of life in Rio, however, and the true test of Paes’ success will be if he is able to keep clubs like Clandestino closed, or if, as many predict, another problem will arrive to deflect the authorities’ attention and life in the city will again revert to ‘normal’.