By Jay Forte, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – As the memories of Rio’s 2017 Carnival blocos (street parties) get rinsed away by some days of light rain, Riotur, the government tourism body responsible for approving licenses for blocos, is already considering changes for next year.
Officials report that on Thursday (March 9th) and Friday (March 10th) Riotur will be meeting with public agencies that participate in the process of organizing Carnival, to define changes regarding the bloco parades in 2018’s Carnival.
All the bodies will present reports on this year’s Carnival period, and from there, make decisions about next year’s festivities, according to Riotur’s Carnival manager, Mário Felippo.
Modifications are necessary, he said, because some of the blocos, including Chora Me Liga and A Favorita (which brings around 80,000 – 100,000 to Copacabana Beach respectively), have taken a very large proportion. In addition, the roadways of Barra da Tijuca, in the Zona Oest (West Zone), was saturated, the manager said in an interview with a government news agency.
Rio native Márcia Håberg, owner of the Português Carioca language school in Leblon shared her thoughts. “I think the most popular blocos are already organized in terms of timing. [But] when it comes to the actions of the revelers is when the problems start.”
She explains, “Most of them get really drunk giving way opportunity for thefts. During Carnival, the streets in Zona Sul [South Zone] become chaos with lots of garbage, urine everywhere […] which damages the image of ‘blocos’.”
Another problem concerning authorities are the unofficial blocos that pop up. Riotur’s manager said that more control over these groups is needed, that they do not ask the city’s authorities to leave and that, according to him, they put the security of revelers and the city itself at risk.
Riotur monitored the unofficial blocos and intends to assign responsibility to its organizers for their actions. “The intention is to identify and hold these people accountable, because we have legal process that has to be fulfilled,” said Mario Felippo. No one is expected to fine anyone, according to the manager.
The authorities acknowledge it up to the public agencies to give the structure to those who will go to the blocos, which includes effective policing, chemical toilets (portable toilets), ambulance and regulation of road bans. “If people [start blocos] without making official, you lose the security that the public bodies guarantee,” said Felippo.
Among the public bodies that will participate in the meeting are the Military Police, Municipal Guard, Traffic Engineering Company of the Municipality of Rio de Janeiro (CET-Rio).
British expatriate living in Rio for years, Tom Le Mesurier, who also operates a popular food guide Eat Rio, shares his thoughts on Carnival blocos, “I wouldn’t be in favor of more regulation.”
Explaining, “A big part of the charm of Rio Carnival is that it is a little bit crazy and chaotic. Sure the blocos create a lot of mess and inconvenience (traffic, noise, etc) but a sanitized version of Carnival just wouldn’t be the same.”
Expatriate in Rio and co-owner of Azteka Mexican restaurant in Ipanema, Aglika Angelova, agrees and would not want to see the amount of blocos in Rio reduced. “I think the more the merrier. Why not more? It’s fun and it helps businesses,” she shared.
The official list of Rio’s 2017 Carnival blocos was released in late January this year, along with the schedule details, and contained a total of 451 blocos, with 578 parades (many blocos perform more than once).
The city of Rio de Janeiro expected to receive approximately 1.1 million tourists in this year’s Carnival, according to officials. According to Riotur, the movement in the economy was predicted to reach around R$3 billion, a much needed infusion of businesses for a state in financial crisis.