By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – The city of Rio de Janeiro will not financially help the Iemanja Boat procession that takes place every end of year in Copacabana Beach. This is the second major event in Rio’s tourist calendar that city officials have said will not be receiving financial help from the city due to Rio’s troubled financial situation.

Brazil, Rio de Janeiro,Umbandista-religion members carry flowers to the sea to honor Godess of the Sea, Iemanjá,
Umbandista-religion members carry flowers to the sea to honor Godess of the Sea, Iemanjá, photo by Tânia Rêgo/Agência Brasil.

This would be the thirteen edition of the procession where Umbanda-religion members honor the God of the Sea, Iemanjá, by setting out a boat with her image from Copacabana beach. The boat procession was included in the official calendar of events in Rio and the congregation argues that the procession promotes action against religious intolerance.

“It’s very sad after so many years. It will be difficult to keep the procession,” said Brazilian Umbandista Congregation (Ceub) President Fatima Damas to Extra news media. “Umbanda is not just religion. Unfortunately, the mayor does not see it that way.”

According to Damas, the event, scheduled for December 16th, costs at least R$20,000 to occur. In 2016, the city gave the procession R$30,000, which the association used in the rental of buses to transport people, installation of tents and use of generators, as well as providing flowers and fruits to the public.

Damas now hopes to obtain funds via donations through the Internet. “People count on that day, people come from everywhere,” lamented Damas Fatima.

The suspension of funding for the procession is just one of a series of cost reductions promoted by Rio’s Mayor, Marcelo Crivella. In June the Crivella announced he was cutting funding for the 2018 Carnival by half, and using the money in education and healthcare.

The uproar from Samba schools and residents was such that the federal government stepped in and on Thursday announced that, through its Rouanet Cultural Law funds, samba schools could apply for financial aid worth R$8 million for Rio’s 2018 Carnival.

“The ball is now in the League of Samba Schools’s court,” said Culture Minister Sergio Sá Leitão. According to the official samba schools need to fill out the proper proposal papers for the funds.

Carnival festivities, according to Sá Leitão injects R$2 billion into the city’s economy every year. “It is money that flows throughout society, irrigates the economy as a whole and reaches many people,” he concluded.

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