By Nicole Froio, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Zona Portuária (Port Zone) of Rio has been getting a facelift since 2009, and the changes are starting to shine through now that some old samba groups are coming back to their roots. The blocos (samba group parades) Morro do Pinto, founded in 1972, and Fala Meu Louro, founded in 1938, could be seen back on the streets last Saturday, January 19th.
Organizer of the revival of Fala Meu Louro, Isabel Boechat spoke to The Rio Times about what the comeback of the bloco means. “To the residents of the Port Zone, the revival of Fala Meu Louro represents the rescue of the zone’s self esteem.”
“The port had been, since it closed, completely trashed. Our region is Rio’s richest cultural zone. Reviving this culture is important. Now we’re having an architectural reform, but we can’t let our history die,” she said.
Fala Meu Louro was born out of a football (soccer) team that was based in the Port area – and was famous for its rivalry with other groups. They often got into fights and were feared by other more peaceful blocos.
The official relaunch of the 75-year old bloco will be on January 26th, an event that is still being planned in its details, and Morro do Pinto will also have an official relaunch. Last Saturday, seventeen blocos already paraded and performed in the area, proving that the project to revive the neighborhood around the port is already bringing results.
Ms. Boechat thinks the comeback of the blocos will benefit residents all year long too. “I know that for some residents, the Fala Meu Louro comeback is another option for culture,” she said. “We want the younger public that hasn’t enjoyed Fala Meu Louro to get to know our history and to help us make new history. We are going to put Fala Meu Louro with the great Carnival blocos, where it begins.”
The project is half funded by the government, and half funded by private companies that will benefit from a richer and more accessible Port Zone. Transport, infrastructure, architecture and culture are being worked on to bring more people to the area.
Currently the main issue facing residents in the Port Zone is with transportation, and the traffic in Avenida Brasil, which should be solved by the demolition of four kilometers of Avenida Perimetral and the construction of four new tunnels.
In recent news the American real estate tycoon Donald Trump announced he and some partners are developing office buildings worth an estimated R$5 billion to R$6 billion. Trump is branding the project which will consist of five skyscrapers, each being 150 meters tall, with 38 floors.
Yet for the area culture, the revival of these bloco groups, along with the creation of new ones, is an indication that the Port Zone can be a great place for tourism during Carnival in future years.