By Jack Arnhold, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – On the evening of Monday, March 4th, samba school G.R.E.S. Paraíso do Tuiuti will compete in the Grupo Especial with their parade scheduled to begin at 1:35 AM. The group will present their ‘samba enredo’ (thematic samba composition) entitled, ‘O Salvador da Pátria’ (The Savior of the Homeland) dedicated to the goat Ioiô, a popular folklore figure in the Brazilian state of Ceará, as part of another politically-provocative parade.
For the second consecutive year, Paraíso do Tuiuti will present a samba parade that pointedly critiques the current political situation. Last year, they almost won the championship with their hugely popular parade entitled, ‘Meu Deus! Meu Deus! Está extinta a escravidão?’ (My God! My God! Is slavery extinct?), and this year they are returning with the story of the goat Ioiô, a protest figure from Cearense folklore.
In a recent interview with O Globo, the school’s ‘Carnavalesco’ (Carnival Designer) Jack Vasconcelos, who is returning for his fifth consecutive parade, comments, “’The Savior of the Homeland’ is about the goat Ioiô, who is a wonderful and beloved figure in Fortaleza.”
He continues, “The popular tale is that he was elected councilman in 1922 as a protest by the population to show their dissatisfaction with the local political elite and the wider political scene. Ioiô is a scream, a shout of popular dissatisfaction.”
The composers of this year’s samba are the same team – Moacyr Luz, Cláudio Russo, Dona Zezé, Aníbal and Jurandir – who helped the school almost clinch the championship last year in what was the surprise of Carnival 2018.
The parade will also show the wider importance of the goat in the cultural and economic life of Northeastern Brazil. The composer Moacyr Luz, one of the composers of samba, also comments in the same interview, “Usually we talk about animals as if they have no opinion, but this goat has an opinion. He is the animal that, for Tuiuti, represents us,”
Originating from the Morro do Tuiuti community, in the ‘Zona Norte’ (North Zone) neighborhood of São Cristóvão, the samba school of Paraíso do Tuiuti was officially founded in 1954. And despite its long and storied history, the school only really gained the public’s attention in the twenty-first century, after a few excellent parades.
In 2000, Paraíso do Tuiuti’s samba enredo dedicated to Dom Pedro II, Brazil’s former Emperor, finally won them promotion from Série A (Access Group).
The school then made a huge impression last year, with their controversial samba that criticized labor conditions in Brazil and the labor reforms under Michel Temer’s government. The then-President was even depicted as a ‘neo-liberal vampire’ complete with fangs and his presidential sash.
Represented by a blue-and-yellow flag, Paraíso do Tuiuti will be hoping that controversy pays off once again as they continue to critique the ongoing corruption endemic, as well as celebrating the power of popular protest and resistance.