By Ben Tavener, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Dozens of comic artists yesterday donned red noses and baggy pants to stage a good-natured protest at the Arcos da Lapa, demanding the return of the traditional bonde (tram) in Santa Teresa after the system was suspended indefinitely following a fatal derailment earlier this year.

Clowns protests at Rio's Arcos da Lapa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Clowns protesting at Rio's Arcos da Lapa demanded the Santa Teresa bonde be returned to its former glory, photo by Vladimir Platonow/ABr.

“Santa Teresa without the tram is not Santa Teresa. The tram is about simplicity in the face of a more technological world and this is a symbol of poetry, as are clowns,” explained 60-year-old professional clown Leo Bassi.

Celebrating Rio’s tenth International Clown Festival, the performers also seized their opportunity to take a swipe at President Dilma Rousseff, whose political entourage has been embroiled in a slew of scandals in recent months, with Labor Minister Carlos Lupi the last to step down.

The Santa Teresa neighborhood bonde system has been suspended since August 27th when a tram derailed, killing five people and leaving over 50 others injured. A sixth victim later died, and a subsequent report found some 23 faults with the tram involved.

“We can get the tram working, with some modifications to improve security, much faster and more cheaply than the proposal presented by the government,” said Deborah Lerrer from the Santa Teresa Residents’ Association.

Rio State Governor Sérgio Cabral has said there will be two types of trams in Santa Teresa: one geared towards tourists, and a cheaper one for commuters.

Read more (in Portuguese).

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