By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The city of Rio de Janeiro announced on Wednesday its Carnival operation schedule for the five-day Carnival holiday. In addition to extra security patrolling the streets, officials say that starting Friday, the streets of Copacabana will have facial recognition and vehicle license plate cameras to identify individuals and automobiles sought by police.
“The (face recognition) pilot project will work all during Carnival,” said spokesperson for Rio’s Military Police, Mauro Flies.
According to officials, the system that will debut in the city during Carnival, should help reduce thefts and robberies.
Critics, however, say that a period when people are wearing costumes and masks is not the time to be testing this sort of equipment.
“People are wearing heavy makeup, glitter and masks, for heaven sakes,” says Rio resident Thereza Musso.
“The only thing they will find is a thousand ‘Bolsonaros” and “Fabio Assunçãos,” (famous Brazilian TV soap opera,” mocks the retired teacher.
As for security measures, government officials say that 3,480 municipal guards will be patrolling the Sambodromo region, where the official Carnival Samba Parades are held while almost 5,500 officers will be patrolling areas where Carnival street ‘blocos’ are scheduled to pass.
Rio’s Samba Parades are scheduled to be held Sunday and Monday night, while street blocos will be parading down most of Rio’s neighborhoods from Saturday (March 2nd) all the way to Tuesday (March 5th).
The city’s travel entity, Riotur, expects Rio tourism numbers to exceed 2018 results. “Last year we had 1.5 million tourists and I believe we will surpass that number,” said Riotur President, Marcelo Alves.