Dirty Water, the Burning Amazon and the Siege of the Arts Invade São Paulos Carnival Songs

With plots ranging from oil censorship at sea and fire in the Amazon, street carnival groups maintain anarchic tradition

São Paulo

When art is under attack, it gives way to art moved by drums. The themes of São Paulo's street carnival groups—blocos—will include the burning Amazon, oil in the Northeast Sea, and even the dirty water in Rio's taps.

But the lyrics of on marchinha, the songs that carnival groups march to, promise: "there is no shit that lasts forever."

The Confraria do Pasmado band. (Foto: Danilo Verpa/Folhapress, COTIDIANO) - Danilo Verpa

Street carnival groups are planning another year of politicized revelry in this 2020 Carnival. Last year São Paulo overtook Rio in the number of street carnival groups.

At Casa Comigo's São Paulo parade, "the arts will roll". Raphael Guedes, one of the group's founders, lists episodes of what he calls cultural dismantling, such as the suspension of LGBT-themed film announcements at the request of President Jair Bolsonaro and cancellations of theater plays.

The counter-attack? The group will select artistic projects to perform during their parade and provide financing of R$ 5,000 for each chosen group.

The Confraria do Pasmado, which parades through the streets of Pinheiros, launched a manifesto. In it, the group calls the video published by the Federal Government's then Special Secretary for Culture, Roberto Alvim, disgraceful. In the video, the then-minister used a speech and aesthetics that copied Nazi Minister Joseph Goebbels. He was dismissed after the video was published.

But on the cord, he continues, "there is no possible silence in the face of fascism". That is why the theme of this 2020: "Anarcotropicalism in the Carnival of dystopia".

"Amazing! Faced with flat land, globalism, communist threat, the return of AI-5, censorship, and all the dystopian madness uttered by those in power, Carnival feels obliged to be the 'sensible side' of history this year ", the group said.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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