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Brazzil - Behavior - February 2004

Brazil Survives Another Carnaval

While most Brazilians were already back to work throughout the
country, 600 thousand baianos (those from the state of Bahia)
went out to the streets on Wednesday to take part in the arrastão
(trawling) led by musician Carlinhos Brown. In Salvador, the
Carnaval folly was extended into Ash Wednesday's afternoon.

Rodolfo Espinoza

Beija-Flor, the Escola de Samba (Samba Club) that won Rio's Carnaval this year—it also got first place last year—bought 72,000 beer cans so the club members could celebrate the back to back victory. The main standard bearer of Beija Flor, Telma Lage, a 13-year veteran of Carnaval parades, was ebullient telling everybody that she never had a better Carnaval: "This was my best pageant ever. I had prepared myself working out for four months. This was very important to cope with the rain since my costume became three times as heavy."

The DJ orchestrating the celebration decided to tease Mangueira, the mother of all Escolas de Samba, which came in 3rd place, by asking the merrymakers: "Hey, has anybody seen Mangueira around?" People would answer with deafening shouts of "We're champions once again."

This was the eighth time the Nilópolis neighborhood's club won first place. Their theme was the Amazon and their samba had the longest of the names "Manôa - Manaus, Amazônia, Holy Land... that feeds the body, balances the sould and conveys peace." As other Escolas de Samba, Beija-Flor is financed by illegal money. Bicheiro (numbers game runner) Aniz Abrahão Diniz is the club's honor president.

Beija-Flor, with 4,000 men and women in costume, ended up winning against all odds, since it had to parade under heavy rain and with a broken float. Normally the damaged vehicle would have been enough to disqualify the samba club. At the end, however, the Escola won with 388.7 points out of a possible 400.

The second place, Unidos da Tijuca, received 387.9 points. Beija-Flor compensated for the mishaps with the enthusiasm of its sambists, since enthusiasm is one of the criteria used to judge the competition. Other factors are originality, percussion, music and costumes.

At the Borel favela, home for Unidos da Tijuca, the second-placed Escola, there was an air of improvisation while the club's directory was also trying to get some beer. They were caught by surprise when the winners were announced. The best position Tijuca had ever reached was 5th place, in 2001, when they presented a show on Brazil's history. This time, carnavalesco Paulo Barros won hearts and points with floats, costumes and music built around the theme "Life Creation."

According to Rio's Public Security Secretariat, more than 100 people died in the state during the Carnaval celebration, from 6 pm on Friday to 8 am on Wednesday. Public Security chief, Anthony Garotinho, announced that 87 people were murdered and another 30 died in traffic accidents. Tuesday night alone, there were 14 murders and nine wounded people. In the neighborhood of Olaria, in Rio's North Zone, the death of a 13-year-old boy during a Carnaval parade incited the populace who blamed the police for the crime and burned three buses in protest.

Off Rio

In São Paulo, called sometimes derisively as "samba's tomb" by Cariocas (those from Rio), the winning Escola de Samba was Mocidade Alegre, which was able to get the maximum number of points: 200. This was the fifth title for the Paulista club, whose first victory happened in 1971. They hadn't won a championship since 1980. To the surprise of many, Gaviões da Fiel, the champion of last year, came in last place and therefore was demoted from the ranking of the best Escolas, not being eligible to participate in the special group next Carnaval.

While most people were already back to work in the rest of the country, 600 thousand baianos (those from the state of Bahia) went out to the streets on Wednesday to take part in the arrastão (trawling) led by musicians Carlinhos Brown, Daniela Mercury and Ivete Sangalo. The arrastão started 9 in the morning by Mercury, who spent three hours singing her best-known tunes. Sangalo and Brown came afterwards extending Bahia's Carnaval folly to Ash Wednesday's afternoon.

Around 1.8 million people—120,000 of them tourists—took part in Salvador's Carnaval, according to Emtursa (Empresa de Turismo de Salvador—Salvador Tourism Agency).

Rio Carnaval Results:

Place _ Escola de Samba (Points)

1 - Beija-Flor (388,7)
2 - Unidos da Tijuca (387,9)
3 - Mangueira (387,9)
4 - Viradouro (386,9)
5 - Imperatriz Leopoldinense (386,5)
6 - Salgueiro (386,2)
7 - Portela (384,9)
8 - Mocidade Independente de Padre Miguel (381,2)
9 - Império Serrano (380,9)
10 - Grande Rio (380,5)
11 - Porto da Pedra (376,7)
12 - Tradição (372,9)
13 - Caprichosos de Pilares (368,9)
14 - São Clemente (367,8)

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