Brazil’s prolonged Carnaval weekend, which started on Friday and only ended at noon this Wednesday, along with its very close, almost essential, association with partying and drinking, has always been a nasty time on federal roadways.
And this year the country set a record. According to the highway police, they had counted 189 highway deaths up to midnight Tuesday (five days), compared to 143 last year for all of Carnaval (that is, all five and a half days). 2007, with 145 deaths, had been the worst year up to now.
On the fifth day of Operation Carnaval alone, the Federal Highway Police registered the deaths of 23 people on federal roads in the country, according to report released this Wednesday. From midnight Monday to midnight Tuesday there were 534 accidents, with 369 wounded.
During the five days of the operation, the number of accidents reached 3,563. Last year, during six days, there 3233 accidents. These numbers don’t include accidents in state and municipal roads.
On Monday, March 7, during a 24-hour period, the PRF had registered 410 accidents, 310 injuries and 37 deaths on the 66,000 kilometers of federal highways in Brazil.
Also on Monday, the police tested 5,867 drivers for drunken driving (Field Sobriety Tests are not used in Brazil, but breath testing is), arresting 85 people for DUI. On Tuesday, 6356 test were administered and 90 people were arrested for driving under the influence.
For the 14th time, the Vai-Vai samba school of São Paulo has been crowned champion of the city’s Carnaval parade. Vai-Vai is an old, traditional samba school with its headquarters in the Bela Vista neighborhood (formerly “Bexiga”) where it was founded 81 years ago.
The president of the “school,” Darly Silva, exclaimed: “This proves that people love samba and classical music,” referring to the parade theme of Vai-Vai (“The Music is the Winner”) that paid homage to the Brazilian pianist and conductor, João Carlos Martins, 71.
Martins has long been considered one of the world’s best interpreters of Bach piano music. However, he suffered a series of accidents that caused him to lose movement in his hands forcing him to take up conducting. But as the problems with his hands got worse, he was unable to hold a baton or turn the pages of a score, so he learned to conduct from memory.