Rio’s samba parade, the highlight of the pre-Lenten Carnaval, is a hard-fought competition among the city’s 14 top samba groups, which present 80-minute parades featuring thousands of costumed dancers, drummers and singers. The parades can cost some $2 million each.
Victory at the competition is an honor that brings a trophy and the possibility of lucrative sponsorships, but no cash.
Winner Vila Isabel’s parade calling for unity among the people of Latin America, titled "I’m Mad About You America," was sponsored largely by the Venezuelan government oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA.
A panel of 40 judges examined everything from music and lyrics to how evenly the paraders flowed through the half-mile Sambadrome stadium, and how much enthusiasm they generated among the 70,000 spectators.
Presidential candidate for opposition Primero Justicia party Julio Borges branded as an outrage a series of donations Hugo Chavez’ administration has made to other governments in the region, rather than investing state monies in Venezuela.
Borges made reference specifically to state-run oil holding PDVSA’s donation of US$ 1 million to Brazilian samba school Vila Isabel.
"In Rio de Janeiro, Vila Isabel samba school was given "a little gift" of US$ 1 million for a parade that should not be a priority for any serious government.
Obviously, the government continues to waste our money to post Pharaonic banners at the Sambadrome and pay advertisements in Portuguese language in (regional TV network) Telesur."
"The worst thing here is the fact that Chavez’ gifts exceeded US$ 16 billion in 2005."
Borges also rejected the use of Bolívar’s image in Vila Isabel samba school float this year in Rio de Janeiro Carnaval parade.
"We have to put up with Bolivar’s image being used inappropriately in a Carnaval parade. Bolivar’s image should rather be honored," Borges added.
Mercopress – www.mercopress.com