Rio’s annual carnival kicked off in a riot of colour last night as dancers took to the streets in skimpy outfits.
The carnival is a regular highlight in the Brazilian calendar, as a sea of Brazilian babes adorned with sequins, feathers and glitter, take to the city’s streets.
It’s notable for the exuberant dress of its dancers, drawn from Rio de Janeiro’s 200 or so samba schools, and the sheer number of elaborate floats.
One of the biggest samba schools, Mangueira, is theming its performance around the story of a messiah born in the favela – Rio’s slums – who stands up to “prophets of intolerance”.
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Often known for elaborate and skimpy costumes, carnival celebrations also frequently take on serious subjects.
Behind the glittery costumes and outlandish head-dresses, there was a message of resistance against right-wing populist president Jair Bolsanaro.
Last year’s carnival week went badly for Bolsanaro after he tweeted a sexually explicit video to his three-and-a-half million followers.
The clip – reportedly filmed during a carnival event in São Paulo – showed a gentleman urinating on another man who was pleasuring himself.
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Responding to criticism at the time, the right-wing president said: “I don’t feel comfortable showing it, but we have to expose the truth so the population can be aware and always set their priorities. This is what many street carnival groups have become in Brazil."
He’ll be hoping for a quieter one this year.
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Over his first year in office Bolsanaro has polarised the normally tolerant Brazilian society with a number of inflammatory statements about women, black people, homosexuals, and the country’s indigenous people.
He has also threatened the country’s criminals that they will “die like cockroaches on the street” after he relaxes legal controls on the police.
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After a senator drove a digger at a picket line manned by striking police officers, Bolsonaro has mobilised army and national guard troops to keep order in the country.
He has also attacked the state prosecutors leading an investigation into allegations that his son was involved in money laundering and misuse of public funds.
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