Over a million people took to the streets in Brazil’s cities of Rio de Janeiro and the north-eastern capitals of Salvador and Recife, as the country entered into full-on party mode.
Any worries posed by the mosquito-borne Zika virus appeared to take second place, as street processions and huge big-budget parades moved into their second day of festivities over the weekend.
Brazilian health officials continue to grapple with an outbreak that may have infected as many as 1.5 million people and could be linked to serious health conditions in more than 4,000 infants and unborn children, the Guardian reports.
“It’s one more thing to worry about,” said Juliana Araujo, a 48-year-old teacher at a street party in Rio de Janeiro. Brazil’s other problems including impeachment proceedings against current President Dilma Rouseff, economic recession and soaring unemployment rates appeared to take a back seat.
Pausing the party
Yet some Brazilian cities have been forced to cancel carnival proceedings this year.
“I decided not to go ahead with carnival,” explained the Mayor of Paulínia José Pavan Júnior, a small municipality several hours from São Paulo and home to the main refinery for state oil firm Petrobras.
Petrobras’ cuts and links to a nation-wide corruption scandal have seen the firm reduce it’s budget for carnival. Pavan Júnior has also faced an unforeseen cut, as the municipality will no longer be financed by the $37 million it used to receive annually from the oil giant.
“I’m very sad to have to stop this event, the whole of Brazil is partying, it’s part of our culture.” he told BBC Mundo.
Pavan Júnior is not the only mayor cancelling carnival, in fact across the country increasing municipalities are faced by budget cuts and slashes in funding.
“It truly shows the historic vision and importance that carnival plays for Brazil’s culture and economy,” historian Luiz Antonio Simas commented, a specialist in Brazil’s Rio carnival.
It’s a similar story in the city of Cássia, in the state of Minas Gerais. Carnival costs for the previous year were around $38,000 according to the council.
“Here in the region there’s no carnival, it’s all been cancelled. The people understand. We are living through a crisis and we don’t have enough money to party.” Mayor Rémulo Carvalho Pinto commented.
But local events planner Moises Farah has decided to go ahead and invest $75,000 of his own money in a large-scale event.
“I’m paying out of my own pocket,” he added.
“I’m passionate about carnival and won’t let this culture die.”
One thing’s for certain, neither mosquitos nor a lack of funding are going to stop Brazil from celebrating this February.
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