Carnival groups in several cities around Brazil have been taking the opportunity during parades and performances to make a statement against the Jair Bolsonaro administration.
In four days of street parties and celebrations, revelers were commonly seen wearing costumes mocking the campaign fraud scandal in which alleged dummy candidates – known as “laranjas” or “oranges” in Brazil – of the far-right president’s Social Liberal Party (PSL) could implicate family members and politicians close to Bolsonaro.
Others decided to take a different approach, actually holding signs attacking the president. A hashtag telling Bolsonaro to “shove it” was trending on Twitter during Carnival season, while large crowds chanted the words between songs while parading through Brazilian streets.
Crowds sang an updated version of a traditional marchinha time and again, changing the words to expose Bolsonaro’s alleged connections with militia groups in Rio de Janeiro.
Other groups also took to the streets to celebrate while also demanding the release of ex-president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who is serving a prison sentence in Curitiba since April 2018, even though his conviction is still pending appeal.
In the state of Minas Gerais, the organizers of a Carnival group reported that the police ordered them to stop making political statements during their parade after they started to sing “Bolsonaro never again.”
Major Flávio Santiago, a spokesman for the Minas Gerais military police, has denied any claims that law enforcement agents threatened the group, but confirmed that they ordered them to refrain from making political statements, as it could lead to “huge fights.” No incidents were reported during their performance.
After these claims by Carnival goers, the public defender’s office asked law enforcement officers “to refrain from detaining any individuals or instructing them regarding the content of their political statements,” as that could be considered “obnoxious, illegal, unconstitutional institutional censorship,” given that the police are not allowed to “restrain free thinking, which obviously includes political discourse.”
Not only orange clothes alluding to the PSL dummy candidates scandal were very popular this Carnival season in Brazil, but also costumes making reference to Fabricio Queiroz, a former aide of the president’s son Flávio Bolsonaro who is being probed for illegal banking transactions and has alleged ties to Rio de Janeiro paramilitary groups implicated in the killing of councilwoman and black activist Marielle Franco.
Edition: Tayguara Ribeiro | Translated by Aline Scátola