A Carnival of law and order

The following is most of an article (PT) I translated from the blog Direitos Urbanos: Recife, regarding the implementation of a curfew (PT) of 2AM during this year’s Carnival (something I didn’t even know about).

Post-script: Having a moment to read the rest of the article on the curfew, from G1, I see that the 2AM limit is for all locations except Marco Zero, and that across the board, the restriction refers to official events and blocos ending by that time and not the ability to stay out all night, on the streets, partying.


“It’s clear that this debate can be seen from another perspective: the impact on the rights to the city. It might not seem that way, but the limits imposed by the city government make for a very serious discussion regarding the direction of our city. What’s really at stake is the logic of law and order in detriment of cultural manifestations. It’s a conflict between the logic of the confined city, that closes in on itself, and of a city that allows its own reinvention. 

We live in an agressive city, in every sense. From the Moura Debeux buildings, surrounding our city, to the enraged cars, speeding down our streets; from the sidewalks full of potholes and wheelchair users to the bridges where one is constantly threatened by the fear of being assaulted; from the crowded malls – full of artificiality; the empty plazas – full of trees. In all of these places, “the human element is flattened”, as they say in one of those films about the Pernambucan capital.

Carnival is one of the few spaces – however, symbolic lines of isolation do exist – where the city meets itself. A resident of Casa Forte bumps into a resident of Peixinhos in the middle of Marco Zero. A free and democratic Carnival allows for the libertation of social tensions. It’s not for nothing that they say that Salvador’s Carnival, full of isolated blocos – and which we see as our opposite – is one of the most violent ones in the country.

The curfew imposed by the Recife government, allied to the prohibition of traditional blocos in public markets, impacts the city’s dynamic, principally, in a city like Recife that’s made up of, at least during Carnival, spaces of open socialization. As a result, there could be a rebound created from the measure, that is, a potentiating effect on private spaces – whether intentional or not: famous private parties that won’t have limits on time.

In this way, the subject deserves a small aside. These private parties, or a good amount of them, reflect a logic of a city marked by profound unequality. The incessant search for exclusive spaces, in the end, is a search for differentiated spaces, not for mixing, but for the elite. It’s the logic of private cities, of neofeudal castles, of closed off apartment complexes, reverberating in the dynamic of spaces created for fun, leisure and culture. This logic perhaps symbolizes segregation and fragmentation, typical of the exclusionary conception of a city.

This is the model that seems to have been created for our city: economic power, allied to the diverse spheres of the State, dictating the rules of the city’s occupation, creating spaces of exclusion and kicking out the communities at the center – the center of power and of the city. 

However, the picture can be reformulated. Recife is living a fertile moment of discussions about urban spaces. In this way, a contrarian effect can come about: an increase in the fight, in our city, for the reinvention of urban space during Carnival as well.  These limitations imposed by the public power, on the eve of the celebration, can boost new and creative forms of reinvention during Carnival. Like in Rio, where the blocos are coming out in defiance of city hall, independent of receiving authorization, but with forewarning (moreover, the only exact requirement demanded by the Constitution), the parties can happen spontaneously on the streets, with drums, sounds and any other idea that comes from the minds of the revelers.

We can’t let our Carnival be like our governors: clumsy, dressed in dark suits, having whiskey in some bar in Boa Viagem. It’s about hoping that the creativity of our people, which have never shown their limits, takes over the streets of the ‘navel of the world’ and shows that Carnival is this way: anarchistic, that it won’t be arbitrarily dominated or domesticated by the public power. To rescue the beauty and levity of Carnival, way beyond the public power, is the main role of civil society.

Meanwhile, Mr. Mayor, Governor, members of the MPPE (Public Ministry of Pernambuco), secretary of Social Defense, Eduardo Galeano has a message for you:

“On the wall of a bar in Madrid, a sign advises: Singing is forbidden. On the wall of the Rio de Janeiro airport, a sign informs: Playing with the luggage carts is forbidden. Basically: There are still those that sing, there are still those that play.”


2 responses to “A Carnival of law and order

  1. Pingback: Carnival curfew lifted | Eyes On Recife·

  2. Pingback: Carnival curfew lifted | Salvacife·

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