Carnival is a celebration that takes on political contours due to its intrinsic relationship with the right to the city and all the guarantees that this encompasses: right to mobility, free association and demonstration, access to culture, use of public space, public security, among others. others. This is the opinion of Rodrigo Iacovini, executive director of the Pólis Institute and member of the National Council of Cities and Municipal Council for Urban Policy.
The party also deepens collective and emotional relationships with the city by bringing together different people in a public space with the aim of celebrating a festive date. In this context of realizing rights in the midst of a collective space, Iacovini states that when we talk about Carnival, what is at stake is “a huge set of rights that we are transforming into reality. A set that is coming out of the cold pages of our Federal Constitution for a revelry in the street.”
Rodrigo Iacovini is executive director of the Pólis Institute, coordinator of the Citizenship School and National Advisor for Cities and Municipal Urban Policy / Personal collection
“Much more than the right to leisure and the right to occupy public space, it is the right to subvert everyday reality, because we dress up, we experience other people, we live other ideas, other desires . Carnival is revolutionary in this sense”, stated the director of Pólis in an interview with Brazil in fact.
Check the interview in full:
Brasil de Fato: How does this Carnival moment of occupying the streets relate to the idea of the right to the city?
Rodrigo Iacovini: The right to the city is based on the assumption that we all build the city. Me, you, all the revelers who are on the street, when we go to the supermarket, when we leave the house to work, when we build our house, when we take the bus.
There is no city without people. And one of the coolest moments when we build the city is precisely when we enjoy Carnival. We are building a cultural and emotional dimension of the city. So, playing is part of the right to the city, and Carnival is part of that.
It is part of the city’s right to occupy the street with music, with a party where we interact both with people we already know and with people we don’t even know. This means that we have stronger emotional ties with the city. When social cohesion also improves, we improve trust in each other. We improve the affection we feel for other people, and this has a positive impact on society and the city itself.
So, that’s why the link between the right to the city and Carnival is so strong, because it precisely reinforces our sense of belonging to the city. It reinforces our sense of responsibility towards the city. It makes public space a place of enjoyment, a place to be, to enjoy.
Not just that place you walk quickly when you want to get to work. It’s not just that place where you catch a crowded bus. It is also the place for parties, meetings, music, dancing. We end up interacting with various dimensions of the city during Carnival, but in a superpositive way, one of power and not denial, lack and violation, which is what we usually face in everyday life. That’s why Carnival is so important for thinking about the right to the city.
In this aspect, is Carnival much more than the right to leisure?
Exactly. Carnival is much more than the right to leisure. It is a Brazilian cultural reference. Every Brazilian has heard of Carnival. There are people who will say they don’t like Carnival. There are people who will say they enjoy Carnival. But everyone has heard of Carnival. Everyone knows what Carnival is. It is a Brazilian cultural and material reference and that is why it is even protected by our Federal Constitution.
It is also the right to mobility. That’s why we have to think that the blocks have the right to move through public space, and if the public authorities try to organize and create an infrastructure in some way, it is very important not to restrict it, because at the end of the day it is the right to go and come, is the right of association.
We have a political right in our Constitution, which is the right to free association. This is often interpreted as the right to form a company or association. But the right to association is the right to encourage social movement, such as forming a Carnival group. This is also a right to free association.
So, when we are talking about Carnival, we are talking about a huge set of rights that we are transforming into reality. A group that is emerging from the cold pages of our Federal Constitution for revelry in the streets.
Much more than the right to leisure and the right to occupy public space, it is the right to subvert everyday reality, because we dress up, we experience other people, we live other ideas, other desires. Carnival is revolutionary in this sense.
It’s this possibility of having someone else and, at the same time, being someone else, meeting other people and interacting socially. It is extremely important for Brazilian social cohesion. It’s no wonder we spend the whole year waiting for Carnival.
We are seeing in São Paulo, the City Hall restricting the opening hours of the blocks, including dispersing them with the use of police forces. We also have plainclothes police officers in the crowd. On the other hand, blocks claim that there is no necessary infrastructure in terms of security, cleaning and other basic points. How do you observe this performance of public authorities?
The actions of the municipal public authorities here in São Paulo have gone precisely against the implementation of rights raised by Carnival. I was talking about how Carnival is this tangle of rights: from the right to leisure, to mobility, to occupying space, to generating income. But the city hall’s actions have unfortunately been violating these rights by trying to restrict cultural event times and failing to provide the necessary infrastructure.
The City Hall, in fact, is failing to comply with its constitutional duty to promote the right to culture, the right to leisure and, in fact, it is also failing to comply with the constitutional mandate to preserve the right of people to have the right to come and go, freedom of association, the right to occupy the city, the right to the city of this population.
Unfortunately, São Paulo City Hall in recent years has acted to benefit and strengthen a discourse that is moralistic and restrictive about Carnival. The newspapers always report on Pinheiros residents who are uncomfortable with Carnival.
The majority of the population is in favor of Carnival and free cultural expression on the streets of the blocks. But, at the same time, these media outlets and City Hall reinforce this minority because this minority often enjoys greater economic power, with more direct political access to the public agents who make decisions.
And it is the role of public authorities to mediate and resolve these conflicts, creating, for example, a significant cleaning program after the blocks, right?
Obvious. It is the City Hall’s duty to promote this cleaning policy, providing bathroom infrastructure, for example. This week, the [Guilherme] Boulos told revelers to occupy the chemical toilet and not urinate in the street. But this reinforces a criminalizing discourse on the part of the reveler. Most of the time, the reveler would prefer to use a bathroom, but there is no one nearby, there is a huge queue or in deplorable conditions of use, which happens as a result of the government’s role in providing adequate infrastructure not being fulfilled.
People also have difficulty understanding that living in a city means living with a conflict between what you want and what your neighbor wants or needs. And you need to find ways to solve this, which is not a win, someone else loses, but a win-win. And this is also something that should be the responsibility of public power, how this public sphere of discussion and mediation is constructed between everyone involved.
Unfortunately, this is something that the municipal authorities do little about. The management has some councils and participatory spaces, but they are very weakened. I myself am an advisor to the Municipal Urban Policy Council and I can tell you that it is a council that has been trampled on by the municipal management itself. There aren’t many city debates that should be held. When it contributes and points out important measures, the municipal public authorities ignore it.
I really wanted São Paulo’s municipal public authorities to look more, for example, at what Carnival is like in Olinda, what Carnival is like in Salvador or what Carnival is like in Rio de Janeiro. We have so much to learn from these other cities.
And there is economic power that affects this reality, making the right to the city even more hostile. We see, for example, the very significant influence of large companies on the organization of Carnival, determining what can be sold, where and how. How do you see this?
Carnival is also a significant economic force. We have estimates that Carnival in São Paulo, each year, generates billions of reais in the city’s economy. So this shows how economically important it is. The problem is that when it gains this level of economic importance and expression, it arouses the interest of economic sectors that can profit. Sectors that often finance the campaigns of politicians, such as mayors, governors, presidents, councilors, deputies, senators.
As a result, these economic sectors obtain regulations that are favorable to them. As has often been the case, for example, in cases where breweries at carnivals gain monopolies in order to sell their products. If, on the one hand, these companies provide some sponsorship, they often profit more than they invested in sponsorship, support and encouragement. Obviously, no one in the corporate world throws money in the trash.
And, often, what the municipal public authorities have done is precisely to promote regulations that generate this market reserve for some economic sectors and some business groups. This is a business-oriented Carnival model. Some models are more restrictive and others are more permeable, permissive and open, which do not restrict sales to certain groups, do not restrict sales to street vendors who are not accredited. Ultimately, it allows greater permeability, because it understands that Carnival has to be democratic, plural, open.
When it starts to restrict, standardize, regulate, it gradually depletes the power of the festivities. And this is what has been happening in São Paulo.
Editing: Thalita Pires
This news article has been translated from the original language to English by WorldsNewsNow.com.
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