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Brazilians dancing away troubles at Carnival parties

Jamaica Gleaner / SAO PAULO (AP):

Amid a lacklustre economy, a massive corruption investigation and increasing political polarisation, Brazilians let off steam yesterday during the first full day of Carnival, a holiday long considered a safety valve for social and political tensions.

Known for elaborate or skimpy costumes and intense samba competitions, Carnival celebrations also frequently take on serious subjects.

This year, for instance, women’s groups are highlighting the sexual harassment and unwelcome touching that many face during the celebrations and throughout the year on Brazil’s streets.

Others have called attention to housing shortages or are criticising politicians who have been accused of corruption.

But many see Carnival as a time to take a break from those weighty issues.

“Carnival transcends politics it’s (a celebration) of the Brazilian people,” said Hector Batelli, a 30-year-old lawyer, who yesterday was enjoying a Sao Paulo Carnival street party, known as a bloco. “So we put aside politics to have a party, to celebrate.”

Brazil has recently emerged from one of the worst recessions in its modern history, and the largest corruption investigation in Latin America has resulted in the prosecution and jailing of many of its business and political leaders, decimating its political class and undermining faith in its institutions.

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