Rio's carnival gets underway with dancing -- and politics Feb 09, 2018 0 499 12345 AFPRIO DE JANEIRORio de Janeiro's carnival officially kicks off today, but this year revellers have more on their minds than drinking, dancing and dressing up -- there's politics.Rei Momo, the genial carnival king with an entourage of headdress-wearing female samba dancers, officially opens the festivities that will climax in the epic Sambodromo parades Sunday and Monday nights. But it's not all smiles behind the scenes.This year, Mayor Marcelo Crivella cut carnival subsidies by half, citing dire finances as a justification.Critics counter that the carnival brings approximately $1 billion in tourism revenues. They say Crivella, a senior figure in Brazil's evangelical movement, simply disapproves of the raucous annual festival, which is rooted in Catholic culture.Last year, Crivella broke with tradition by failing to show up to the ceremony where he would have handed Rei Momo the symbolic key to the city. Crivella said his wife was not feeling well. But he also kept away from the Sambodromo parades, a fixture for mayors every year since the purpose-built stadium was inaugurated in 1984.It remains a mystery whether Crivella will do the honors with Rei Momo or set foot in the Sambodromo when the festivities start on Sunday.Anger against the mayor is palpable at huge amateur street parties known as"blocos,"where ordinary people dress up and party."Out with Crivella"was the slogan of T-shirts at the big Sympathy is almost love"bloco"on Saturday.The Sambodromo parades could give opponents an even bigger stage."In evangelical doctrine, the carnival is the devil's own party. But while an evangelical can think this, a mayor of Rio cannot,"Leandro Vieira, director of Mangueira, one of the top samba schools, told AFP.Crivella isn't the only target for carnival goers. Brazil -- and Rio in particular -- faces a toxic mix of corruption, political division and violent crime, so there's plenty to poke fun at.At the"blocos,"costumes this year include people dressed as suitcases stuffed with stolen money. Some will dress up as Bitcoins.The exact content of the Sambodromo parades remains secret up to the last minute, but another big samba school, Beija Flor, says it will be inspired by the idea of a Frankenstein monster taking over the country with corruption and intolerance.Paraiso de Tuiuti, another big competitor, will explore slavery, racism and workers rights, closing its parade with a float depicting a vampire -- an allusion to current centre-right President Michel Temer. POST A COMMENT RELATED ARTICLES Bipartisan agreement could still face blowback in the House Feb 09, 2018 0 277 Cuba grants visa to senior US diplomat to lead Havana embassy Feb 09, 2018 0 363 Top Trump aide quits after battery of allegations Feb 09, 2018 0 675 Russia meddled in US election: George W Bush REUTERS ABU DHABI Former US president George W Bush accused Russia on Thursday of meddling in the US 2016 presidential election, calling Russian President Vladimir Putin a"brilliant tactician". Bush, interviewed on .. Canadian PM reiterates on NAFTA: no deal 'better'than bad deal AFP CHICAGO CANADA'S Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated on Wednesday during a US visit that he is willing to walk away from the North American Free Trade Agreement if renegotiation fails to produce a deal he can .. Canadian sub makes first trip to Asia-Pacific in 50 years OTTAWA A Canadian submarine has crossed the Pacific to patrol off the Asian coast for the first time in nearly 50 years, the navy said on Thursday, amid heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear weapons .. Venezuela presidential vote set for April 22 CARACAS Venezuela's electoral council has set April 22 as the date for a controversial presidential election, which the opposition accuses President Nicolas Maduro of using to engineer a second term for himself. ..