Rio de Janeiro samba school Imperatriz Leopoldinense has received fierce criticism from Brazilian agribusiness associations for promoting a message in this year’s carnival parade they say presents an unfair portrayal of the sector.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (FEBRUARY 9, 2017) (REUTERS) – Rio de Janeiro samba school Imperatriz Leopoldinense has received fierce criticism from Brazilian agribusiness associations, for promoting a message in this year’s carnival parade they say presents an unfair portrayal of the sector.
The school’s theme this year is “Xingu – an outcry from the forest”, a celebration of Brazil’s indigenous culture, and a criticism of farming practices which harm these communities and the environment.
Sugar cane producing associations from the Piracicaba region released a statement on January 13, in which 10,000 producers opposed the school’s message, saying it lacked true knowledge of the importance of Brazilian agribusiness. The statement affirmed the sector was responsible for 22 percent of the nation’s GDP and 37 percent of jobs.
Director of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense school, Cahe Rodrigues, said the complaint had in actual fact helped the school to spread its message further.
“The theme has attracted the attention of people who previously were not bothered about carnival, and we ended up gaining strong allies by taking up a message like this one. Not long ago we were sought out and attacked by a segment of the agribusiness which misunderstood the school’s message. One phrase of the samba (song) talks about how we shouldn’t use agrochemicals, this is in the fourth verse, which talks of the chaos suffered by plants because of some bad men, that the use of agrochemical automatically contaminates water, forests, fish, and directly affects the lives of indigenous people,” said Rodrigues in an interview in the school’s sprawling warehouse where thousands of workers are rushing to finalise the carnival parade.
“I think a lot of people had not realised the strength of the lyrics, they knew that the school was going to talk about indigenous people but they had not listened to the samba and did not comprehend the dimension of the tribute. I think the (attacks by the) agribusiness ended up helping us to promote the strength of our carnival,” Rodrigues added.
President of the Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Luiz Pachecho Drumond, released a statement on the school’s website affirming that the theme and lyrics were intended to celebrate the rich contribution indigenous communities in the Xingu area have made to Brazilian culture, and to promote the need to respect biodiversity and nature.
Rodrigues further sought to change misconceptions regarding indigenous peoples in the current day.
“There are people that think that indigenous people go out in the streets with their bows and arrows to fight for their right, when the truth is that indigenous people, nowadays, study, they know the law and learnt that there exists a dialogue between the indigenous man and the white man, and that through dialogue and law, they are able to fight for their rights in a more peaceful way,” said Rodrigues.
Imperatriz, one of the 12 top samba schools which compete in Rio’s elite league finished in 6th place last year, and will take to the runway on Sunday, February 26.