RIO DE JANEIRO – Cidade de Deus (City of God), a Rio de Janeiro “favela” – or shantytown – made famous by a 2002 movie of the same name that tells the story of drug dealers and their turf wars, is preparing to celebrate Carnival.
Thousands of local residents are fans of the “Abusados,” the foremost troupe of “bate-bolas” (clowns), and the star of a carnival contrasting with the one celebrated at the Rio Sambadrome.
This year’s troupe is comprised of 80 men, 75 women and 35 children clad in scary masks, colorful outfits, eye-catching long sleeve jackets, ample skirts, foam vests with glittery Indiana Jones and Cleopatra imagery and equipped with plastic balls that the troupe members constantly bounce on the ground, producing a deafening noise.
“We will have fun in peace and enjoy the Carnival,” said Abusados founder Billy Souza, as his group prepared for their 20th annual parade early on Saturday.
Tensions have intensified following the recent arrest of the neighborhood drug lord as the four bate-bolas groups in Cidade de Deus get ready for the yearly celebration.
There are no tourists or even police to be seen in Karate, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the slums, where violence is still going strong since the release of “Cidade de Deus” in 2002.