The winner of the 2019 Rio Carnival has a long history of association with drug dealers and bookmakers. Its current president is accused of receiving bribery money
When Estação Primeira de Mangueira entered the Sambadrome to pay homage to murdered city councilor Marielle Franco (PSol), the president of that association, state congressman Francisco Manoel de Carvalho, AKA Chiquinho da Mangueira (PSC), was at home. He has been under house arrest since January, after a decision taken by the president of the Superior Court of Justice, justice João Otávio de Noronha.
Before that, he had been in jail since November, accused of receiving R$ 3 million from bribery money in bank accounts is bank accounts belonging to himself, to his mother and to Mangueira. This is not the first accusation to be made against the traditional samba school, founded in 1928, winner of the 2019 edition of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival parade.
Ten years ago, the police found a secret passageway linking one of the school’s Sambadrome boxes to a house in the Mangueira favela –fugitive drug dealer Francisco Paulo Testas Monteiro, AKA Tuchinha, who headed the drug trafficking scheme in Mangueira Hill and was also one of the composers who wrote the samba performed by the school in the 2008 parade, would often pass through this corridor. After retiring from his criminal life, Tuchinha died in 2014, shot 13 times in Mangueira, in the Rio’s northern zone.
Mangueira was just one of the many samba schools who paid tribute to Marielle, who was killed almost one year ago, on March 14, 2018. Her widower marched with the school, while the councilwoman’s family took part in Vila Isabel’s performance, whose samba addressed the marks left by slavery on Brazil.
In São Paulo, Marielle’s sister and daughter paraded along with Vai-Vai, which displayed a mosaic with the picture of the Rio councilor. And Pérola Negra, the school which won the access group for the first division of the parade in São Paulo’s capital, displayed Marielle’s effigy on their last float. In addition to that, block parties and street parades all over the country demanded justice for her.
In Mangueira’s case, the chorus of the school’s samba, “Eu quero um Brasil que não está no retrato” (“I want a Brazil different from the one in the portrait”), says: “Brazil, now is the time to listen to the Marias, Mahins, Marielles, Malês”. However, the social criticism and the protest against the lack of information on those responsible for the murder of the councilwoman are coming from a school which is constantly being the target of accusations.
In 2012, for instance, the Rio de Janeiro state Prosecutor’s Office identified 14 fake invoices presented for the 2010 Carnival, totaling R$ 1.25 million, involving six schools, including Mangueira. The invoices were paid by dummy corporations or companies which were quickly shut down soon after the party.
In Rio, samba and crime have been walking hand in hand for decades. This relationship became stronger in 1984, after the foundation of the Rio de Janeiro Samba School League (LIESA). “The union of bookkeepers around a single entity would bring definitive consequences for the direction taken by the Rio Carnival,” writes historian Vinícius Ferreira Natal.
“From now one, the heads of the ‘jogo do bicho’ would dictate the rules of the parades and negotiate with the public authorities and businessmen, based on an idea of legality and officialty. They would now be recognized by the public authorities, and sit down with them to discuss the transfer of funds, without having to relinquish their activities, considered illegal before the state.”
Many leaders of samba schools have been accused of crimes. Aniz Abraão David, Beija-Flor de Nilópolis’ honorary president, for instance, has been arrested in 2007 and 2011, accused of ties with the ‘jogo do bicho’ (literally “animal game”, a gambling game popular in Brazil, similar to the numbers game common in NY and other US cities). His family has a strong political presence in Nilópolis.
Curiously, Beija-Flor won the 2018 edition of the Rio Carnival with a theme song criticizing corruption.
The presidents of Imperatriz Leopoldinense, Luizinho Drummond, and Grande Rio’s Hélio Ribeiro, have already been targeted by arrest warrants. Vila Isabel’s former president Wilson Vieira Alves is currently serving a 23-year sentence for smuggling, corruption, and conspiracy.
Success in the avenue
In the world of Carnival, Mangueira is extremely successful. Founded by a group of samba composers and singers which included Cartola and Carlos Cachaça, the school has 20 titles – only Portela, with 22, has won the parade more times. From 1949 to 2006, the school’s official singer was Jamelão.
While Chiquinho da Mangueira, elected in 2013 with the support of Alcione and Nelson Sargento, is answering to the justice system, the incumbent president is Aramis Santos. Chiquinho allegedly received the bribes from Sérgio de Castro Oliveira, AKA Serjão, former Rio de Janeiro governor Sérgio Cabral’s financial advisor. According to Serjão’s state’s evidence testimony, Chiquinho received a monthly allowance of R$ 20 thousand, used to settle the samba school’s account.
As well as receiving bribes, Chiquinho is accused by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPF) of exerting his influence on the appointment of 74 job openings in Rio de Janeiro’s department of motor vehicles. According to the MPF, these jobs were offered in exchange for votes favorable to the deputy, and those who were appointed by Chiquinho were campaigning for him.
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A vencedora do carnaval de 2019 tem longo histórico de vínculo com traficantes e bicheiros. Seu presidente atual é acusado de receber dinheiro de propina