One of Brazil’s most traditional samba schools – the popular associations that organise annual Carnival parades in the country – announced that the theme of its 2020 performance would be the story of Jesus taken to a Rio de Janeiro slum.
Estacao Primeira de Mangueira also announced its performance song, which alludes to the increasing police brutality and to the violence suffered by minorities in Brazil.
Written by the composers Manu da Cuica and Luiz Carlos Maximo, the song talks about a boy in a favela, or slum. He has a “black face, indigenous blood and the body of a woman” and is the son of an “unemployed carpenter” and of “Mary of Sorrows Brazil”.
The narrator of the song said the boy, who ages as the song progresses, struggles against oppression and can be met “where love finds no barriers”. In another part, the song says “Favela, get the vision/ There’s no future without sharing/ And no Messiah with a gun in his hand”, a possible allusion to President Jair Bolsonaro’s promises of loosening gun control legislation and of reducing punishment for police who kill suspected criminals. Bolsonaro’s middle name is Messias.
Another possible reference to Bolsonaro is the title of Mangueira’s parade theme, ‘The truth will set you free’, which was – with a slight difference in the Portuguese wording – one of Bolsonaro’s campaign slogans in 2018.