SAO PAULO – Some 50,000 biodegradable balloons on Friday colored the sky above Sao Paulo, Brazil’s most populous city, to bid farewell to a year of economic crisis and widespread unemployment.
The display was again organized by the Sao Paulo Business Association (ACSP), which for 24 years has launched balloons to see out the old year and welcome the new.
“It represents our wish that the balloons carry away our problems and bring us a better year. That’s what the event symbolizes and has already made it a tradition,” Marcelo Solimeo, an economist of the association, told EFE in a statement.
The year 2016 has been particularly rough for businesses in Brazil because of the steep drop in demand during the recession, in which South America’s largest country has been submerged.
Brazil ended 2015 with a contraction of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 3.8 percent and is expected to decline another 3.5 percent this year, which means two straight years ending in the red for the first time since 1930.
The economic crisis was particularly cruel in terms of unemployment, which reached a record 12.1 million in the three months between September and November this year, the equivalent of 11.9 percent of the economically active population.
“The year was difficult in all aspects – in the political, economic and social aspects – but the most merciless of all was the joblessness, which reached 12 million people out of work, and that is the chief consequence of all the mistakes that were made,” Solimeo said.
The idea of flying balloons in the air began in 1992, when some members of the association decided to release 100 balloons from the windows of a building. Years before, they threw pieces of paper out the windows, until it was noted that with the rain, it was obstructing sewers in the area.