SAO PAULO – Jair Bolsonaro, Freddie Mercury, the Incredible Hulk and even Vladimir Putin joined the traditional parade of giant puppets this Monday in the city of Olinda, scene of one of Brazil’s most iconic and historic Carnivals.
To the rhythm of a typical northeast Brazilian “frevo” orchestra, close to 100 towering figures representing singers, political leaders, soccer players and superheroes stood up to the rain and invaded the downtown district of this touristic city in Pernambuco state, known for its fine colonial architecture.
Several personalities are making their debut in this year’s Carnival, including Brazil’s far-right President Jair Bolsonaro and first lady Michelle Bolsonaro, whose effigies had raised certain doubts about whether they would finally be admitted to the parade with the other “guests” or not.
Since the partying kicked off several days ago to hail the arrival of Carnival, some people in the street parades have spoken out against the president, which caused concern about the safety of his “puppet” during the procession this Monday.
Nonetheless, the organizers confirmed the presence of the chief executive, and so maintained the tradition of parading the caricature of the current head of state, a position Bolsonaro has held since last Jan. 1.
Before the parade set off, the faces of the giant figures of the far-right leader and his wife were covered with sheets and guarded by several private security agents.
Bolsonaro was accompanied by the likenesses of two Cabinet members: former judge and now Justice Minister Sergio Moro, and the astronaut Marcos Pontes, head of the Science and Technology Ministry.
Also making his debut in 2019 is the Incredible Hulk. If the average weight of the giant puppets is around 20 kilos (44 lbs.), 10 more (22 more) are added to the green superhero of Marvel by his incredible muscles, so immense they leave tourists agape.
Accompanying him, among others, are Russian President Vladimir Putin wearing a severe black suit, while a few meters away is his US counterpart Donald Trump, who recently joined the list of personalities portrayed among these impressive effigies.
At the same time, Yoda the Jedi master and a sinister Darth Vader welcomed another charater from the “Star Wars” saga – Chewbacca, while Batman and Superman watch the Carnival revelers from the heights.
Outstanding in the musician category with his yellow jacket was Freddie Mercury, one of the oldest puppets, but which this year recovered a little stardom thanks to “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic about the leader of Queen, played by Rami Malek, who subsequently won an Oscar for Best Actor.
The giant puppets of Olinda are a European heritage that originated in a 15th century religious procession, a show that Brazil has adapted and mixed with its own roots up to the present day.
The first to ever sally into the streets of Olinda was the “Homem da Meia-Noite” (Midnight Man), which has enlivened the festivities since 1932 at this great party with its ironic angle.
Olinda is famous for being one of the best preserved colonial cities in Brazil. Its historic downtown area was declared a Historical and Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 1982 and is located some 15 kilometers (9 miles) from Recife, the regional capital.
Elsewhere in Brazil the Carnival parades continue, notably in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, where thousands of people dance in the streets without stopping despite the intermittent downpours.
The Sargento Pimenta block, one of the most traditional of the “Wonderful City,” mixes Brazilian rhythms with classic Beatles numbers, while in Sao Paulo some 30 blocks of revelers are parading today.