Brazilian carnival goers shun political masks


Rio de Janeiro (AFP)

Brazilian carnival goers are angry at their leaders and worried about the economy -- at least if pre-party mask purchases are anything to go by.

With corruption and an impeachment battle bringing lawmakers into ever lower repute, political-themed masks are being shunned, said Olga Gibert, owner of Condal, the country's oldest mask producer.

"People are disgusted with politics and no longer want politician masks," she told AFP at her facility on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. "King Kong and bin Laden are the most in demand."

With two weeks until carnival and its two nights of sparkling parades through Rio's Sambadrome, Gibert is still hoping that she'll turn a profit on masks of Senator Eduardo Cunha, a famously scheming politician who has pushed hardest for President Dilma Rousseff's impeachment.

Another topical mask is that of Newton Ishii, a Japanese-Brazilian federal police officer who has become prominent during arrests linked to the vast Operation Car Wash anti-corruption drive.

But with Brazil in steep recession and inflation running at more than 10 percent, the real worry for Gibert is that masks won't sell at all.

"It's the worst carnival I've seen. With the recession, orders have dried up and sales have fallen 30 percent from 2015," Gibert said.

Bizarrely, it's fake breasts, bottoms and pregnant tummies that sell for the lowest price and continue to sell well.

"I sell them for 4.5 reais (one euro), but shops resell them for nine reais. The most expensive masks are in latex and cost 50 reais (11 euro)," she said.