Rio de Janeiro

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Rio de Janeiro is delaying its annual Carnival parade for the first time in a century
Viradouro parade during the 2020 Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro
Viradouro parade during the 2020 Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro Credit: Raphael David | Riotur

Rio de Janeiro delayed its annual Carnival parade, that would take place in February 2021, as Brazil continues to face the Covid-19 pandemic. The League of Samba Schools (LIESA) announced that the spread of the coronavirus has made it impossible to safely hold the parades, and it is studying the possibility of holding the parade on another date.

Jorge Castanheira, the president of LIESA, said Thursday: "We only imagined the parade with a vaccine. Failing to get a vaccine or action plan that will guarantee safety for everyone by mid-September, it will be difficult to present in the current mold. After that, it may not be possible to present the carnival as it is known today. In today's condition it is ethically unlikely to have the parade."

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Court removes Governor of Rio de Janeiro Witzel from office for suspected irregularities
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel Credit: Philippe Lima

The Brazilian Superior Court of Justice (STJ) determined Friday the immediate removal of Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel from the post due to irregularities in health contracts. Witzel is also prohibited access to state government facilities and his communication with officials and use of services.

The governor and eight other people, including the First Lady Helena Witzel, were also denounced by the Attorney General's Office for corruption.

Witzel tweeted "The defence of Governor Wilson Witzel receives with great surprise the decision to step down, taken in a monocratic manner and with such seriousness. The lawyers are awaiting access to the content of the decision to take the appropriate measures."

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Rio de Janeiro cancels New Year's Eve party
Rio de Janeiro cancels New Year's Eve party
Credit: Fernando Maia | Riotur

The Rio Janeiro government announced Saturday that the New Year's Eve party in the city is canceled because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement was made by Riotur, a tourism company for the city. In 2019, 2.9 million people attended the party in Copacabana beach.

Riotur informed that the celebration "is not feasible in this pandemic scenario, without the existence of a vaccine". In addition, the municipal government "continues to focus efforts to save lives and control the pandemic".

Technology • Internet & Web
Uber launches grocery delivery in Latin America and Canada
Uber Eats
Uber Eats Credit: Uber

Uber announced on Tuesday the launch of an app-based grocery service in 19 cities in Latin American and Canadian cities. The initiative is a partnership with Cornershop, a Chilean online grocery provider that Uber has held a majority stake in since October 2019.

Customers in eleven Brazilian cities, including Belo Horizonte, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, four Chilean cities, Colombia’s Bogota, Peru’s Lima and Canada’s Montreal and Toronto will be able to order groceries through the Uber Eats app. And starting later this month, grocery delivery will be available in Miami, FL and Dallas, TX.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil reports 65,000 Covid-19 related deaths
Sunset over Rio de Janeiro
Sunset over Rio de Janeiro Credit:ín Diaz

According to a release by the country's health ministry, over 65,000 people have died from the novel Coronavirus in Brazil. After reporting another 20,229 new Covid-19 cases, the total number of cases surpasses 1,6 million. Despite rising numbers, bars and restaurants in Rio de Janeiro have reopened over the weekend.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Jair Bolsonaro sanctions law about mandatory mask usage in public. Shops, churches and schools are excluded.
Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro Credit: Marcos Corrêa/PR

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has sanctioned a law making mask usage mandatory in public spaces, but he has vetoed their use in schools, churches and shops. Bolsonaro also vetoed articles requiring the free distribution of masks to the population and a campaign to explain why masks should be used.

Marcelo Freixo, a representative from Rio de Janeiro, tweeted: "He cancelled the mandatory use of masks in schools, shops and temples. And it also removed the duty of the public power to provide it to the poorest. We will overturn this criminal decision in Congress!"

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil is close to a deal to produce Oxford Covid-19 vaccine
Brazil is close to a deal to produce Oxford Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Creative Commons CC0 Waiver)

Brazilian interim Health Minister Eduardo Pazuello said Brazil is close to signing a contract to produce a trial vaccine developed by the Oxford University and supported by AstraZeneca.

The country started human clinical trials for the potential vaccine this weekend with 3,000 people in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, becoming the first country outside the United Kingdom to test the vaccine.

Oxford researchers expect to launch the vaccine by year-end.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Rio de Janeiro gangs are pushing medication and supplies to their communities
View from Rocinha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro
View from Rocinha, a favela in Rio de Janeiro Credit: Rasmus Bang

CNN reports that the gangs in the Rio de Janeiro's favelas implemented a system to provide hand sanitiser, medicine and cash handouts to a population with no access to the Brazilian welfare system.

"Doctors from the community are helping the sick people voluntarily," a gang member said. "The people who have money can get assistance. The ones who haven't just can't.".

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Rio Janeiro State Governor to face impeachment inquiry
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel Credit: Carlos Magno

The Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro (Alerj) voted today favourably to initiate impeachment proceedings against right-wing Governor Wilson Witzel. Before today's vote the Assembly had 12 distinct impeachment petitions, for the process all of them will be combined.

A few weeks ago Brazilian federal police raided the residences of the Governor, under the allegation Witzel and his wife Helena led a sprawling criminal operation in which her law firm was used to receive payment from a company that won state coronavirus contracts.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil's Federal Police searches Rio de Janeiro governor's residence
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel
Rio de Janeiro Governor Wilson Witzel Credit: Eliane Carvalho

Brazil's Federal Police searched the official residence of Rio de Janeiro state Governor Wilson Witzel today as part of an investigation into the embezzlement of public resources in the state’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

A police statement said Federal Police were serving 12 search and seizure warrants, but no arrest orders were issued.

Witzel denied any wrongdoing and said in a statement he would cooperate with authorities. He also accused the federal government of interfering in the case.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil's Supreme Court blocks Bolsonaro decision to expel Venezuelan diplomats
Justice Luis Roberto Barroso
Justice Luis Roberto Barroso Credit: Fellipe Sampaio /SCO/STF (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

Justice Luis Roberto Barroso issued an injunction on Saturday suspending for 10 days a decision by Brazil's President Jair Bolsonaro to expel Venezuela's 30 diplomats and consular staff.

Barroso said the immediate ejection of the diplomats in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic countered humanitarian principles. The consular personnel is based in the cities of Brasilia, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, Belem, and Boa Vista.

Brazilian soccer stadiums converted into hospitals

Rio de Janeiro's Maracanã and São Paulo's Pacaembu stadiums are being converted into field hospitals to increase the number of available beds to tackle the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Regional News • Americas • Brazil
Brazil gangs declare strict curfews over favelas to slow corona virus from spreading

With Brazil’s coronavirus death toll rising to 46, gang members in the Cidade de Deus (City of God) favela in western Rio order residents to remain indoors after 8pm. The gang uses loudspeakers broadcasting an alert: “Anyone found messing or walking around outside will be punished.” The gangs of other favelas are following this principle and threaten the 2mio favela-residents to remain at home during the crisis.