The death of a samba school official highlights links between Carnival and Rio’s criminal world.
To understand the Rio samba schools, you have to understand where the schools come from — poor, marginal communities, mostly in the favelas, or shantytowns, of the city. The schools’ annual displays cost millions of dollars — a combustible mix of money and poverty, says Aydano Motta, a journalist and author who has written extensively about Rio’s samba schools.
"No one cares about these communities and the schools outside of Carnival," Motta says. "The communities lack sanitation, infrastructure … and there is a criminal underworld that operates there."