While many of Rio de Janeiro’s samba schools have chosen direct attacks on politicians in this year’s carnival, one school has picked a topic whose tensions simmer beneath the surface. Unidos da Vila Isabel’s entry, sponsored by Nissan, saw elaborate tributes to inventors like Albert Einstein, Santos Dumont, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison sashay the length of the avenue late on Sunday night.
But the samba school’s theme touches on a growing disquiet far from the light-hearted fun that Carnival normally provides. Cuts to government investments in scientific research have left the academic community reeling, while others fear that this could have a knock-on effect on Brazil’s economy.
Federal budgets allow just 1 percent of the country’s GDP for science, compared to South Korea’s 4 percent and the European Union’s target of 3 percent. In Brazil’s case, previous economic growth meant that science saw a 700 percent growth over two decades, but its decision to cut funding as it emerges from recession could harm its growth.