Natal Brazil

Information about the city of Natal, in Brazil.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Carnival in Natal 2006

carnival in NatalCarnival in Natal is not big.
However, in 2006 Natal is making heavy investments to improve carnival in the city; the reason lies partly because carnival is a lucrative business, and partly because many people in Natal enjoy carnival.
So, we went about to see the carnival of Natal in 2006, and we liked it very much.
Carnival in Natal is still very far from the grandness of the largest Brazilian carnivals, like Recife, Rio or Salvador. However, in Natal, you can take your family to the carnival, feel safe, and have fun.
Read more about carnival in Natal 2006.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Pre-carnival in Natal

Officially, carnival goes from Saturday through Tuesday. In the days before carnival, there are some events called pre-carnival, which are a preparation for the real feast; in Rio, the pre-carnival starts a few days earlier; in Bahia, it starts a few weeks earlier.
Carnival in Natal is not very popular; I read somewhere that a few years ago there was a major incident involving a bus, which killed tens of people during carnival in the late 1980s, and that incident would have been the main reason for the weakening of carnival in the city (I will try to post more about this later).
However, like everywhere else in Brazil, there are people who enjoy and love carnival. These people try to maintain the traditions of old days and maintain carnival alive.
Tribuna published an article today about pre-carnival in Natal. Carnival lovers will meet in Petrópolis, in front of Confeitaria Ateneu, for a ball of masks. The event is free, not moved by $$$, but by true carnival lovers. Other events happen in the Petrópolis area, all organized by genuine carnival partiers. This is a traditional event, likely to happen again in 2007 and years to come.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Federal Police raids nightclub in Pipa, searching for drugs.

Pipa is known to be a cosmopolitan place, visited by young people from many countries. Pipa has one of the busiest nightlifes in Brazilian northeast.
Yesterday, the Federal Police raided a nightclub in Pipa (attention: the name of the nightclub is Calangos; DO NOT go to the website at www.pipa.c*m.br/calangos/ ; it looks like this site tries to install a virus or other malware).
According to the Federal Police officials, there were denounces that the use of drugs was being tolerated in that place. During the raid, five Brazilians and 29 foreigners were caught with small portions of marijuana and cocaine; following Brazilian legislation, the Brazilians and the foreigners who were holding their papers were filed and will respond in freedom (use of drugs is a contravention, not a crime, in Brazil; maximum penalty for this contravention is 2 years, and, in such cases, the offender may respond in freedom; traffic of drugs, OTOH, is an non-bailable crime); foreigners who didn't have papers may be deported.

The Federal Police said that one of the intentions of these raids is to prevent the spreading of rumors that Pipa is a free zone for drug users. Officials said that these raids will be repeated during carnival, both in Pipa and in Ponta Negra, the busiest beaches of Rio Grande do Norte.

Teachers of Natal to strike

Teachers who are employed by the municipality of Natal are at a strike.
They started the strike last Monday, Feb. 13th, when children were supposed to start the 2006 school year.
These teachers work with children of the elementary level (children aged 6 to 15 y.o.), which in Brazil comprises now 9 years (before a law was passed last year, the elementary level in Brazil had only 8 years).
According to this report by Tribuna do Norte, there are 800 teachers at strike, and about 58,000 students are being affected.
Teachers are asking for a raise in salary of 33%. According to the Teachers Union, a teacher with Doctorate who works for the Municipality is paid R$ 681,00 monthly (at current exchange rates, this is about US$ 300 monthly); still according to the Union, this is the same salary which is paid by the State of Rio Grande do Norte to a teacher without Doctorate.

Unfortunately, this only shows how little value Brazilians give to their teachers and to education in general. It is difficult to believe that these low salaries will attract motivated teachers, who in turn should stimulate children to study. Most middle class families (including mine) prefer to send their children to private schools, and stop caring about the quality of public education. A good private elementary school in Natal costs about R$ 300 monthly for tuition only; in Rio and São Paulo, it can easily reach R$ 1,000 monthly.

On the other hand, the main headline of Tribuna do Norte today reads: "Court of Justice to dismiss relatives". Until last year, Judges could appoint anyone (including relatives) to public offices called "trusting positions" (for example, many wives were appointed Secretaries by the respective husbands, under the argument that "I trust my wife, and she is a capable secretary"). Salaries for such positions were typically between R$ 2,000 and R$ 5,0000 (and higher at Federal level); the wife of a Judge gets paid 5 times more than a teacher.
It was necessary a decision by the National Council of Justice to prohibit this practice. Even so, many Judges appealed from the decision to the Supreme Court, arguing it was unconstitutional. Last week, the Supreme Court declared the decision was to be obeyed.
Tribuna do Norte says that 115 people will be dismissed today. Many Judges say that they are being treated with injustice!!

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