Carnival samba group has its say


A Brazilian samba group struck back at a decision banning its use of a float depicting the Holocaust by parading today in Rio's carnival with a float loaded with gagged men and women.

"You don't build the future by burying the past," read a huge banner on the float that the Viradouro group was forced to change after a Jewish group won a judge's order preventing the float from being piled with mannequins of naked Holocaust victims and a dancing Adolf Hitler.

While trying to make a statement for freedom of expression with the altered display, Viradouro also drove home its carnival theme, "It Gives You Goosebumps," with samba dancers wearing electric chairs or dressed as cockroaches. The float paraded through Rio's streets early today.

"No wants to or should bury the past," said Sergio Widder, Latin America representative for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an international Jewish human rights group. "In fact, if there is one thing that the Jewish community is renown for is its refusal to bury the past."

Widder said by telephone the group's position was never in favor of censorship, but was a "matter of protesting the banalization and trivialization of the Holocaust."

In a frenzy of parading that started at night and didn't end until dawn, a nearly nude Brazilian woman who hopes to set a record for plastic surgeries danced before thundering drummers in a tribute to the first Japanese immigration to Brazil 100 years ago.

The 36-year-old star of the Porto da Pedra samba group, Angela Bismarchi &

who had her eyelids surgically altered to look more Japanese &

danced with thousands of companions decked out in multicolored costumes as geishas, sushi chefs, samurai fighters. In the shadow of a golden pagoda float, rotating Hello Kitty dolls opened to expose fur-lined shells with scantily clad Brazilian women inside.

Bismarchi, wearing only silver body paint and a black-plumed headdress, had nylon wires implanted in her eyes a week ago to look more Japanese &

her 42nd cosmetic surgery, as she closes in on the Guinness World Record of 47 held by an American.

The parading goes into a second round tonight when the remaining six groups march and dance before a panel of judges in hopes of being named this year's champion.

"It's better than the Superbowl, the Superbowl belongs to America, Carnival belongs to the world," said 33-year-old Elsa Yu of Toronto.

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