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A group of emaciated people sway to the pulsating rhythm of samba in a trashy neighborhood where many homeless people addicted to crack live in the heart of Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil. They are members of the Bloco, a group or troupe called “Blocolandia,” which organizes the parade that has participated in all the carnivals since 2015 in Cracolandia, as the place is known to have the highest concentration of people with drug addiction, most of whom are in Brazil. megalopolis.

With a whistle in his mouth, Claudio Rogério, known as Claudinho, leads a group of percussionists who enjoy playing drums and tambourines in a unique carnival parade. Wearing a black hat on the back and a rosary around the neck, this 39-year-old man who lost two front teeth is very proud to participate in the procession of “Blocolandia.” percussion for drug addicts,” Claudinho told AFP, though he did not stop to emphasize: “We are not just drug addicts; we are intelligent people who love music.”

Although Claudinho is still a crack user, he no longer lives on the streets. Now he is at home, paid for by an official social program, after sleeping for a long time outside, among the garbage. “Blocolandia” feels like this man has returned to his childhood when he grew up in Vila Formosa, a neighborhood in the east of Sao Paulo known for its traditional samba schools, like the one he attended with his family.

A few meters from him during the parade can be seen the singer, MC Docinho, who interprets the lyrics with a full smile on his lips. The 33-year-old woman managed to stop using crack with effort, but he didn’t want to completely sever his ties to Cracolandia. “I’m clean; I know their value and their stories, and I really want to be there to continue this connection,” the mother of five confessed. But the neighborhood, where intense police operations are often carried out, remains under strict surveillance.

Agents with rifles within reach watched the procession, which did not move in the middle of the dancers’ performance. “Carnival is a good opportunity to break stigmas and show society that there are people who dance samba, who sing, who know how to invent lyrics, and that. There are other stories, explained Laura Shdior, a psychologist who came to participate in the event. “These are not the zombies that society thinks they are,” he concluded.fm-lg/mba/llu/arm

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