The celebration of Brasilia’s 50th anniversary began Wednesday with a parade of Walt Disney characters that riled architect Oscar Niemeyer, the 102-year-old communist regarded as the “father” of the Brazilian capital.
Led by Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other well-known characters from the imagination of Disney and his collaborators some 500 artists and dancers on floats waved and performed for the adults and children gathered on the Ministries Esplanade, the heart of government power in Brasilia.
The population of the city created from scratch to replace Rio de Janeiro as Brazil’s capital turned out on the streets to celebrate the first 50 years since its founding on April 21, 1960, and at midday on Wednesday estimates were that some 400,000 people were jammed along the Esplanade.
One of the Disney characters who got the most applause at the parade was Zé Carioca, a parrot ostensibly from Rio created in the 1940s, who became almost an iconic symbol of Brazil throughout the world and even inspired the wild hats loaded with bananas and fruits that were the trademark of singer and actress Carmen Miranda.
The decision by local authorities to include Disney characters in the celebrations clashed with public statements of Oscar Niemeyer, whose genius produced many of the main government buildings in the new capital.
“After Brasilia was inaugurated, the men with money, with capital, arrived and everything changed. The most detestable individuality and vanity arrived and the habits gradually changed, acquiring those of the bourgeoisie that we condemn,” he told Folha de Sao Paulo newspaper.
The self-proclaimed Communist Stalinist said that one of the “worst things” today about the city that sprang from his imagination “is the intolerable division between rich and poor.”
Amid the parade of Disney characters, there were a few demonstrations against corruption and a scandal that blew up in recent months in the city and ended with the removal of Jose Roberto Arruda, governor of the Federal District.
The party in the Brazilian capital will last all day and conclude at nightfall with an open-air concert where a number of popular Brazilian singers, including Milton Nascimento and Daniela Mercury, are slated to perform.