Rubbish left from Rio Carnival fills city streets as refuse worker strike continues

The piles of rubbish are a reminder of the work ahead before the city is ready to host the FIFA World Cup in three months time

The streets of Rio de Janeiro have been blighted by mounds of household waste and rubbish left by Rio Carnival revellers since Wednesday, when refuse workers went on strike.

The action was timed to coincide with the festival, which officially ended Wednesday after five days of celebrations which attracted 5 million people to more than 400 street parades and block parties.

Many of the collectors are still on walkout in hope their pay will improve, while others have lost their jobs.

The piles of rubbish that have turned some of Rio’s most popular and exclusive neighborhoods into garbage dumps, are a reminder of the problems Brazil faces in three months it has left to prepare for the FIFA World Cup.

Construction delays, security questions and logistical problems have all affected preparations for the sporting event, while Rio's hosting of the Olympics just two years later also looms.

 

600,000 foreign visitors are expected to attend the World Cup, joining millions of Brazilians who will be watching the events live, in bars, and in their living rooms at home.

“We are working to normalize operations,” Vinicius Roriz, the president of Rio's municipal trash company, told reporters on Wednesday, noting ongoing negotiations over salary demands made by strikers.

In Flamengo, a seaside neighborhood home to some of the biggest Carnival celebrations, a major road known as the “aterro,” or landfill because it was built on reclaimed wetland, came to embody the original sense of the word in recent days.

Plastic, paper and metal have been piled in its multiple traffic lanes.

Beaches in Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, upscale districts further south, are also strewn with litter, while residential streets and popular tourist thoroughfares are overflowing with stuffed trash cans and stinking heaps of refuse that doormen no longer have room for inside their buildings.

“It's chaos,” said one doorman early Wednesday. “We have nowhere left to put all this garbage.”

Additional reporting by Reuters

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