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Carnival kicks off in Brazil with parades, street parties and security fears

Brazil's world-famous Carnival has commenced across the country, drawing thousands to the streets. But this year's celebration also comes amid a recession and fears of a crime surge.

Carnival festivities officially began on Friday in Rio de Janeiro and other cities across Brazil, as the country grapples with a moribund economy, ongoing violence and political instability that resulted in a presidential impeachment.

Rio expects to draw more than a million visitors and generate about $1 billion (947,000,000 euros) in revenue from the five-day festival, which is known worldwide for its block parties and outlandish parades.

However, the beginning of this year's Carnival also comes not long after police strikes in Rio and the neighboring state of Espirito Santo, which prompted fears of a crime surge during the celebration. In Espirito Santo, for example, the strike led to a spike in murders, thefts and assaults.

Brasilien Karneval in Sao Paulo (Getty Images/AFP/N. Almeida)

Brazilian actress Alessandra Negrini performs in Sao Paulo

But policing in Rio had returned to normal this week and the festivities have so far commenced without incident. Several street parties, including one whose theme is Brazil's current unpopular President Michel Temer, are expected to draw tens of thousands of people. Across the city, officials have deployed outdoor urinals and some stores and offices have reportedly boarded up their windows out of concern for vandals.

Brasilien Karneval in Sao Paulo (Getty Images/AFP/N. Almeida)

This year's Carnival is expected to draw more than 1 million people

Concerns also mounted that this year's celebration would be effected by the stagnant economy, and many partygoers are expected to spend less this year. Around 13 million Brazilians are unemployed.

Carnival, which comes from the debauchery that has traditionally preceded the austere Catholic season of Lent, officially ends next Wednesday.

Parades and parties will also take place in other cities, including Sao Paulo and Salvador.

blc/jm (AP, Reuters)

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