Speaking at a recent news conference, city Tourism Secretary Antonio Figueira de Mello dismissed criticism as ‘‘a conflict of interest between residents.’’
‘‘With an event that has as big an impact on the city as Carnival, you’re always going to have lots of happy people and lots of unhappy people, particularly when events are taking place on the front steps of your building and when they get in the way of your daily routine,’’ Mello said. ‘‘Blocos are like street fairs: Everyone likes them, but no one wants one on their street.’’
Mello stressed that with the rise in the number of blocos comes a ramping up of logistical support.
The number of traffic cops has been increased 25 percent to nearly 1,000 officers in a bid to smooth transportation snarls. Nearly 7,800 municipal guards are to be deployed to encourage revelers to take advantage of this year’s 17,200 portable toilets — up from just 900 four years ago. Fines will be levied on those caught urinating in public, Mello said.
Such measures are cold comfort for many residents.
Vinicius Netto, an urbanism professor, said that after ‘‘suffering’’ through the last four Carnivals, he and his girlfriend have decided not to stick around to see if things run more smoothly this time around. They’re spending Carnival on an isolated island several hours away.
‘‘Rio is the mecca of Carnival, and I respect that,’’ Netto said. ‘‘The problem is that it takes over the city to such an extent that there’s no space left for those of us who, for whatever reason, would prefer not to participate.’’