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Rio de Janeiro beach club ordered shut down

March 01, 2013|By Vincent Bevins
  • Bathers enjoy a beach in Rio de Janeiro.
Bathers enjoy a beach in Rio de Janeiro. (Antonio Lacerda / European…)

Sao Paulo, Brazil — A private beach club in Rio de Janeiro set up on land leased from the Brazilian military will be shut down by authorities Sunday, it's last planned day of business for the summer, after threats of a protest concerning its exclusive nature.

On Friday, the Brazilian military informed the club that its license to operate had been rescinded as of Sunday, citing "serious public order and safety problems," widely interpreted to mean that the protesters had won.

The Brazilian Constitution stipulates that all beaches are public property. So after the influential conservative magazine Veja published an article on the beach club, citing patrons who had to pay steep entrance fees and bought $2,500 bottles of champagne and spoke of needing a beach with a more "select" clientele, a flurry of shocked commentary followed on social media and in front-page stories.

"We're really, deeply happy," said Eric Monne, 23, a student who helped start the protest movement on Facebook. "Our beaches, especially in Rio, are the closest thing we have to democratic space. I think this shows that Brazilians aren't as apathetic and alienated as some would like to think."

The Aqueloo Beach Club sits on a small stretch of beach that is controlled by the Brazilian military, which this year leased it to the club for the summer, now nearing its end in South America. The club's owner said it is not clear whether he can reopen next year.

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