In the United States,
revisiting history requires at least a certain modesty. In July of last year,
The New York Times officially recognized the fraudulent nature of the
reports written by Walter Duranty, their correspondent in the Soviet Union
during the 1930s, at the dawn of the Stalinist era. While the number of hunger
victims in the Soviet Union, particularly in Ukraine, reached millions, Duranty
simply transcribed official information issued by the government.
We now hear talk about
recalling the Pulitzer prize he won for his lies. For Mark von Hagen, professor
of History at Columbia University, the Pulitzer should be annulled due to
the journalist's "lack of balance" in covering the Stalinist government.
Duranty died in 1957. "For the honor and glory of The New York
Times, they should recall the prize", said Von Hagen. "Duranty
was a disgrace in the history of The New York Times."
Later, in 1986, in Robert
Conquest's book review of Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and
the Terror-Famine, the Times sketched a timid mea culpa
for the missteps committed by Duranty. Another correspondent of the newspaper
in Moscow, Craig R. Whitney, wrote that Duranty "denied the existence
of hunger in his reports practically until it was over, despite much proof
in contrary published by Time itself at that time". That is what
the news agencies tell us.
If we are witnessing a
new fad, the history of the last century will have to be rewritten. Journalists,
writers and intellectuals all over the world, like little birds hypnotized
by a serpent, sang praises to the cruelest dictatorship in the century, hid
its crimes and sore spots and deified Stalin as the "Peoples' Daddy".
Among us in Brazil, we
had from Jorge Amado and Graciliano Ramos all the way to Oscar Niemeyer et
caterva. By mid-century, with everyone perfectly aware of who Stalin really
was, these gentlemen continued to insist, nevertheless, in extolling tyranny.
Down came the Berlin Wall, the Soviet Union crumbled and Marxism as an ideology
was buried in the garbage can of History.
In Brazil, however, it
was like nothing had happened. Ask anyone you know what happened on November
9th, 1989. Not even fifteen years are passed and nobody remembers the date
anymore. No historical revision was made of the facts occurred during our
last century and our professors and journalistswith rare exceptionsbehave
like they never noticed that the world has changed.
Enough proof is the recent
attempt of the Minister of Justice, Márcio Thomaz Bastos, to promote
to the ranking of general one of the last remaining Stalinists in Brazil,
communist militant Apolônio Pinto de Carvalho. A conspirator in 1935,
when he was a second lieutenant, Apolônio participated, under orders
from Moscow, in the bloody revolutionary plot aimed at establishing a Marxist
dictatorship in the country.
Expelled from the Army
and arrested, he went to Spain. There, always under Stalin's orders, he supposedly
fought Franco's troops. Defeated in Spain, he escaped to France, where he
is believed to have fought with the Resistance, as if fighting against
Nazism in the name of an even bloodier ideology deserved merit. In the countries
of the West as a whole, Stalin is seen as the most diligent assassin of the
century past. In Brazil, his shadow generates heroes.
Taking advantage of the
opportunity, the widow of captain Carlos Lamarca, who died in 1971, wants
his post-mortem promotion to lieutenant-colonel. A deserter, arms thief and
cold assassin, he even murdered an unarmed companion with blows from his rifle
butt. This is the brilliant résumé flaunted by the captain to
help his promotion.
I always say that the
big winners of 1964, unlike what the Brazilian military think, were the leftist
movements who wanted to transform the country into a soviet, Marxist and miserable
banana republic. One can be surprised that the descendents of Luís
Carlos Prestes have not yet demanded his promotion to the generalship. With
the same extraordinary courage of Lamarca, who executed a tied-up companion,
Prestes ordered the strangling of Elza Fernandes, wife of a party militant.
Such heroic gestures deserve at least four stars.
Once in office at Planalto,
Lula was able to surprise his political basenot only those who voted
for him but also those who would never vote for him. He abandoned the obsolete
banners of the PT and gave continuity to the politics of Fernando Henrique
Cardoso. If this is not an advance, at least it is not a recourse to barbarism,
which was the main fear of his opponents.
But the right hand of
our tupiniquim Dr. Strangelove has not lost movement. From time to
time it jolts up, in an atavic reflex, to extol the ruffians of a past that
is now dead and very dead. In Lula's defense, it was not him but Fernando
Henrique who started awarding the dregs of our nation with fat retirement
I understand Bilac (Olavo
Bilac, Parnassian poet, 1865-1918) a little better every day:
Ama, com fé
e orgulho a terra em que nasceste!
Criança! Não verás nenhum país como este!
Olha que céu! Que mar! Que rios! Que floresta!
A natureza, aqui, perpetuamente em festa.
É um seio de mãe a transbordar carinhos.
Love with faith and pride
the land of your birth!
Child! You will
never see another country like this!
What skies! What
seas! What rivers! What forests!
Nature here, in
is a mother's bosom
overflowing with endearments!
What bosoms! And what
endearments! By the power of media tricks, the defeated become overnight heroes.
Once in power, they impose themselves, by rule of law, to the cult of future
generations. For the first time in History, the men who intended to let the
country fall apart now exalt themselves as heroes and become a new class (see
Milovan Djilas, if anyone still remembers). Worse yet: we are creating a following.
With Moscow unable to finance its apparatchiks and enthused with the
Brasilic generosity, all kinds of defeated Latin-American militants now want
compensation from their governments.
"Do universo entre
as nações, resplandece a do Brasil"
Among the nations in the
universe, Brazil shines resplendently.
holds a PhD from University of Paris, Sorbonneis an author, translator,
lawyer, philosopher and journalist and lives in São Paulo. His e-mail
address is email@example.com
by Tereza Braga. Braga is a freelance Portuguese translator and interpreter
based in Dallas. She is an accredited member of the American Translators
Association. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org