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Brazzil - Ideology - January 2004

In Brazil the Left Thrives

The big winners of Brazil's 1964 military coup, 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 communist party chief
Luís Carlos Prestes have not yet demanded his promotion to the generalship.

Janer Cristaldo


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 journalists—with rare exceptions—behave 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 base—not 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 checks.

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 continuous celebration,
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.

Janer Cristaldo—he holds a PhD from University of Paris, Sorbonne—is an author, translator, lawyer, philosopher and journalist and lives in São Paulo. His e-mail address is cristal@baguete.com.br 
Translated 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: terezab@sbcglobal.net

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