How quickly do we forget. One of Brazil’s largest newspapers opened
its columns to allow statements
by a historianthe name of which
we will not quote so as to avoid embarrassment (his own)who
said that not even during the times of the military dictatorship
we had ever witnessed an armed
invasion of Congress in Brazil.
It’s not only congressmen who need to make an effort to study Brazilian history a little better. Journalists need to
brush up on it, too, and so do certain individual "historians". Faced with the shock battalion of the Federal District Military
Police entering the chambers of Congress last Wednesday while the Welfare Reform report was being voted on, tens of
legislators popped up their protestsall very fair, by the way. It so happens, however, that plenty of
Suas Excelências yelled about the scandal as being the first time that uniformed military agents occupied the chamber of the Legislative Branch.
Even worse, one of the largest newspapers in the country opened its columns to allow statements by a historianthe
name of which we will not quote so as to avoid embarrassment (his own)who said that not even during the times of the
military dictatorship we had ever witnessed an armed invasion of Congress in Brazil.
Everyone is suffering from memory loss. In October of 1966, then President Castelo Branco revoked the mandate of
more than five congressmen. The Speaker of the House, Adaucto Lúcio Cardoso, reacted by refusing to accept the
cancellations, stating that those pointed out as culprits should move to the House’s infirmary and continue to do their job. The
military government felt its authority scratched and one early morning, Congress saw an invasion by hundreds of soldiers from
the Army, Navy, Air Force and the Brasília Military Police.
Commanding the forces was Colonel Meira Mattos. Shouting "civilians, out!", the troops walked up the ramps and
by fits and starts occupied corridors, rooms and halls, shoving congressmen, employees and journalists aside along their
way. They had everyone form a long line and leave their IDs behind, before they could leave the Seat of the Legislative Branch.
There was even the celebrated dialogue between Adaucto Lúcio Cardoso and Meira Mattos, in the foyer: "I am the
civilian power; and who are you, Sir?" "I am the military power!" It won’t kill certain historians, journalists and congressmen to
lay their eyes on a few books of contemporary history in their free time…
There would have been an arrest at the presidential inauguration, last January
1st, if any attendee could have been
deranged enough to foresee Lula being booed in union assemblies and public squares; union leaders threatening to burn the PT
flag; PT militants making statements to the press about their regret in having voted for the party’s candidate; 20 thousand
public servants parading in Três Poderes
Square to voice their protest against the government; Minister Antônio Palocci, head
of the economic team, being booed in the city where he was mayor, having to get in and out through the back door of the
City Council building of Ribeirão Preto; the president of PT, José Genoíno, facing the
corredor polonês (the gantlet) in the
Congress and being called the "dedo-duro
(squealer) of Araguaia"; the Speaker of the House, João Paulo Cunha, summoning the
shock troops of the Brasília Military Police to silence the demonstrators intent on protesting against the Welfare Reform; the
PFL turning itself into the party in defense of threatened social rights.
It should actually be expected. Who told the government to apply the exact same neo-liberal economic model of
IMF and the Fernando Henrique administration?
The Pinocchio Award
Many people have been fighting to win the championship of lies, but the pole position remains with former
President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. Not a week goes by without some speech by the sociologist, either maliciously praising
Lula for applying his own economic formulas, "although exaggerating", or throwing barbed darts resembling spears on his
successor. He has accepted the role of polarizer of the opposition forces and likes to show his willingness to lead the PSDB
in its attempt to gain more political space.
He reviews Lula’s trips abroad in his depreciatory way and weaves comparisons between past and present.
Whenever asked, however, he repeats that he is not a candidate to return to
Planalto and emphasizes his disposition to never again
run for any election. Is he or isn’t he a candidate for the Pinocchio Award?
Carlos Chagas writes for the Rio’s daily Tribuna da
Imprensa and is a representative of the Brazilian
Press Association, in Brasília. He welcomes your comments at
This article appeared originally in Tribuna da
Imprensa – http://www.tribuna.inf.br
Tereza Braga is a freelance Portuguese translator and interpreter based in Dallas. She is an accredited member of
the American Translators Association. Contact: