The Agitator Is Quiet

The Agitator
      Is Quiet

Francisco Julião used to defend agrarian reform forcefully
arguing that it had to be done "by law or by force." He went into exile to
Mexico City and stayed there until 1979. Disappointed after being abandoned by old friends
he once again headed to Mexico in 1987.
By Alessandra Dalevi

It was in Cuernavaca, Mexico, the same city that became famous in the beginning of the
20th century for being the center of Emiliano Zapata’s uprising for agrarian reform, where
Brazilian leftist revolutionary and House Representative Francisco Julião chose to live
and ended up dying on July 10, 1999 from a heart attack at age 84 while in the kitchen
preparing spaghetti his favorite dish for a friend. Accused of subversion, the lawyer and
leader of the Peasant Leagues together with Pernambuco governor Miguel Arraes was jailed,
stripped of his political rights and forced into exile after the 1964 military coup.

He used to defend agrarian reform forcefully arguing that it had to be done "by
law or by force." Julião went into exile to Mexico City and stayed there until 1979
when he was amnestied by the military regime. Back to Pernambuco he once again tried
unsuccessfully to be elected a representative. His old friends from the left abandoned him
and Julião, disappointed, in 1987, once again headed to Mexico.

The Peasant Leagues originated in the little town of Vitória de Santo Antão in the
interior of Pernambuco state in 1954. Peasant José Ortêncio, who with 140 other families
leased the Engenho Galiléia farm, created with his colleagues the SAPP (Sociedade
Agrícola de Plantadores e Pecuaristas de Pernambuco—Agricultural Society of Planters
and Cattle Raisers of Pernambuco). Harassed and roughed up by the police they looked for
help among their House Representatives. Francisco Julião from the PSB (Partido Socialista
Brasileiro—Brazilian Socialist Party) offered his support. He had been elected to the
post of deputado federal (House Representative) first in 1950.

The press started calling the new organization led by Julião Peasant League since it
looked like a similar movement from the ’50s, which had that name. Their main demand in
the beginning was merely that peasants got minimum wage and that women were paid the same
as men. By 1962 the movement had spread to 13 states under the leadership of Julião. The
next year they created the Conferência das Ligas Camponesas do Brasil and had planned a
national congress for 1964, but then the military took over in April and the leagues
became extinct.

At the time, despite laws on the books assuring their rights to wages, peasants were
"hired" through a method called "regime de cambão", in which
the landowner acquired the worker for a low price in an auction similar to those used to
sell black slaves in the past. The hired hand was then forced to work just for food during
ten days.

Julião was writing his memories and kept on writing them until the day before his
death. The first volume, which tells how the Peasant League started, is finished and
should be published at the end of the year. He had moved to Cuernavaca three years ago
where he lived with his Mexican wife Marta, whom he had met soon after going into exile.
Both were divorced and had children from their previous marriages. He, six; she, ten.

comments to

You May Also Like

Chí¡vez, in Brazil, Accuses US of Blocking South-South Cooperation

The President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, called for more action and organization to permit ...

An Ambitious Brazilian Program to Recycle 5,000 Computers a Year

Around 500 machines, including computers, printers, monitors, and other equipment, were delivered recently to ...

Lula Starts Brazil’s Campaign with Vulgarity. In Brazil This Is the Norm

Startled, no one was. Not even shocked. For long the unique political vocabulary of ...

Brazil to Use TV and Movies to Sell the Country Overseas

The Brazilian government wants to use cultural products, such as TV programs and movies, ...

After Reaching 146 Countries Brazil Now Wants to Export Shoes to China

Apex-Brasil, the Brazilian Export and Investment Promotion Agency announced yesterday during the Couromoda fair, ...

Brazil’s State Firm Embrapa Creates 14 Transgenic Species. Seeds Are for Sale.

In a special program, "Soybeans – A Big Business," broadcast on Friday, January 20, ...

Brazil and LatAm Fall Short on Millennium Development Goals

Fifteen out of the 24 Latin American and Caribbean nations, including Brazil, have met ...

US dollar and Brazilian real

Weak Dollar Brings Brazil to the Rescue of Industry

The commercial dollar recovered a little ground today in Brazil after the Brazilian currency, ...

Brazil’s Lula in Venezuela Campaigning for Chavez Reelection

Brazil’s newly re-elected leader visited Venezuela on Monday in a show of support for ...

New Braskem: a Brazilian Petrochemical Giant Is Born

Petrobras and Odebrecht, two Brazilian companies announced the purchase of Unipar’s share of the ...