Corporal Anselmo, Double Agent of the Brazilian Dictatorship, in His Obituary

Corporal Anselmo passed away on 03/15/2022.

By phone, the writer and journalist André Cintra told me the news five minutes ago. I was taking a nap, but I jumped out of bed. And until now I don’t know where to begin José Anselmo dos Santos’ obituary.

The news, with its natural objectivity, which in this case means, with all natural ignorance of history, says that José Anselmo dos Santos died on Tuesday night at the age of 80, in Jundiaí (SP). And that he was a “double agent during the military regime”. See? They call the dictatorship and the state terror in Brazil “military regime”.

But let’s see if God helps us to try some justice for this criminal.

If we remove the infamy from his skin, a difficult or impossible task, the first characteristic of Corporal Anselmo is that he was a good liar. First, he lied about his name: was he Daniel, as he introduced himself in Recife, or Jadiel or Jonathan? That was the minimum. Where he excelled with acting arts not only in words, was in the coldness and cynicism with which he referred to his greatest crime: the surrender of his pregnant companion, Soledad Barrett, to the repression. In more than one interview, in front of reporters committed to the right or by historical ignorance, he referred to the great warrior with the finesse of a snake.

In his Band interview, I noted that when Fernando Mitre mentioned Soledad, Corporal Anselmo replied, with both hands raised, as if defending himself, as if recalling an agreement, which threatened to be broken: “Opa!”. And Mitre, back: “You can talk about her later”. And he said, “ah, of course”. And what was seen afterwards was nothing, or almost nothing.

On Roda Viva, in one of the moments of calculated cynicism, Anselmo refers to Soledad Barrett.

The interviewer said: ” Do you dispute that she was pregnant, as the historical version …?”

Corporal Anselmo: ” If I believe, as the doctors say, that the IUD was the safest of the condoms, I dispute it, yes.”

And the interviewer raised the ball to Anselmo : “So the fetus found there was not hers?”

Corporal Anselmo replied, “I imagine it would be Pauline’s. Pauline was pregnant, she even had a pregnancy problem, and Soledad took her to the doctor.”

Cold infamy unchallenged.

But know the words of Nadejda Marques, only daughter of Jarbas Marques, one of the six socialist militants killed in Recife, together with Soledad. Today, Nadejda Marques holds a doctorate in Human Rights and Development:

My grandmother Rosália, Jarbas Marques’ mother, managed to get into the morgue. She, among the several jobs she had, was also a nurse. She knew the person of Soledad. My grandmother always told what she saw in that fateful January 1973. My father, with torture marks all over his body, had strangulation marks on his neck and water in his lungs consistent with the result of torture by drowning. The shots in the chest and head were given after his death. Soledad’s body, still bloodied, had the remains of a placenta and a fetus in a makeshift bucket.

And definitive are the words in the complaint by lawyer Mércia Albuquerque:

Soledad was with her eyes wide open, with a very large expression of terror. I was horrified. As Soledad was standing with her arms at her side, I took off my petticoat and put it around her neck. What impressed me most was the blood clotted in large amounts. I have the impression that she was killed and laid down, and they brought her in afterwards, and the blood, when it clotted, got stuck in her legs, because it was such a large amount. The fetus was there on her feet. I can’t know how it ended up there, or if it was right there in the morgue that it fell, that it was born, in that horror.

In Corporal Anselmo’s death, finally, Soledad Barrett was and remains the center, the person who screams, Archimedes’ backstop for his crimes. She points to José Anselmo dos Santos and sentences him, wherever he goes: “Until the end of your days you are condemned, scoundrel.

May hell be heavy on him, at last. For all eternity.

Urariano Mota is the author of Never-Ending Youth.