The Anonymous Communists of Recife

I see on the Internet that the Communist Party of Brazil was born on March 25, 1922. 100 years of life! I search further and find out that that day fell on a Saturday. But we could well say that that Saturday is today, Friday.

What is certain is that, on that Saturday in 1922, leaders representing 73 militant political associations of workers founded the party: Astrojildo Pereira (journalist), Cristiano Cordeiro (lawyer), Joaquim Barbosa (tailor), Manuel Cendón (tailor), João da Costa Pimenta (printer), Luís Pérez (sweeper), Hemogêneo Fernandes da Silva (electrician), Abílio Nequete (barber) and José Elias da Silva (bricklayer). The research says that the meeting ended with everyone singing softly, for safety reasons, The International.

About Cristiano Cordeiro, it is great to remember an act at the Santa Isabel Theater, documented indirectly in popular music. In 1933, Cristiano Cordeiro launched on the stage of the theater the slogan “Trabalhador, ocupa teu posto” (Worker, occupy your post), which later served as inspiration for the composer Nelson Ferreira to compose the frevo “Coração, ocupa teu posto” (Heart, occupy your post). A success sung until today in the carnivals of Pernambuco:

Heart, occupy your post
Choose a love that will please me…

But I prefer to talk, even if only briefly, about the matter closest to me, my ground. To talk about those who are often considered to be at ground level.

Ivo, who owned a box office to the left of the entrance to the Água Fria Public Market, is unforgettable to me. He studied economics, was a reader of Celso Furtado. It was Ivo who introduced me to Bira, the first communist that I knew was a communist in Água Fria. Bira spoke to me about Darwin’s theories, while I answered him with faith in God, even though I myself did not have as much faith as I would have liked. Before Bira, Ivo was the first leftist person I knew as a teenager to declare himself like this in phenomenal discussions. I write now and note that the realm of culture is the homeland of everyone’s communion. In a climate of fierce repression, of hunting communists, Ivo discussed the lights of socialism with a thin boy, a reader of Selections. There was a basis of trust between us, because I was looking for a reason to live in the world and could not find one, and my friend Ivo claimed to have the way to solve all my lack of a north.

There is also another anonymous communist, whose ideology I only learned about many years later. We didn’t even know it, but there, near the Market, on Japaranduba Street, there was an organized communist, a cell leader, a man that by himself, for those who didn’t know him, seems today more like a character from a children’s story. A man with a fantastic story. He was Luiz, the barber. Luiz Beltrão spoke English, studied philosophy, both at university and outside of it, in 1960. Wouldn’t a philosophy professor barber be more appropriate in an Andersen story? We didn’t even realize it, but the world of fantasy was part of the reality of our days. And for this reason the marvelous took us over as if it were the most natural and elementary thing. In his Luiz’s barbershop, the kids, the maloqueiros, as the youngsters were called, the idlers, could come in and read the newspapers and the reports from O Cruzeiro magazine. As if they were customers, every day, every morning, abusing the commercial point, without any payment. We didn’t know, that was a freedom opened by a communist, barber and philosopher.

I know today that anonymous people are as important as any celebrity in history.

– It depends, if they are organized in the struggle,” the barber philosopher Luiz Beltrão could answer me. Then I fix it:

– Communists make the homeland where the nobody becomes somebody.

Now, yes, I think Barber Luiz would like this reminder.

Urariano Mota is the author of Never-Ending Youth.