Not to Rewrite the History of the Dictatorship

About March 31, 1964, the commanders of the armed forces plus bolsonaro’s defense minister published: “history cannot be rewritten, in a mere act of revisionism, without proper contextualization.”

Very well. But first, in order not to rewrite history without contextualizing the time, one must not rewrite the days of the calendar. For in the coup propaganda, the first of April 1964 was always brought forward to the 31st of March. Trying to avoid the joke, the universal day of lies, they lied in anticipation. They said that everything was done on March 31. And the revolution was decreed.

In doubt, so as not to fall into historical revisionism, look at the Brazilian newspapers of April 2nd, 1964:

O Globo, “Ressurge a democracia!”. O Estado de São Paulo: “Vitorioso o movimento democrático”. Diário de Pernambuco: “Jango leaves Brasília heading for Porto Alegre or abroad”. Folha de S. Paulo: “Congresso declara Presidência vaga: Mazzilli assumes”. And why do I list the news from April 2nd? The reason is simple: in an era without online editing, if the coup had occurred on March 31, the newspapers would publish the news on April 1. But since by the 31st all the elected governments were in power, the newspapers could only report the “revolution” on April 2nd. The curious thing is that, from then on, there was a rare dememory. The muzzled press started referring to a certain March 31 that happened after March 31. A tragic joke.

And to better contextualize the history, the atmosphere of terror against the democratic resistance in Brazil, the murders to the end of torture of political prisoners, I must relate a central event of one of the perverse crimes of the dictatorship, the one that must be contextualized.

I return in “Never-Ending Yourh” to the six murders in Recife in January 1973.  The six “terrorists” killed together in one news story. “Terrorists” because all people who fought against the dictatorship were called terrorists. Here’s an excerpt of the crimes contextualized in the novel, translated by Peter Lownds:

Orlando strikes the first blow:
They caught some terrorists today. Did you see?

He is addressing all of us but I know his words are directed at me. I can feel him pointing his chin at me while he talks, as I sit at the typewriter with my eyes fixed on nothing. I cannot concentrate on the list of materials I have to copy. My inner world is in absolute uproar. Everything inside me, all that I do to survive, is put into question. Orlando is standing right behind me. I can tell by the smell of cheap cologne and cigarettes which he emanates.

‘That slut was kind of pretty,’ he says. ‘The angel-faced terrorist, did you notice?’ He touches my shoulder. I do not acknowledge his provocation. I type random letters, head lowered toward keys. I have to control myself. Otherwise, I might write ‘Hypocrite. Asshole. Slavedriver. Fuckface.’ He touches me again, pressing his fingers into my shoulder: ‘Did you or did you not see the little sluts’ faces? You!’ I raise my chin. He smiles, but the smile is scornful. I respond from the height of my cowardice: ‘Me?’ Will you give your life for me? echoes in my head. ‘I didn’t see today’s paper.’ ‘You didn’t? I have it here in my briefcase.’ Shit. The old man opens his briefcase, takes out the paper and shows me the first page. ‘Here.’ He points at Soledad with a greasy finger”.

The most serious thing, today, is that this time is in danger of returning. The criminals of the “movement” of 1964 remain unpunished. The praise that the fascist in the presidency gives to those criminals is another form of crime. That is, if Bolsonaro himself was not a torturer. This recent March 31 agenda, for writers, translates thus: speak all that you feel and know. For Brazil has not radicalized democracy. We came out of the dictatorship without radicalizing democracy. The result is this fascism in power. The old one always comes back.

Uriarano Moto is author of the novel “Never-Ending Youth.”