1968 for ever

    1968
for ever

    As in other parts of the world, 1968 was an eventful year in
    Brazil. After four years under a military dictatorship there was a brief spring of popular
    discontent. Songs defied the status quo, students went to the streets to protest.
    Demonstrations were violently repressed and artists were silenced. In a final response,
    the military shut down Congress, imposed censorship, and banned, exiled and jailed those
    it considered a threat.
    By Kirsten Weinoldt

    "They thought that they could change society permanently. They really believed
    in the perfection of society and perhaps in the perfection of man, and we know over and
    over again throughout history, Utopianism is a very dangerous business. It leads directly
    to coercion and violence."
    Judge Robert Bork, former Supreme Court Nominee, speaking for a PBS program about
    1968. (Aired July 27, 1998)

    "The moral content is the best legacy the 1968 generation could leave to a
    country all the time governed by the lack of memory and the absence of ethics."
    Zuenir Ventura, author of 1968, O Ano Que Não Terminou (1968, The Year That
    Didn’t End)

    "My story and that of my generation are told with a double intent. On the most
    immediate plane, it was a search for individual freedom and personal happiness. On a
    greater scale, it was a revolutionary search for a more just and humane society. On all
    levels, this search was an obligation to a passionate fight against
    regression—internal as well as external." Luiz Carlos Maciel in his book Geração
    em Transe (Generation in Crisis).

    Just as the planets from time to time move, at their own pace, into certain significant
    constellations which bode natural disasters and destruction, so do worldwide political
    events start to form a maelstrom into which, helplessly, the destiny of a generation is
    pulled. Such a maelstrom was nineteen-hundred-and-sixty-eight. The seeds were sown in many
    ways by a multitude of people and circumstances, starting at different times and headed
    for an inevitable collision course.

    If one subscribes to a theory of a judgmental God seeking to teach his subjects a
    lesson—as happened with Sodom and Gomorrah as well as Noah and the great flood, so
    might this be such an example. Perhaps the Almighty looked at mankind, remembering Sodom
    and Gomorrah, and said, "Enough," and proceeded to set the dominoes in motion,
    soon enveloping a hapless planet Earth and leaving her population scratching its
    collective head.

    It was a time at which unemployment was at its lowest, social welfare on the rise in
    the developed nations, and personal liberties at an all-time high—the sexual
    revolution in full swing. And yet, underneath it all bubbled and simmered discontent like
    the volcano waiting to erupt. And erupt it did.

    Long a source of controversy and dissent, the Vietnam War took a new turn during the
    New Year’s celebration of that country—the so-called Tet. The offensive by the
    Vietcong escalated the war to a new level and was, in fact, the beginning of the
    end—an end that was not to come still for several years—too many years.

    1968 had brought civil rights legislation to Americans of African descent, but it was
    seen largely as an act of lip service in a deeply racist society. This was exacerbated by
    the Vietnam War, where the uneven ratio of blacks to whites was seen as a nation sending
    her "disposable" people to be killed in disproportionate numbers. Then came the
    great blow to a people struggling for equal rights when their leader, Martin Luther King,
    by many compared to Gandhi, was assassinated in April of that fateful year. Two months
    later came yet another shocking murder—that of Robert Kennedy—who had just won
    the California primary election.

    Blacks and other poor people marched on Washington, sanitation workers struck, leaving
    a paralyzed and smelly New York. Firemen and teachers staged savage strikes, and American
    intellectuals such as Susan Sontag, Norman Mailer, and James Baldwin led a protest by the
    elite, asking the question, "Why should we pay taxes to finance the evil war against
    the Vietcong?"

    The entertainment industry was inundated with rebellion and self-destruction during
    this period. Singers Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Jim Morrison, as well as Rolling
    Stone Brian Jones, laid the foundation of drugs and alcohol that would kill them a year or
    so later. The Czechoslovakian spring—a hopeful attempt at a fledgling
    democracy—was crushed by Soviet troops aided by other Warsaw-pact countries. It led
    to further protests in an already turbulent world.

    In France, the name of a French-German student became a household word. Daniel
    Cohn-Bendit was the leader of the Parisian barricades, which fought the police in violent
    demonstrations. He says today of those times, "We wanted a direct democracy, we
    wanted to change the language and style of life—wanted a liberation of customs, the
    enthusiasm of solidarity, and the happiness of overcoming selfishness."

    Carlos Fuentes, the Mexican writer, who participated in the Parisian spring, says of
    the events, "What we had there was an extraordinary sense of brotherhood and
    sisterhood. There was this capacity to embrace people in the streets. There were couples
    kissing. There were couples who fell apart because they did not share political views.
    Paris was divided by the river Seine, as never before. On the left bank, the
    revolutionaries—the dreamers. On the right, the conservatives, the financiers, the
    money people, the bourgeoisie, so the city was divided as much as in Les Misérables in
    Victor Hugo or in any of the great occasions of this city that seems to need a great
    revolutionary explosion from time to time."

    In other European countries rebellion took a different path. Anti-system terrorism
    emerged in Italy with the Red Brigade, and in West Germany the population came to fear the
    Baader-Meinhof gang. In the United States, "Yippies," under the leadership of
    Abbie Hoffman, disrupted the Democratic Convention in Chicago. They were later tried as
    the so-called `Chicago 8′ and were eventually found not guilty. The Black Panther party,
    tired of racism and empty promises, struck out at the oppression. At the same time Charles
    de Gaulle won a spectacular victory for conservatism in France, and Richard Nixon was
    elected president just months after the deaths of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy.

    Mexico, also, was deeply touched by the unrest enveloping the Earth. This manifested
    itself in the events of October 2, which became known as the Night of Sorrow. Student
    unrest had been building all summer. It came to a head on that October evening when
    hundreds of young men and women gathered in a city square. They were challenging an
    authoritarian government, which claimed to be democratic. Soldiers with fixed bayonets
    surrounded the students. A helicopter hovering over-head opened fire, killing some 500
    young people in the same square where, in 1521, Aztecs had been massacred. It was the
    worst, single disaster of 1968. It was also largely unknown around the world, as the
    Mexican government shrouded it in secrecy. But it became a turning point. In one single,
    fell swoop the Mexican government had lost whatever legitimacy it might have had. Carlos
    Fuentes says, "From this terrifying event in which over 500 young men and women died,
    a new Mexico was born."

    A Stronger
    Dictatorship

    Brazil, naturally, was affected by the happenings in other parts of the world. At the
    same time, the country had dealt with its own problems for the past four years prior to
    1968. On March 31, 1964, the Brazilian military overthrew the government of João (Jango)
    Goulart, a president who had the support of the Left and of the most progressive layers of
    Brazilian society. He had been president since 1961, when President Jânio Quadros
    resigned. Goulart, who was his running mate, then assumed the office.

    The generals who staged the coup d’état stated that they would only stay in power for
    a year, while they `reorganized the country,’ and new elections would be held for the
    presidency. Meanwhile, they appointed General Humberto Castelo Branco to head the country,
    making him the first of a succession of generals holding the position of president. As it
    was, the military stayed in power for 21 years, until they allowed the Brazilian congress
    to elect a civilian president in 1985.

    For a couple of years after the takeover, there was still some peaceful resistance.
    However, because the political rights of most union leaders and opposing politicians had
    been cancelled, artists, students, and journalists became the spearheads of resistance and
    protests. In the streets, students held demonstrations, in the beginning demanding better
    universities, and later democracy and elections. The biggest protest took place in Rio
    with over 100,000 participants. This kind of protest march was met with violence by the
    military.

    By the end of 1968, the political scene was chaotic and the population polarized.
    Fights between rightist and leftist students were frequent. Right-wing terrorist groups
    like the MAC, the Anti-Communist Movement (Movimento Anti Comunista ) and the CCC, the
    Communist Hunter Command ( Comando de Caça aos Comunistas) struck down anything that
    appeared subversive to the military government. Artists and intellectuals were some of
    their favorite targets.

    In Brasília, congressman Márcio Moreira Alves gave a speech before the chamber of
    deputies, proposing a boycott against the September 7th Independence Day
    celebrations. The senior officers of the military considered his words offensive to the
    armed forces and wanted to put him in jail. Congress, however, denied permission for Alves
    to be tried. That was the excuse the government needed for a second and more profound
    coup. On December 13th, 1968, the military implemented Institutional Act No. 5,
    and Brazil was plunged into the most repressive dictatorship of its history. Congress was
    closed, all civil rights were banned, making it legal to keep anyone in jail without a
    trial. All forms of press and the arts had to undergo censorship before reaching the
    public. Acting president General Costa e Silva now had dictatorial powers.

    People from all walks of life—politicians, artists, students, and
    intellectuals—were detained and tortured. Many `disappeared’ and never returned.
    Hundreds or even thousands of citizens were killed. A total number is not known. Others,
    again, were forced into exile. There were some guerilla groups attempting to rise up
    against the government, but without success. Act No. 5 stayed until 1978 when it was
    finally revoked. The next year, political prisoners were granted amnesty. It was not until
    1989, however, that Brazil would again have direct elections for the presidency.

    Those events starting in 1964 were the catalyst for what was to happen in 1968. It
    might be prudent at this point to look at a chronology of events that made the year one
    that people cannot and will not forget. While protests and riots had been taking place in
    Europe since the beginning of the year, it didn’t start until March in Brazil.

    March 28th—Group of Rio Polícia Militar invades university restaurant
    Calabouço. Édson Luís Lima Souto, 18, a student, is killed.
    March 29th—Fifty thousand people attend the funeral of Édson Luís in Rio
    de Janeiro.
    April 1st—Students occupy the University of Brasília (UnB).
    Manifestations in Rio result in one death and several people injured; in São Paulo,
    protest march divides the students: one group defends a confrontation with the police, and
    the other is for dispersal. The latter wins out.
    April 4th—7th day mass for Édson Luís Lima Souto, in Rio.
    Priests form a human chain to protect the students.
    April 18th—University of Nanterre in the outskirts of Paris is closed.
    May 3rd—Students occupy the building of the Medical Faculty in Belo
    Horizonte.
    In Paris, the dean of the Sorbonne sends for the police to patrol campus.
    May 5th—Police arrest 117 students at the Medical Faculty in Belo
    Horizonte.
    May 7th—Seven thousand students fight with police in Paris.
    May 8th—Student uprisings in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, and
    in Mexico.
    May 13th—General strike in France and a protest march in Paris.
    May 14th—The Sorbonne and the University of Milan are occupied by
    students.
    May 22nd—France comes to a halt. Ten million people are on strike.
    June 2nd—The PUC, Pontifícia Universidade Católica, in São Paulo, is
    taken over by students.
    June 11th—Violence returns to the streets of Paris. A worker and a student
    are killed.
    June 12th—Students invade the rectory of USP, Universidade de São Paulo.
    June 17th—Police invade the Sorbonne and remove students who have occupied
    the building for 47 days.
    June 21st—Riots in Rio on the day that became known as Bloody Friday:
    Officially two killed—including a policeman with a brick—and dozens injured.
    Medicine students on duty in hospitals count 28 cadavers.
    June 24th—USP Law School is occupied by students.
    June 26th—Protest march of 100,000 in Rio.
    Bomb attack by the VPR, Vanguarda Popular Revolucionária, The People’s Revolutionary
    Vanguard, kills a guard, Mário Kozel Filho, at army headquarters in São Paulo.
    June 28th—Protest march ends in serious riots in Porto Alegre.
    July 3rd—Demonstrations with two thousand participants in São Paulo.
    July 4th—In Rio, another march with ten thousand students.
    July 5th—Gama e Silva, Attorney General, prohibits protest marches.
    July 17th—Students occupying the Faculty of Law in São Paulo are removed
    by police. The PUC in São Paulo is cleared at the same time.
    August 28th—Demonstration in São Paulo results in 500 arrests.
    August 29th—UnB (University of Brasília) is invaded by police. Students
    are shot.
    September 2nd—Representative Márcio Moreira Alves makes a vehement
    pronouncement in the House of Representatives against the invasion at UnB. He proposes
    that the population boycott Independence Day celebrations as a protest against repression
    and torture, holding the armed forces responsible for the crisis in the country.
    October 2nd—Conflict in Rua Maria Antônia between students at USP and
    Mackenzie University.
    October 3rd—New incidents at Maria Antônia result in the death of a
    student, provoking a demonstration, which is struck down by police. 34 students are
    detained.
    October 4th—In São Paulo, ten thousand people accompany the dead student
    to the funeral.
    October 9th—Protest ends with a hundred people imprisoned, among them a
    priest.
    October 12th—Petition to prosecute Representative Márcio Moreira Alves is
    brought before the STF (Supremo Tribunal Federal—Federal Supreme Court).
    Accused of being a CIA agent North American captain Charles R. Chandler is assassinated
    with machine gun fire.
    October 14th—Police invade a site in Ibiúna, SP, the domain of the
    clandestine conference of UNE (União Nacional de Estudantes—National Student Union).
    Imprisoned are 10 journalists and 720 students.
    October 23rd—in Rio protest results in two deaths.
    December 13th—The House denies by 216 votes to 141 the petition to
    prosecute Márcio Moreira Alves.
    December 13th—President Costa e Silva decrees the AI-5 (Institutional Act
    No. 5) and closes the national congress

    Perhaps the history of a country is best explained through the individual stories of
    her people. We cannot look at those who "disappeared," as their voices were
    forever silenced long ago. Nor can we hear the large masses who suffered in silence. But
    we can observe those who spoke up and "made noise," those who suffered and
    survived to speak—in their many, varied ways—some of them choosing silence as
    their response to the happenings of the sixties. The culture of a country reflects the
    sentiments of the people, and it is through the expressions of artists in various pursuits
    and the reactions of the audience, that we most profoundly—although not always
    immediately—see the changes in society.

    Thugs
    Backstage

    Recently, an exposition at CCBB (Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil) in Rio featured
    memorabilia of the year that will not die in the minds of many, both in Brazil and
    elsewhere. Case in point. The American network PBS (Public Broadcasting System) featured a
    one-hour documentary on July 27th on the events that shaped that year.
    The exhibit brought to the public a collection of photos, film programs, documents, record
    covers, as well as newspapers and magazines.

    Among the items in the expo, which has the support of Jornal do Brasil, is the
    program from Chico Buarque de Holanda’s play, Roda Viva, the contents of which are
    mentioned elsewhere in this article. The play—a symbol of that generation—was
    directed by José Celso Martinez Corrêa, one of the great theater directors of Brazil.
    Considered subversive, the play was an easy target for military barbarism, which twice
    attacked the cast. At the time, Marília Pêra was substituting for actress Marieta Severo
    when the show went to São Paulo. She remembers with clarity the scenes of horror of a
    night at the Teatro Ruth Escobar.

    "Early on, at the beginning of the presentation, we noticed the presence of
    several good looking young men in the orchestra seats. We didn’t imagine that they were
    soldiers in civilian clothes. After the play was over, I was in one of the women’s
    dressing rooms when I heard a ruckus. They had begun breaking up the theater, the
    orchestra section, the set, and had already grabbed the men in the dressing room next to
    us," remembers the actress.

    One of the actors was Pedro Paulo Rangel who at 19 was making his debut in the theater.
    "When the soldiers broke down the set by force, we were all in the dark, being
    beaten, and not knowing why," confirms the actor who, looking back 30 years later,
    believes that there was much ingenuity in the play. "The story was simple, and there
    was a lot of humor, but we were messing with some important symbols," says Pedro
    Paulo Rangel.

    In Roda Viva, a singer invented by the media, does everything to become famous.
    He begins with iê iê iê (the nickname of the style of music created by the Jovem
    Guarda, the Young Guard, led by Roberto and Erasmo Carlos). When he does not achieve much
    success, he goes on to sing protest songs. A bandit’s headgear with the Soviet hammer and
    sickle, made the military’s eyes pop. In search of stardom, the singer ends up dying in
    front of the cameras when, ironically, his wife is elevated to the state of idol, dressed
    like Nossa Senhora Aparecida (the patron saint of Brazil).

    "All that was a joke," says Pedro Paulo Rangel, who would still be attacked
    later in Porto Alegre, when a group of soldiers stopped the bus coming back from Rio and
    beat up the cast. Joke or not, the play offended the military regime. For the attack in
    São Paulo were gathered members of the CCC (Comando de Caça aos Comunistas). As they
    were in civilian clothes, all used a black glove on the right hand so that they might
    recognize each other. When Marília Pêra heard the noise, she tried to go and see what
    was happening. A pregnant chambermaid, who ended up losing the baby during the episode,
    cried to her to stay in the dressing room. Marília still had time to witness this scene:
    two soldiers grabbed the head of Eudósia Cunha, who was part of the chorus, and beat it
    against the wall.

    It did not take long for the soldiers to reach Marília Pêra. After breaking down the
    door to the dressing room, they made her run past the soldiers down the corridor. There,
    she says, she only escaped being beaten by having the good sense to go slowly. Those who
    ran, were beaten. The savagery from start to finish, lasted less than five minutes.
    "It was all very quick and staged, in spite of not being an official attack."

    Afterwards, Marília and the rest of the cast went on a marathon, trying to file a
    complaint at various places, but the only result was further threats of death by
    telephone, if they continued in the play. These are the memories of the actress, who
    during the dictatorship still would be in prison two days because of the play, A
    Moreninha, (The Little Dark One), and who would be accused of drug trafficking and
    detained when she was doing the play The Criminal Life, two years later.

    1968 created many stories, characters and figures. There are many people who try to
    find themselves in the photos of the expo, tells the producer Cirlei de Hollanda. Mounted
    on the first floor of CCBB, the show portrays such things as the protest march of 100,000,
    Bloody Friday, and wake of student Édson Luís, killed in the restaurant do Calabouço.
    The assassination served as a detonator for a whole year of protests, not just at
    universities and secondary schools, but of fathers, mothers, intellectuals, and workers.

    There are 30 photos, which try to give a didactic perspective of that era, in which
    many of the visitors were not even born, says the curator of the show. In the expo, there
    is still the front page of Jornal do Brasil of December 14th, 1968, the
    day after the AI-5 (Institutional Act No. 5), announcing the weather forecast—a
    climate of rain and thunderstorms, a metaphor for the squeeze of the regime that was yet
    to follow.

    In another room of the exhibit, the public can view the works of artists who marked the
    difficult years with their work. Among them are Hélio Oiticica, Carlos Vergara, Nelson
    Leirner, and Rubens Gerchman.

    THEY DIDN’T
    KEEP QUIET

    The most difficult thing with the task of writing about nineteen-sixty-eight, is
    knowing when to stop. One could write a book—and many have—about the subject.
    Instead, we made the choice of talking about some of those icons of Brazilian culture, who
    were affected by as well as affected the military regime. These are some of their stories:

    Geraldo Vandré

    Singer-songwriter Geraldo Vandré was another musician who was shaking and stirring the
    music scene in a radical way. Vandré, whose first guitar teacher was the great João
    Gilberto, was born in 1935 in João Pessoa, Paraíba. From the start, he incorporated
    various aspects of Brazilian music in his own. He said himself, that he interpreted music
    in "an ideological more than a formal way," meaning that they served to create
    protest songs that had strong, angry lyrics.

    Vandré’s "ideological" adaptations had a distinctly progressive edge. In
    1966 and 67, he worked with Quarteto Novo, now a legendary group that included Hermeto
    Pascoal on flute. He early showed his social conscience in the work "Disparada"
    (Stampede), which told the story of a northeastern vaqueiro (cowboy) who is enraged
    that he and the other vaqueiros are treated like cattle. One day he rebels against
    the rancher. His fiery protest songs made Vandré a national hero who, armed with his
    guitar, was perceived as a serious threat by the military government.

    Vandré’s masterpiece, and the one for which he will always be remembered, is "Pra
    Não Dizer Que Não Falei de Flores" (Not to Say that I Didn’t Speak of Flowers), a
    song also known by the shorter name "Caminhando" (Walking). Brazilian journalist
    Millôr Fernandes considered it a Brazilian Marseillaise, a true national anthem.
    "Caminhando" took second place in Rio’s third international song festival in
    1968. The song was immediately banned by the censors for ten years. General Luís de
    Franca Oliveira presented his reasons for the prohibition of "Caminhando" in the
    defunct Rio’s daily Correio da Manhã (Morning Post), October 10th 1968,
    citing its "subversive lyrics, its offensiveness to the armed forces, and the fact
    that it would serve as a slogan for student demonstrations."

    He turned out to be right. After it was banned, it never ceased to be sung wherever
    people resisting the dictatorship gathered. It was still present at protests at the end of
    the 70’s when Brazilian society started to challenge the government, demanding a return to
    democracy. After Act No. 5 was invoked, Geraldo Vandré had to leave Brazil in order to
    ensure his own safety. From 1969-’73, he wandered through Chile, Algeria, Greece, Austria,
    Bulgaria, and finally France—where he made his only record during this time. When he
    returned to Brazil in 1973, he was arrested as soon as he arrived. A month later, he
    appeared on a national news program saying, among other things, that he hoped he could
    integrate his latest song with the new Brazilian reality, and that the connection made
    between his music and certain political groups had been made against his will.

    Most likely, this public statement was a sacrifice he had to make to be allowed to stay
    in the country. Subsequently, there were no more new songs from him, and he got rid of the
    stage name, Vandré. After 7 albums, his short career was over. Finally, there was Geraldo
    Dias, the lawyer. But he will always be remembered as the author of protest songs that
    made Brazilians stand and fight for what they believed was right.

    Pra Não Dizer Que Não
    Falei de Flores
    or Caminhando

    Geraldo Vandré

    Not to Say that I Didn’t
    Speak of Flowers
    or Walking

     

    Caminhando e cantando e seguindo a
    canção
    Somos todos iguais, braços dados ou não
    Nas escolas, nas ruas, campos,
    construções
    Caminhando e cantando e seguindo a canção

    Refrain:
    Vem, vamos embora que esperar não é saber
    Quem sabe faz a hora não
    espera acontecer

    Pelos campos a fome em grandes plantações
    Pelas ruas marchando indecisos cordões
    Ainda fazem da flor seu mais
    forte refrão
    E acreditam nas flores vencendo
    canhão

    Refrain

    Há soldados armados, amados ou não
    Quase todos perdidos de armas na mão
    Nos quartéis lhes ensinam uma
    antiga lição
    De morrer pela pátria e viver
    sem razão

    Refrain

    Nas escolas, nas ruas, campos,
    construções
    Somos todos soldados, armados ou não
    Caminhando e cantando e seguindo
    a canção
    Somos todos iguais, braços dados ou não

    Refrain

    Os amores na mente, as flores
    no chão
    A certeza na frente, a história na mão
    Caminhando e cantando e seguindo
    a canção
    Aprendendo e ensinando uma nova lição

    Refrain

    Walking and singing and following the song
    We’re all the same, arms linked or not
    In the schools, in the streets, fields,
    construction sites
    Walking and singing and following the song

    Refrain:
    Come, let’s go away hoping is not knowing
    Those who know will take action and not
    wait for it to happen

    In the fields the hunger on great plantations
    In the streets hesitant lines are marching 
    Still they make of the flower the
    strongest refrain
    And believe that the flowers can defeat
    the cannon

    Refrain

    There are armed soldiers, loved or not
    Almost all lost with weapons in hand
    In the barracks they teach them an
    ancient lesson
    To die for their country and live
    without reason

    Refrain

    In the schools, in the streets, fields,
    construction sites
    We’re all soldiers, armed or not
    Walking and singing and following
    the song
    We’re all the same, arms linked or not

    Refrain

    The lovers in mind, the flowers
    on the floor
    Certainty ahead, history in hand
    Walking and singing and following
    the song
    Learning and teaching a new lesson

    Refrain

    Chico Buarque

    The 1966 TV Record festival ended in a tie for first place between Geraldo Vandré and
    another young singer-songwriter, Chico Buarque de Holanda. A member of a prominent family
    of intellectuals—his great uncle Aurélio was responsible for the dictionary used by
    all of Brazilian society—he soon became popular with his lyrical songs. In fact, he
    was often touted as the heir-apparent to great samba-canção composers like Noel
    Rosa. His popularity was one of the few things a polarized Brazilian society could agree
    on.

    Every woman wanted to marry him, and every man admired him. To many, he appeared to be
    the true defender of traditional music against the furious attack of protest songs and the
    revolution proposed by Tropicália led by Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil, and the
    electric guitars of Jovem Guarda led by Roberto and Erasmo Carlos. In a time of such
    social strife, Chico Buarque’s traditional and doubtlessly beautiful music recalled a time
    when things were more secure and pleasant for the population. It did not matter where one
    came from in Brazilian society, all liked the handsome, green-eyed young singer with the
    nasal, Carioca (from Rio) voice. That is, until 1968. It is possible, that if he
    had known the reaction to his play Roda Viva, he might not have written and
    produced it. He ended up paying dearly for it.

    Chico did not like being idolized. He felt used and abused, and his answer to his fans’
    blind devotion came with this play. The expression roda viva means commotion. The
    drama tells the story of a young pop star who is literally devoured by the public. During
    the performances of the play, actors offered "pieces" of the star’s
    "liver" to the audience. That caused a scandal and an extreme backlash from
    conservatives as well as fans who felt insulted. Roda Viva marked the death of
    "nice guy" Chico Buarque.

    Perhaps because of his family, he was not as severely punished as others had been, but
    he did take off for Italy and did not come back for over a year. After his return, he was
    a favorite target of censors. In 1971, only one of every three songs he wrote was
    approved. Some were prohibited after being published, and others were published under
    various pseudonyms. One of the songs prohibited after its publication was "Apesar de
    Você," (In Spite of You), was actually banned after it became a hit. The censors
    must have missed the irony in the lyrics. In hindsight the words obviously are directed
    toward the government.

    Apesar de Você

    Chico Buarque de Holanda

    In Spite of You

    Apesar de Você
    Amanhã há de ser
    Outro dia
    Eu pergunto a você
    Onde vai se esconder
    Da enorme euforia
    Como vai proibir
    Quando o galo insistir
    Em cantar
    Água nova brotando
    E a gente se amando
    Sem parar

    In spite of you
    Tomorrow will be
    Another day.
    I ask you
    Where you will hide
    From the immense euphoria
    How will you prohibit
    When the rooster insists
    On singing
    New water springing up
    And we loving each other
    Without stopping

    Another song, "Carolina," appears to be a tribute to a woman
    and a song of a love affair gone wrong, but bears strong symbolism with the conditions in
    Brazil.

    Carolina

    Chico Buarque de Holanda

    Carolina

    Carolina
    Nos seus olhos fundos
    Guarda tanta dor
    A dor de todo esse mundo
    Eu já lhe expliquei que
    não vai dar
    Seu pranto não vai nada ajudar
    Eu já convidei para dançar
    É hora, já sei, de
    aproveitar
    Lá fora amor
    Uma rosa nasceu
    Todo mundo
    sambou
    Uma estrela caiu
    Eu bem que mostrei
    sorrindo
    Pela janela,
    ói que lindo
    Mas Carolina não viu

    Carolina
    Nos seus olhos tristes
    Guarda tanto amor
    O amor que já
    não existe
    Eu bem que avisei, vai acabar
    De tudo lhe dei
    para aceitar
    Mil versos cantei pra
    lhe agradar
    Agora não sei como
    explicar
    Lá fora, amor
    Uma rosa morreu
    Uma festa acabou
    Nosso barco partiu
    Eu bem que mostrei a ela
    O tempo passou na janela
    Só Carolina não viu

    Carolina
    In your deep eyes
    You keep so much pain
    The pain of the whole world
    I already explained that nothing
    will come of it
    That your weeping will not help
    I already invited you to dance
    It is time, I already know, to
    enjoy yourself
    Out there, love
    A rose was born
    The whole world danced
    the samba
    A star fell
    And though I showed you,
    smiling,
    Through the window,
    how lovely
    But Carolina didn’t see

    Carolina
    In your sad eyes
    You keep so much love
    A love that already
    doesn’t exist
    I warned you, it will end
    I gave you everything to
    accept it
    1000 verses I sang to
    please you
    Now I don’t know how
    to explain
    Out there, love
    A rose died
    A feast ended
    Our boat departed
    And though I showed her
    Time passed by the window
    Only Carolina didn’t see

    After some strong disagreements between Chico Buarque and Caetano Veloso
    and Gilberto Gil, the relationship was patched up after Caetano and Gil’s return from
    exile in London. Together with Gil, Chico Buarque wrote a powerful song,
    "Cálice," (Chalice). When they first attempted to perform it, police came on
    stage and turned off the microphones. The song was banned, but became yet another anthem
    against the dictatorship. Using powerful religious imagery, it was a metaphorical comment
    on repressive times and the silencing of an entire nation. Its clever and ironic title
    "Cálice" is a homophone for the phrase, "cale-se," shut up. It
    was recorded in a beautiful and haunting version by Chico Buarque and Milton Nascimento.

    Cálice

    Chico Buarque de Holanda and Gilberto Gil

    Chalice
     

    Como beber dessa bebida amarga
    Tragar a dor, engolir
    a labuta
    Mesmo calada a boca
    resta o peito
    Silêncio na cidade não se escuta
    De que me vale ser
    filho da santa
    Melhor seria ser filho da outra
    (to rhyme, the world here should
    be puta (whore) and not outra)
    Outra realidade menos morta
    Tanta mentira, tanta força bruta

    Como é difícil acordar calado
    Se na calada da noite eu
    me dano
    Quero lançar um grito desumano
    Que é uma maneira de ser escutado
    Esse silêncio todo me atordoa
    Atordoado eu permaneço atento
    Na arquibancada prá a qualquer momento
    Ver emergir o monstro da lagoa

    Pai, afasta de mim esse cálice
    Pai, afasta de mim esse cálice
    Pai, afasta de mim esse cálice
    De vinho tinto de sangue

    De muito gorda a porca já não anda
    De muito usada a faca já não corta
    Como é difícil, pai, abrir a porta
    Essa palavra presa na garganta
    Esse pileque homérico no mundo
    De que adianta ter boa vontade
    Mesmo calado o peito
    resta a cuca
    Dos bébados do centro da cidade

    Talvez o mundo não seja pequeno
    Nem seja a vida um fato consumado
    Quero inventar o meu próprio pecado
    Quero morrer do meu próprio veneno
    Quero perder de vez
    tua cabeça
    Minha cabeça perder teu juízo
    Quero cheirar fumaça de óleo diesel
    Me embriagar até que alguém me esqueça

    Pai, afasta de mim esse cálice
    Pai, afasta de mim esse cálice
    Pai, afasta de mim esse cálice
    De vinho tinto de sangue

     

    How to drink this bitter drink
    Sip this pain, swallow this
    hard labor
    Even if the mouth is silent, the
    chest remains
    You can’t hear silence in the city.
    What good does it do me to be
    the son of a saint
    It would be better to be the son
    of another

    Another reality, less dead,
    So many lies, so much brute force.

    How difficult it is to awaken silent
    If in the silence of the night I
    damn myself
    I want to launch an inhuman cry
    That is one way of being heard.
    All this silence leaves me senseless
    Senseless I remain alert
    In the bleachers at any minute
    See the monster of the lake emerge.

    Father, take this chalice from me
    Father, take this chalice from me
    Father, take this chalice from me
    Of wine, tinted with blood.

    Too fat, the pig doesn’t walk
    Too used, the knife doesn’t cut
    How hard, father, to open the door
    That word sticks in the throat
    This Homeric drunk in the world
    What use is it to have good will
    Even if the chest is silent, there are
    still the brains
    Of the drunks in the center of the city

    Maybe the world isn’t small
    Nor life a consummated fact
    I want to invent my own sin
    I want to die by my own poison
    I want to once and for all lose
    your head
    And my head lose your common sense
    I want to sniff the fumes of diesel oil.
    Get drunk until someone forgets me.

    Father, take this chalice from me
    Father, take this chalice from me
    Father, take this chalice from me
    Of wine, tinted with blood.

    The censors continued to hound Chico Buarque for the next several years.
    Practically none of his songs met with their approval. Apparently beaten by the system,
    Buarque recorded only covers of other people’s songs. Sinal Fechado (Red Light)
    contained songs by Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil, Noel Rosa, Toquinho, and an unknown
    newcomer, Julinho da Adelaide.

    The press material for the album contained a bio of the songwriter, but he did not
    actually exist. He was an alter ego for Chico Buarque. After that, composers sending
    material to be censored, had to include a copy of their identification card. To this day,
    Chico Buarque’s songs are loved and remembered with fondness by those who lived through
    the 60’s.

    Tropicália:
    Caetano and Gil.

    On Praça da Sé in Pelourinho in the Centro Histórico in Salvador, stands a bust of
    Bishop Sardinha who was eaten by Indians in the early days. Caetano Veloso says in a piece
    made for PBS, "Brazil was born the day the Indians ate Bishop Sardinha
    (sardine)." In 1928, Paulista (from São Paulo) poet Oswald de Andrade wrote
    the "manifesto of cannibalism" in which he discussed the concept of artistic
    cannibalism in which impressions of other cultures are devoured and re-elaborated
    "with autonomy" as Andrade said.

    Singer composers Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil adopted this concept with gusto and
    went with it. An ambient-art piece by Hélio Oiticica gave name to the Tropicalismo or
    Tropicália movement. It shocked—not just the military—but practically everybody
    else. In the late 60’s, music festivals were the craze. Commonly, the streets were quiet
    on those nights when people were either attending the festivals or watching them on
    television. Often, fan behavior was much like that of soccer fans. The audiences would
    support their favorites with flags and applause and attempt to disrupt their
    "rivals."

    Many members of the audience were intensely nationalistic. Brazil had for a long time
    been isolated from the rest of the world, and the majority of people had a strong
    reverence for "authentic" Brazilian music. Therefore, when Caetano Veloso,
    backed by Os Beat Boys, a rock group, performed "Alegria, Alegria" (Joy, Joy) he
    was not well received. In fact, he was booed. One might say, in an editorial comment, that
    revolutions happen in this way—through shock, outrage, and emotional involvement.
    Although the Tropicália movement was short-lived, it did change forever the face of MPB
    (Música Popular Brasileira—Brazilian Popular Music).

    If the audience was taken aback by the music and fragmented imagery in the lyrics, so
    must the military and their censors have hated it. The lyrics smacked openly of disrespect
    for law and order. And yet, Caetano says that he did not have major problems with the
    censors—not as many other artists had. He would have other problems.

    Alegria, Alegria

    Caetano Veloso

    Joy, Joy

    Caminhando contra o vento
    Sem lenço, sem
    documento
    No sol de quase dezembro
    Eu vou
    O sol se reparte em crimes
    Espaçonaves, guerrilhas
    Em Cardinales* bonitas
    Eu vou
    Em caras de presidentes
    Em grandes beiaw6kx de amor
    Em dentes, pernas, bandeiras
    Bomba e Brigitte Bardot
    O sol nas bancas de revista
    Me enche de alegria e preguiça
    Quem lê tanta notícia
    Eu vou
    Por entre fotos e nomes
    Os olhos cheios de cores
    O peito cheio de amores vãos
    Eu vou
    Por que não, por que não
    Ela pensa em casamento
    E eu nunca mais fui à escola
    Sem lenço sem
    documento
    Eu vou
    Eu tomo uma coca-cola
    Ela pensa em casamento
    E uma canção me consola
    Eu vou
    Por entre fotos e nomes
    Sem livros e sem fuzil
    Sem fome sem telefone
    No coração do Brasil
    Ela nem sabe
    até pensei
    Em cantar na televisão
    O sol é tão bonito
    Eu vou, sem lenço sem
    documento
    Nada no bolso, ou
    nas mãos
    Eu quero seguir vivendo, amor
    Eu vou
    Por que não, por que não?

    Walking against the wind
    Without handkerchief, without
    document
    In the almost December sun
    I go
    The sun scatters in crimes
    Spaceships, guerillas
    In beautiful Cardinales*
    I go
    In the faces of presidents
    In great kisses of love
    In teeth, legs, flags
    The bomb and Brigitte Bardot
    The sun on the newsstand
    Fills me with happiness and laziness
    Who reads so much news
    I go
    Among photos and names
    My eyes filled with colors
    My breast filled with useless loves
    I go
    Why not, why not
    She thinks of marriage
    And I never went back to school
    Without handkerchief, without
    document
    I go
    I drink a Coca-Cola
    She thinks of marriage
    And a song consoles me
    I go
    Among photos and names
    Without books and without rifle
    Without hunger, without telephone
    In the heart of Brazil
    She doesn’t even know that
    I thought of
    Singing on television
    The sun is so beautiful
    I go, without handkerchief,
    without document
    Nothing in my pockets or in
    my hands
    I want to go on living, love
    I go
    Why not, why not?

    *refers to Italian actress
    Claudia Cardinale

    Gilberto Gil, Caetano’s long time friend and soul-brother, appeared
    with "Domingo no Parque" which received a better reaction. Arranged by Rogério
    Duprat, it did represent a musical revolt, incorporating Bahian capoeira rhythms,
    electric instrumentation, and cinematic lyrics.

    One of the war-cries from Paris—along with "Make love, not war" was
    "Prohibiting is prohibited." "É Proibido Proibir" became the name of
    one of Caetano Veloso’s songs. He presented it during the International Song Festival
    backed by the rock group Os Mutantes (The Mutants), who were dressed in plastic clothes.
    The negative reaction of the audience prevented Caetano from finishing the song. He broke
    into an extemporaneous speech, castigating the audience. "Vocês não estão
    entendendo nada, nada, nada, absolutamente nada," You are understanding nothing,
    nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing. The speech became famous, but it did take some time
    before it was understood. His angry words continued, "You all want to police
    Brazilian music. Gil and I are here to do away with the imbecility that rules
    Brazil."

    A constant thorn in the side of the military government, Caetano and Gil continued on
    their thought-provoking paths. The dictatorship, although they could find no overt threats
    to national security, feared that the Tropicália movement might prove persuasive to a new
    generation of Brazilians and lead them into alternative life styles involving drugs,
    chaos, and free thinking. The inevitable happened. Both of them were arrested and thrown
    in jail, followed by house arrest and 2 ½ years of exile in London.

    Says Caetano of that time, " The military weren’t music critics, they didn’t put
    Tropicalistas in jail in 1968 because our music wasn’t Brazilian enough. They did it
    because it represented anarchy, violence, danger for the behavior of families, relations
    between generations, respect, religion. Maybe they were right. Maybe what happened during
    the 60’s was kids’ rubbish, neo-romanticism. I was so naïve. I believed good things
    always had good results. We wanted to liberate everything! And then, one morning, we were
    put in a cell."

    Caetano found the experience almost unbearable. He and Gil were in the same prison, but
    could not see each other. They were told nothing and were not allowed a lawyer. After some
    time in solitary confinement where he slept next to the toilet, Caetano was moved to a
    cell with so many people, everybody could not sleep at the same time. Some of the older
    prisoners helped by encouraging to prayer, although the prison guards often took away
    their rosaries.

    One incident (the facts of which are controversial) that might have contributed to
    landing Caetano and Gil in prison, appeared in Zuenir Ventura’s book 1968, the year
    that didn’t end. It tells the story of how "a certain" radio journalist,
    Randall Juliano, reported about a Tropicalista show at the nightclub Sucata, telling his
    audience that Caetano and Gil had sung the national anthem with obscene lyrics and defaced
    the flag. Supposedly, Mr. Juliano called the attention of authorities to the show.
    Caetano, in a 1992 interview with Jô Soares—Brazil’s Johnny Carson, whose show Onze
    e Meia (Eleven Thirty), is aired on SBT daily—said that he believed this was the
    direct cause of his and Gil’s arrest and imprisonment, although the flag was actually part
    of artist Hélio Oiticica’s portion of the show.

    Gil supports this account of the events. He says he heard the story in prison of how
    Mr. Juliano had announced that he and Caetano had sung the national anthem and then set
    the flag on fire. Randall Juliano, as one might expect, tells a somewhat different story.
    "I did a commentary on the journalistic program Guerra é Guerra (War is War),
    on TV Record. I read a notice from a newspaper, I forget which one, that reported how
    Caetano and Gil had performed a disrespectful act with the national symbol." He says
    furthermore that he was upset with Zuenir Ventura, because he called him "a certain
    Randall Juliano." "I was quite well known then," he emphasizes.

    To close the circle, Zuenir Ventura commented, "He (Randall Juliano) didn’t speak
    of this just once. This guy waged a campaign on radio and television. It was an official
    at the barracks who told me that Caetano and Gil were imprisoned because of this campaign
    by Randall Juliano." This incident was merely one small sample of the suspicion and
    lack of trust among Brazilians during a time when fear of your neighbor was commonplace.

    Casualties of 1968

    On the 10th of November 1972, the poet Torquato Neto—who wrote the
    Tropicália hymn "Geléia Geral" (General Jelly) in partnership with Gilberto
    Gil—sealed the windows in his Rio apartment and turned on the gas. He was 28. He had
    just come from a stay in a psychiatric hospital. He left a body of work, small in quantity
    but vast in creativity and quality. Brazilian Rolling Stone published a full-page
    portrait with the inscription: Torquato Neto 1944-1972.

    The story resembles that of other Tropicalistas. Ex-Mutantes musician Arnaldo Baptista
    also received psychiatric treatment, and in 1981, he threw himself out a 4th
    floor window but did not die. In an article in Folha de São Paulo—considered
    by many the best newspaper in Brazil—of May ’85, author Ruy Castro says that Torquato
    Neto was the ideologue of Tropicália with distinctive participation by Caetano Veloso and
    Gilberto Gil. He further says in the article that Torquato Neto came to "bring
    dissonance to the chorus of contentment," which he thought was the Brazilian culture
    of the avant-garde of the last years of the sixties, mixing information about rock, super
    8 (a mania of the time) and plastic art. In later years he was more interested in poetry
    and cinema than music.

    The death of Torquato Neto shocked the structure of the Tropicalistas and their
    followers. But Tropicália was already driven home. In 1973 Wally Salomão organized the
    material written by the author of "Geléia Geral" in "Os Últimos Dias de
    Paupéria" The Last Days of the Paupers. In 1982, Wally and Ana Maria Duarte
    re-issued the work, revised and expanded. And now, the publishing house José Olympio
    brings to the market a 3rd version with unpublished works by the poet, exchange
    of letters between him and the artist Oiticica, as well as lyrics left out of the previous
    two editions. Torquato lives!

    Rogério Duarte is a graphic artist from Bahia. The above mentioned Ruy Castro called
    him the father of Tropicália. Duarte is, as described by Caetano Veloso in his book Verdade
    Tropical (Tropical Truth), one of those rare characters whose minds are sufficiently
    open and brilliant to see past personal preferences and cut through to the quick. He
    criticized the left and right without discrimination when he found the seeds of oppression
    in either camp—a fact that was seen as a threat by both. In fact, the leader of the
    UNE (União Nacional de Estudantes) of whom he was a friend, gave him the nickname
    Rogério Caos. The pejorative value of this nickname hurt him doubly: They called
    that—which in him was most logical and constructive—chaotic, and despised the
    chaos in him, which he on another level, was capable of loving.

    Rogério Duarte, a central figure in Caetano’s book, tortured by the military in 1968,
    left his cell at the barracks for a room at the Pinel Hospital, a Rio infamous psychiatric
    institution. And now, 30 years later, in an interview in O Globo (Rio’s leading
    newspaper), he asks, "Why didn’t I die, why do the friends still quote me?" The
    response for those who went along with the Tropicália trajectory, is in the strength of
    this movement, which still today has seeds sprouting.

    In May of this year, an article appeared in the Salvador (capital of Bahia state)
    newspaper A Tarde, which compared the mindset of the college age generation of 1998
    versus 1968. It quotes a number of students on their view of the current generation. João
    Gomes, 20, a student of agronomy says on the subject of 1968, "That was, without a
    doubt, an era marked by the movement of students and all of society. But I don’t see my
    friends interested in it. Everybody just wants to watch television, go shopping, and
    partying."

    Another young person, Patrícia Thomas, 14, admits that she and her classmates don’t
    worry much about student politics. She believes that individualism and conformist thinking
    are to blame for this lack of interest in changing the establishment. "We are
    submersed in our individualism," she says. Iberê Jones, 18, finds that the 90’s have
    produced people who are not accustomed to political lingo, civics, and taking a stand.
    "From where I am, I see my friends without the willingness to question. People just
    read what is required in school, only like what the media like. We speak of civil
    obligations in the classroom but not beyond."

    The article was entitled "O Sonho Acabou" (The Dream Ended). Is the
    conclusion, then, that it was all for naught? Personally, I’d like to think that those who
    lived through the hardship paved the way for the complacency of today; I’d also like to
    think that if the situation suddenly were to revert to 1968 conditions, the new generation
    would find in them the strength to fight for change.

    Bibliography

    These are some of the sources without which I could not have written the above article.
    I want to thank those who did all the work for me.
    The Brazilian Sound by Chris McGowan and Ricardo Pessanha, Billboard Books, 1991
    Why is this Country Dancing by John Krich, Simon and Schuster, 1993
    Esse Cara by Heber Fonseca, Editora Revan, 1995
    Geração em Transe by Luís Carlos Maciel, Editora Nova Fronteira, 1996
    Verdade Tropical by Caetano Veloso, Companhia das Letras, 1997
    Estado de S. Paulo (daily newspaper) from April article about protest
    marches of 1968
    "25 anos sem Torquato" (25 years without Torquato) by Iza Calbo, October 5th,
    1997 in A Tarde, newspaper of Salvador, Bahia

    Kirsten Weinoldt was born in Denmark and came to the U.S. in 1969. She
    fell in love with Brazil after seeing Black Orpheus many years ago and has lived
    immersed in Brazilian culture ever since. E-mail: kwracing@erols.com

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