Dom Helder Camara dies.

Carlos Eduardo Rebello crebello at
Mon Aug 30 11:31:36 MDT 1999

The death of Father Helder (as he liked to be called) was something that
rekindled memories in our family, since he was a friend of my late
grandfather and had celebrated my parents' wedding ceremony. My mother
remembered that he had to be reminded of the necessity of drinking a
glass of water, since he was an ascetic to the marrow and a powerful
orator. It's necassary, by the way, to be reminded of the fact that
father Helder, in his youth during the 30s, had been a member of the
facist Integralist movement, and the fact that he made a leftwards move
opposed to what the majority does in such cases is something to be
heartily praised. Also, it must be remembered, amidst all the
understanable hipocrisy of the mourning, that he was never created a
cardinal, and that in the last 15 years of his life he was pratically in
disgrace and had all social work in his former diocesis dismantled by
the new bishop, who was a personal choice of pope John Paul 2nd;
something similar happening with the bishop and cardinal of São Paulo
Arns, who had his diocesis dismembered in the 80s.

It is of course entirely legitimate to feel a sense of loss about the
death of someone who fought against the military dictatorship in the
name of the simplest notions of humanity and commonsense morals. To put
into a nutshell, one somehow misses the time when fighting for what is
right was simpler than today, when the Cardoso regime has already
caused, I think, more loss of life and health than the entire string of
generals that ruled Brazil between 1964 and 1985, but remains in power
due to the absence of clear thinking in the opposition, parliamentary
cretinism that makes a fetish of electoral politics (in the march that
congregated between 75,000 and 100,000 people inm Brasilia last
thursday, there were lots of 'leaders' that almost apologized for
Brizola bringing in the notion that the final goal should be the ousting
of Cardoso) and the skillful manipulation by the bourgeois media of the
infamous TINA - "there is no alternative" tag.

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