[Fwd: Re.: (Portuguese) FHC on murder of a landless protester: "A warning]

Chris Brady chris_brady at SPAMearthling.net
Wed Oct 25 11:36:12 MDT 2000


Nota Bene:

FHC refers to Fernando Henrique Cardoso, the President of the Republic
of the United States of Brazil.  FHC is how his name appears in the
Brazilian press.

MST is O Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem-Terra (The Brazilian
Landless Workers Movement), “the largest social movement in Latin
America and one of the most successful grassroots movements in the
world.” MST has an English language website:
http://www.mstbrazil.org/index.html, with links to articles by James
Petras among others.  The main website in Portuguese, however, provides
the most up-to-date information about the struggle (for e.g., see end of

this message).

Nestor sent in a critique from a conference of left/alternative media in

Brazil that castigated FHC for his public declaration that the police
murder of an MST activist should serve as a “warning” to the Brazilian
people.  The mainstream media fell in line with the head of state by
editorializing about the “terror” perpetrated by the MST, often simply
unarmed, starving people.  The leftists noted that certain advertising
agencies were warned by the state security apparatus not to do business
with the left/alternative media.  They also noted state police charged a

demonstration of school teachers, injuring 38. The media activists
concluded that the state had initiated a war against the people, and
FHC’s warning was, in effect, his declaration of war.

    We should take note of the condition of the impoverished masses in
the largest and most dynamic and dominant economy in Latin America.
Periodic drought and famine in the northeastern regions periodically
imperil millions of people.  Crime in the cities stampede the rich into
walled compounds defended by heavily armed, modern security teams.
Police tidy up the streets by killing off homeless children who are such

a bother to honest, hard-working citizens.  Meanwhile the noble
President FHC (who defends the Republic with high-handed threats to the
masses) is now mired in a corruption scandal that seems to have
penetrated every level of government.  Basically, the pitiless greed of
the ruling class knows no limits except on the freedom of the masses to
live decent lives.  And the poor workers are portrayed as the
perpetrators of class war.

Nestor continues:
Chris Brady dijo:

> …The "warning" is a warning indeed.
> A warning that the President is insane.
> But perhaps not in the context of his system...?

Not at all in the context of his system, nor in the historical record
of murder that the Brazilian ruling classes display. I have been
reading a lot on Brazil recently, and the most striking feature that
arises is the absolute lack of interest of the Brazilian oligarchs
for the lives of the poor. They have been, for long five centuries
without a single day's respite, conscious murderers of human beings.

Darcy Ribeiro's _O povo brasileiro_ (People of Brazil) is dramatic
in this sense. And Darcy has never been a Marxist, mind you, he has
been more of a  revolutionary bourgeois nationalist...

Ribeiro may be helpful in contextualizing FHC historically.
This is a clumsy translation (from Portuguese to English by a Spanish
speaking guy who babbles both Portuguese and English). But I am sure
it will prove a good background.  (Note that the translation is direct;
the masculine pronoun is retained. Although it could be read in the
general sense to include both feminine and masculine, stronger males
were the preferred beasts of burden.  Chris Brady copy edited.):

"Made prisoner at fifteen in his own land, as if game caught in a
net, he was dragged by the "pombeiro" -African slave merchant [note 1]-
to the seashore, where he was exchanged for tobacco, aguardiente
or trinkets. He was then convoyed, neck tied to neck to other black
people in a row, and force-marched to the port and the _tumbeiro_[n.2].
He was then thrown into a ship’s hold in the midst of another hundred
slaves  to grab some meager space for his own, to eat badly and shit
badly in that same place, amidst the most fetid stench.  If he managed
to survive the journey, he fell into another market, this side of the
Ocean, where he was examined as if a horse.  Slave shoppers
evaluated his teeth, noted the size of fists and ankles, and then he was

put up for auction.  A new convoy then took him now inland to the
Lord of the Mines or of the Sugar Plantations, that is, to his destiny
prescribed by civilization: eighteen hours of work a day, each day of
the year. On Sundays, he was allowed to till a patch of land, to
hungrily gobble the small and repugnant allowance of meat per week
that restored his capacities to work again the day after to complete

"Without love from anyone, without family, without any sex but for
masturbation, with no possible identification with anyone in sight -
the foreman could be a black man, fellow partners in misfortune,
but an enemy-, in rags, dirty, ugly, stinking, and sick, lacking any
kind of joy or pride in his own body, he lived through his routine.
The routine consisted in living the whole day under the daily
punishment of isolated whippings to have him work attentively
and in tension. A preventive punishment fell each week on him, a
pedagogic punishment lest he thought of escaping.  When he called
attention to himself he incurred an exemplary punishment such as
mutilation of the fingers, piercing of the breasts, burning with hot
embers, careful breaking of teeth, lashing at the pillory (three
hundred lashes at once to kill,  fifty lashes a day to survive).
If he escaped and was captured, he could be branded by a red-hot iron,
have a tendon cut, be fettered to an iron ball for life, be burnt alive
--either in an agony of days just at the opening of a blazing furnace,
 or at once thrown into it to flare up like an oily rag.

"No people on Earth can traverse this daily routine century after
century without an ineffaceable stamp.  All of us Brazilians are
flesh of the flesh of those tormented Blacks and Indians. All of us
Brazilians are, at the same time, the possessed hand that tormented
them. The most tender of sweetnesses and the most atrocious cruelty
mingle here to turn us into the sensitive and long-suffering people
that we are, and the remorseless and brutish people that we also are.
We come down from slaves and slaveowners, and we shall always
serve the malignity introduced and distilled in ourselves--as well as
through the feeling of the pain intentionally made to be more painful
still as through the exertion of brutality on men, on women, on
children turned into fodder for our rage.

"The most tremendous of our heritages is this one of carrying the scar
of the torturer printed on our soul, ready to burst out in racist and
classist brutality.  This is what burns, still today, in all those
high Brazilian officials determined to torment, maim and deal so
cruelly with those poor that fall into their hands.  Nevertheless, this
is what will generate a growing sense of outrage and tomorrow will
provide us with the force that puts the possessed ones at bay and
let us create our community of solidarity here".

Ribeiro, Darcy. _O povo brasileiro: evolução e sentido do Brasil_.
São Paulo, Companhia das Letras, 1995. pp. 119-120


1. Translator's comment: there is a monster in the popular folklore of
the Argentinian Northeast, an area that was ravaged by the
"bandeirante" -that is, "flag followers"- slave hunters coming from
São Paulo during the 17th. Century; this monster uses to wait for
women along lonely roads in the jungle, rape them and kidnap their
children; and it is known as --"pombero"!

2. Translator's note: probably, a warehouse and market for slaves.

Doesn't the above provide the adequate background to Cardoso's folly?

A hug,

Néstor Miguel Gorojovsky
gorojovsky at arnet.com.ar

P.S.: As to the Babel translation, well, it is more or less good.
I am no speaker of Portuguese so I would not modify it.  One thing:
the magazine's name, Caros Amigos, means "Dear Friends", not "Expensive
Friends". I know that in England you can take "dear" for "expensive",
which can happen with "caro" in Brazil. But still...

Nestor, here is a quick translation of a couple of recent reports off
 MST’s Portuguese site:

D. Pedro Casaldáliga, bishop of Saint Félix of Araguaia, comments
about the offensive of the government against the MST. …
[N.B.: RC Church acknowledges gov't mobilization against the poor. and
there is more; both pieces came out today or yesterday:]

FHC Increases Repression against the Landless
Aumenta repressão de FHC contra sem terra

The number of workers assassinated in the fight for Agrarian Reform has
increased considerably. In the first ten months of this year ten (10)
MST workers were killed, while in all of 1999 five (5) militant
agricultural workers of the MST had been assassinated.
O número de trabalhadores assassinados na luta pela
Reforma Agrária aumentou consideravelmente. Apenas nestes
dez meses do ano foram mortos dez trabalhadores ligados ao
MST, enquanto que em 1999 foram assassinados cinco
trabalhadores rurais militantes do MST.

The murders mean the end of the legitimacy of the Democratic State
because the State has lost control and cannot guarantee the elementary
human right: Life.
Os assassinatos significam o fim do Estado Democrático de
Direito porque o Estado perdeu o controle e não garante o
direito elementar do Ser Humano: a vida.

My note:
The State actually guarantees that if one goes against the status quo
one should expect the consequences as per the Presidential warning:

--Nestor MG y Chris B.


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