LXXXIV - (Re)leituras - A Inconfidência Mineira - uma síntese factual, by Márcio Jardim - Comments by André Bandeira

Which one of the attempted revolutions, before Brazil's independence, was able to set the mood for the first portuguese nation, out of Portugal? Márcio Jardim has no doubts, in this superb synthesis of the main studies and evidences available, dating back to 1885 - 1889: it was the «Inconfidência» which set the idea of an independent Brazil. A portuguese philosopher and historian of ideas, Esteves Pereira, wisely says that it is always very difficult for us to know what our ancestors really believed in, unless we could live, again, in their times. One aspect of what really moved those hundred, probably thousands of portuguese and brazilians, has also very much to do with the inception of freemasonry in Brazil. There were two proven freemasons among the conspirators, but Márcio Jardim adds a dozen more, as very plausible. On the other hand, the respected historian Oilian José excludes the only conspirator who has been executed, the «Tiradentes». This raises questions, not only about the solidarity among the pioneers of that creed in Brazil, as well as on its consistence. The myth that «Tiradentes» never existed, or that he escaped and even died peacefully in Portugal, may have something to do with it. It is clear that there was, that time, a masonic hit in a burgeoning Brazil, but so was in Portugal. Persecutors and rebels shared the same values about the future of the civilized world, some were monarchists, and some other were republicans, all of them setting secret lodges, to freely discuss among people who were bound not to disclose the subjects, outside. At the same time, some believed that the freemason framework was the only one able to guarantee them mutual assistance and communion of ideas, whereas some others believed that freemasonry gave them leverage by some world power, that including Portugal, where the autocrat Pombal had been a freemason too. Awkwardly,some of the leaders were priests with a stern jesuitic background. The Prince João decreed a perpetual silence on the lawsuit and, later, already as João, the Sixth, he set out an unified kingdom of Portugal and Brazil. But the «Inconfidência» was not a masonic movement. More than secrets, there were conflicting passions and allegiances. For the passions, freemasonry spread quickly on a «shock and awe» ideological method, inflammed with myths of «popular science», as a countervalue to the opposite bigot practices. As for the allegiances, the third President of United States, Thomas Jefferson, who was then a sybiline ambassador in Paris, decided not to help the conspirators and later became a «de facto» ally of the United Kingdom against Napoleon. By that time, some of the conjectural freemasons, once on the side of the repression, such as the Duke of Barbacena, Governor of Minas Gerais, later became allies of Napoleon, the invader and butcher of their own country.I venture to say that if the «Inconfidência» had ever managed to crack the eggshell, Brazil would have had with Portugal a much deeper and far-reaching «special relationship», than the one binding today the USA and United Kingdom.


LXXXIII - (Re)leituras: Cláudio Manuel da Costa by Laura de Mello e Souza - Comments by André Bandeira

Some are aware that there was an attempt, once upon the final years of the
XVIII century, in Brazil, of declaring the independence of the Province of Minas Gerais from the Portuguese Crown. The regime which held that time, in Lisbon, was a kind of illuminist despotism of which foundations were the ones set by the autocratic Marquis of Pombal,a mercantilist, busy in keeping all the gold he could gather from distant regions such as Minas Gerais, in Brazil. In the rush for gold, there was an accumulation of immigrants, slaves, culture and power in that region, not very faraway from Rio de Janeiro, but still protected by a double mountain range. At a certain point in time, a group of the local ruling class decide to forge a conspiracy which was delated by some of the conspirators, who had to gain both from the conspiracy's success and from its timely delation, since they were crushed under debts to the Crown. In 1789 the conspiracy was uncovered, most of its members were sentenced to death and automatically sent to exile in Africa, all except one, a lieutenant, Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, named the «Tiradentes» (dentist), who became not the first, but the most coherent martyr of Brazil's cause for independence. But, among the conspirators, there was an old and respected magistrate who didn't get to be interrogated by the Viceroy in Rio. He was Cláudio Costa, who got arrested in Vila Rica de Ouro Preto, by the local Governor, and who was found hanged in his cell before the Viceroy's envoyees could reach him. People say that his obscure suicide made brazilian politics, thereafter, forever secretive and mistrustful. As a matter of fact, Cláudio Costa was the only one to disclose during his first interrogation that there was a plan for the local Governor, the Viscount of Barbacena, an illuminist portuguese aristocrat who was sent to Brazil because of his far-reaching ideas, to become a kind of Emperor in an independent Minas Gerais. Kenneth Mawxell, author of «Conflicts and Conspiracies: Brazil & Portugal 1750-1808» thinks Cláudio has been assassinated, as a good half of brazilian historians does. In this book, Laura de Mello e Souza explores the divided soul of an old magistrate and respected poet, the only one who genuinely hesitated between Monarchy and Republic, and concludes with his suicide. The «Inconfidência mineira» (the name of the crime the conspirators have been accused of, that meaning the treason to the Crown) will go on having a corpse which cannot be fully explained.