CXXXVI (Re)leituras - Getúlio, by Lira Neto (2nd)Volume, comments by André Bandeira

Second volume of the biography of former dictator Getúlio Vargas, of Brazil, by the journalist Lira Neto. The former volume was published last year. It is a pleasure reading it.Major findings: the cover has two quotes, one by the former President Fernando Henrique Cardozo and the other from his follower, the also former President Lula. Both of those quotes completely ignore the fact that Vargas was a dictator and had blood in his hands. Well, who cares? Blood in the hands seems to give that little bit of tone which makes our interest and curiosity more compelling than our responsibility. We are not reading to change the world. We are reading to enjoy it, otherwise we wouldn't set aside some of our time, to let the eyes navigate in the graphics. Other major findings: this second volume confirms the idea that, in Brazil, the Left and the Right have both the same origins,that means the young lieutenant movement in the twenties. I had a discussion on that matter with two brazilian labour leaders: one only kept me asking whether the distinction between Left and Right was so clearcut in Europe. I answered him that it depended on the countries (in Spain it was clearcut, but in Italy one couldn't ignore neither that the most radical and beloved Left wing leader, Benito Mussolini, had been the founder of Fascism, nor that he was no lonerider in that endeavour, by all means). The second of both of my occasional interlocutors, sort of excused himself by saying that the brazilian state was a very centralized and authoritarian one. The other finding amounts to no novelty: the dictator Vargas worked as a family clan, transferred from the South, with his sons and daughters placed or led to in key-positions. The cronology is easy: «liberal-democrat» movement in 1930, which takes Vargas to the top and casts away the old republic; 1932, reaction by the cosmopolitan middle-classes and oligarchs from S.Paulo; 1936, military movement led by the communists; 1938, attempt by the fascists to seize power and kill the dictator. All along, Vargas always manages to hold the reins and act as the «Time» once described him, a «democratic opportunist». The author shares the strange cult of Vargas: he emphazises that, in 1936, he managed to outwit the military and prevent the comunists to line up in front of the death squad. On the other hand, in 1938, the military lined up the fascists who assaulted the President's residence, and shooted them against the wall, on the spot.Here, the author seems to alleviate Vargas'responsibility.In conclusion: somewhere in the western shores, where there was room to procrastinate some decisive duels, settled in Europe, fascism and communism where no twin ideas. They were the very same idea.They also shared some genetical military nurturing. Moreover, in the genealogy of ideas, the most enthusiastic defenders of Nazism and Fascism, managed to show up, in the last days of the Second World War, as enthusiastic defenders of the re-democratization. The historical leader of the Communist movement, the once lieutenant Luís Carlos Prestes, nicknamed «Knight of Hope», was released from jail by the dictator and openly supported him to stay in power, against the US push. It is not impossible that Vargas was playing the soviet card against Washington, in 1945, the same way he played the nazi card in 1939, and the US card against Rome and Berlin in 1942. The author depicts us a dictator who wanted to modernize Brazil, resorting to alternate foreign reserves. But he did believe instrinsically in a republican authoritarian tradition. He has been more than once, close to commit suicide. Was he a patriot? At the very inception of his ideas he despised tradition and he cherished authoritarianism. He was deeply convinced that the Education he received and the conclusions he got to were self-evident and that, despite being a small, secondary child of a patriarch he had been unctioned as leader of an imperial Republic who, despite his tiny features, lectured History and Nature on the revenge of human humilliation. That's why he looks like so much as Buster Keaton. He is the revenge of a silent movie against radio stars such as Roosevelt, Churchill, Hitler, or Mussolini.

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