March 31/April 1, 1964

Dora Longo Bahia, Unknown I, 1996 Oil on canvas 68 x 54 cm.


In addition to practicing torture and other crimes against humanity, the Military Dictatorship of 64 was not even committed to the truth about the date of its implementation.

The civil-military coup that took place in Brazil in 1964 began with a fake news or at least a substantial doubt. What was your day anyway? “The process may have started on the 31st of March, but the regime came into effect on the 1st of April”, points out Marcos Antonio Silva, professor of history at USP.[I]

For most historians there is no doubt, because what marks the fall of power via coup (removal of the constitutionally elected president) is his departure from office, which occurred on April 1st. Therefore, saying that the coup took place on March 31 is “fake news”. But why did this happen?

April 1st is known in Brazil and around the world as “April Fools’ Day”. The date is so successful that, in addition to serving frequent pranks, it is used as a strategy to confuse opponents. I will excuse myself here to make a brief report that illustrates this strategy.

In my small hometown in Minas Gerais, at the end of the 1th century and the beginning of the 1th century. XX, there was a vigilante very famous for his courage, good aim and absolute intolerance of any setback he suffered. His nickname was Juca Bedão, a legend in those parts. As it couldn't be otherwise, Juca had a collection of enemies, who really wanted to see him dead. But they were afraid to kill him because there was a rumor that his brothers, who lived in another city, were also expert marksmen and would certainly come after their brother's killers to avenge his death. The solution they found was to hire two or three jagunços who ambushed and killed Juca Bedão on April XNUMXst. The news of his death went around, but someone always said: – Oh, it can only be April XNUMXst! So, when the fact came to the knowledge of the brothers, it was clouded with that doubt. By the time the brothers confirmed that he had indeed been killed, the assassins were long gone.

Therefore, the justification for not admitting that the civil-military coup took place on April 1st is as bizarre as the story above, albeit in the opposite direction. Bedão's murderers wanted to say that the death took place on the 1st of April so as not to believe in it; the dictatorship did not want people to say that the coup took place on April 1st so that they would believe it and not make any jokes about that “so important” act. Check it out:

The fact that soldiers and supporters of the movement celebrate March 31 as the date of the “revolution” is an attempt to escape jokes with April Fools' Day. “Whoever implemented the dictatorship wanted to escape the jokes, which they called the lie regime.” […] “The best date to mark the coup is April 1st, before that President João Goulart was still in power”, considers Luiz Antonio Dias, historian of PUC-SP (Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo). ”[ii]

That is, until the beginning of the dictatorship in 1964 it was a bizarre thing that our history books kept repeating without any kind of questioning. In fact, as we know, everything became a party with that March 31st, the day of the “glorious revolution”. Bridges, viaducts, schools, clubs and others with the name of March 31 appeared, in a regrettable commemoration of a coup d'état.

With the end of the military dictatorship, in 1985, and the promulgation of the new Constitution in 1988, these places gradually had their names replaced and celebrating the 31st of March became something that was frowned upon and done somewhat secretly in some retirement clubs and nostalgic for the authoritarian and murderous regime.

But the dictatorship was so effective in erasing the real meaning and gravity of the coup from the population's memory that virtually no one cared or wanted to know whether the 1964 coup took place on March 31st or April 1st. In fact, there was no question of even knowing exactly what had happened. The essential thing in these 80s and 90s was that democracy was back. And that seemed to be enough.

In the 2000s, the adoption of transitional justice measures finally began in Brazil. The thousands of victims produced, the unburied bodies, the lack of answers for the families of the dead and disappeared did not allow everything to become oblivion, as the agents of the dictatorship and their guarantors wanted. Among these transitional measures were the payment of indemnities, the construction of memory spaces, the publication of books, the filing of some accountability actions[iii]  and the 31st of March, previously celebrated as if it were something positive, started to be remembered for what it was: a criminal act that caused profound damage in the country. Remembering this meaning became more important than the mere question of the date.

This whole transitional justice movement, however, gave rise to a contrary reaction on the part of those already mentioned who missed the authoritarian and murderous regime. For them, denying their ills became imperative and they began to bet their chips no longer on oblivion, but on changing the narrative. It was necessary to reject and reformulate what the National Truth Commission, even late but sovereignly implanted in the country, had laid bare.

The result of this is also very well known. In 2016, we had the overthrow of a constitutionally elected president, huge setbacks regarding fundamental rights were approved and, to make everything even more difficult for human rights, a person notorious for his apologies for torture and other things was elected president. crimes.

With all this, the spirit of commemorating the civil-military coup of 1964, as if it had been something grandiose, on March 31, has returned to strength, even knowing that the version of the dictatorship they have always supported is a big lie, since the date of its implantation until the justifications of communist threat and parity of forces.

Obviously, this type of commemoration of the coup is still isolated. Even more relevant are the initiatives dedicated to denouncing the coup and its atrocities, as occurred, for example, with the XNUMXst Walk of Silence for Victims of State Violence.

Held in São Paulo/SP, at Parque do Ibirapuera, on March 31, 2019 (because it was a Sunday), the event brought together more than ten thousand people. It is considered the greatest act in memory of victims of state violence since the promulgation of the Constitution, in 1988. Its success was mainly due to the call that President Jair Bolsonaro made in the last week of March for the public to take to the streets to commemorate the civil-military coup. The public did take to the streets, but in dark clothes, carrying flowers and lighted candles in honor of the political dead and disappeared. In several Brazilian capitals, events with the same purpose took place on March 31st and April 1st.

From then on, the collective Movimento Vozes do Silêncio (Movimento Vozes do Silêncio) was established (, supported by institutions across the country, with the aim of remembering the occurrence of the military civil coup and the resulting tragedies on March 31st and April 1st.

In the following years, 2020 and 2021, the Movement was unable to take to the streets due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but it has been carrying out virtual acts that have a lot of repercussions and stand out more than the infamous celebrations of the coup d'état that the Judiciary, unfortunately, it resists curbing.

This year, the objective of “Vozes do Silêncio” is to launch the campaign “#ReinterpretaJáSTF” ( because the validity of the Amnesty Law for agents of the dictatorship has been pending judgment at the Federal Supreme Court (STF) for over ten years. This reinterpretation is urgent because the impunity for crimes against humanity committed during the military dictatorship has been decisive for the country to continue to be violent, unequal and democratically very fragile.

In addition to remembering that torture and other crimes against humanity cannot be forgiven, the Movement wants to remember that these crimes and the dictatorship that committed them, which was not even committed to the truth about the date of their implementation, cannot be commemorated.

So you don't forget, so you don't keep repeating yourself![iv]

* Eugenia Augusta Gonzaga She is the Regional Attorney of the Republic, coordinator of the “Memory and Truth” working group of the Federal Public Prosecutor's Office for Citizens' Rights of the MPF.


[I] See more at:🇧🇷 Accessed on 30.03.2021/XNUMX/XNUMX.

[ii] Idem.

[iii] See

[iv] About the launch of the #ReinterpretaJá STF campaign, visit:

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