Borba Gato lives!

John Sloan (1871–1951), Gray and Brass, oil on canvas, 55,9 × 68,6 cm, 1907.
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By DANIEL BRAZIL*

Borba Gato is the hidden idol of fundamentalist pastors, landowners, the elites who find it convenient to praise henchmen and doormats who do their duty

Borba Gato, a symbol of São Paulo for more than four hundred years, a pioneer with a long record, was one of the first genocides in our history. In addition to killing hundreds of native Brazilians, he raped young people and indigenous children, according to records. He served colonialist interests with courage until he got involved in a fight with the royal goldsmith, Rodrigo de Castelo Branco, who was found dead in a pirambeira. Borba Gato spent years hiding in the bush after that event.

Brazil, XNUMXst century. Indigenous villages are criminally burned, and a Funai representative is caught on a recording saying that he has to “shoot” the isolated peoples. Favelas embedded in the city, in regions of high real estate interest, are set on fire in a “mysterious” way. Beggars are burned with gasoline on a public road. Umbanda and Candomblé terreiros are charred by hands that are supposedly Christian, white and defenders of evangelical values. Forests, fields and cerrados are destroyed by arson, so that new bandeirantes occupy those territories.

Borba Gato is alive. In the spirit of Funai's leader, in the speech of the Minister of the Environment, of the President of the Republic, of the directors of Fiesp. Borba Gato is the hidden idol of fundamentalist pastors, landowners, the elites who find it convenient to praise henchmen and doormats who do their duty.

Burning a statue of Borba Gato will not atone for any crime he has committed. It will not restore the lives of the thousands of Brazilians who died burned in villages, slums, bus stops and forests since 1718, the year of the murderer's death. But it will certainly outrage all those who have benefited, even without knowing it, from its premonitory and seminal performance.

It doesn't matter if it was a hideous statue, a gum doll, a naive tribute by Julio Guerra to northeastern clay dolls, or a symbol of the Santo Amaro neighborhood, erected in 1963. It doesn't matter the irrelevant historical value of the work, which materializes the aesthetic discourse of a certain decadent São Paulo elite.

What matters is that Borba Gato's spirit lives on. Unfortunately.

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.

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