plague goat

Image: Hamilton Grimaldi


Open letter of reparation to the memory of Patativa do Assaré

President Bolsonaro, in addition to being the worst president of the republic in the history of Brazil, committing various crimes of responsibility, promoting the greatest dismantling of Brazilian institutions in the areas of the environment, education, art and culture, social policies, human rights and health, you have also just committed the infamy of defiling the name and usurping the legacy of the great poet Patativa do Assaré.

On the last October 8th, day of the northeastern people, with electoral purposes, thinking about re-election in the midst of the greatest public health calamity that Brazil has ever known, you released a video wanting to raise the sympathy of the northeastern people, a region that you mock (“os paraíbas”) and in which it was largely defeated in the last election. To pretend empathy with the people of the Northeast, you unscrupulously used verses from the poem “Sou goat da peste” by the beloved poet bird, heritage of the Northeastern people.

It was time for you to show a minimum of decorum and respect for the biography of a great, just and honorable man. Approaching his image, adorning it with verses from a poet who dedicated his life and work to the preaching of human rights, justice and social equality, is an affront to the memory of this poet, an affront that causes indignation to all of us who have years we enjoyed, worshiped and loved the sensitive and humanizing work of Patativa do Assaré.

You, for all the statements you made, for all the acts you performed, are the antipode, the anti-Patativa par excellence. Quoting him constitutes an impropriety to his biography and his. Nothing is more viscerally antagonistic than the two of you, yours inhuman and his human.

While you make an apology for crimes of torture and rape, vilely insulting Congresswoman Maria do Rosário and honoring one of the cruelest torturers in the history of Brazil, Patativa, in a certain poem, refers to women as angels in skirts and wrote a poem rescuing the memory of a Catholic priest who was tortured and murdered by the military dictatorship, this dictatorship against which he fought and which, for you, constitutes his Golden Age.

On one side, there is Jair Bolsonaro praising Colonel Brilhantre Ustra, the man who tortured and murdered at least 50 people and who took children, the children of political prisoners, to watch their parents being tortured; on the other there is Patativa do Assaré lending his lyre and verve to the fight against oppression and tyranny, rescuing the memory of the victims of the dictatorship, condemning violence, censorship and lack of freedom, and exhorting the people to fight against that regime authoritarian.

At the request of Dom Helder Câmara, Patativa do Assaré wrote the pamphlet Father Henrique and the Dragon of Evil. It tells the story of the priest of the diocese of Olinda who was kidnapped, tortured and murdered on May 27, 1969 by the dictatorship's repression forces. I think it's easy, even for someone like the captain, not used to the subtleties and metaphors of poetry, to infer who the Dragon of Evil is. By the way, here are some passages from the poem:

Father Antonio Henrique
very young and smart
the 27th of may
was brutally killed
from the year 69

of our present age
He had been a priest for three years:
After he ordered
Preached the same mission
that Jesus Christ preached
And it was for this reason
That the Dragon slew him.

It came up against Father Henrique
an unbridled fury
threatening the church
Because I was decided
Raising awareness among young people
About life's problems.

because of your work
That only what is good craves
the spirit of evil,
That everything spoils and smells,
made sad accusations
Against D. Helder and the church. 


Was the body of the priest
Knife and bullet pierced,
It also proved to be
tied by the neck
Probably before death
It was pretty rough

In the bush was his body
In a precarious situation,
In the region of the place
University City
was brutally killed
by the bloodthirsty beast

for that same time
many aggravating acts
They appeared in Recife
Against the young students
What should be in the future
of the motherland representatives

See in these verses the illegitimacy of his appropriation of the work of Patativa do Assaré, his bad faith in doing so, the usurpation and defilement of the honor of a great man and poet. Let’s look at the case of other exemplary poems: chick's lesson e The Ox Zebu and the Ants.

chick's lesson was made for the amnesty campaign for political prisoners and recited on the platforms of the campaign for Diretas Já, where, in the honorable company of Darcy Ribeiro, Patativa exhorted the people to act in relation to the dictatorship following the example of the chick when it grows inside the egg and , to free itself from the shell that oppresses it, works tirelessly with its own beak to break out of that prison.

Em The Ox Zebu and the Ants, another fable in verse, the poet declares:

The ants defend her
Your home, the anthill,
Putting the ox to run
From the shadow of the juazêro,
I will show in this lesson
How much can the union;
In my new poem
the quedize zebu bull
Which is the bosses of the podê,
And these ants are the people.

These poems were created, disseminated and published at a time when all civilized people in Brazil were fighting against that military dictatorship that the Captain-President praises so much and that he misses so much and against which Patativa invested with all his talent, his imagination. and his humanity.

His electoral trajectory took off, giving him greater visibility, as we know and I have already mentioned, from his apology in the media for crimes such as rape and torture, but the appeal to another anachronism also served as the basis for that campaign: the hoax of the communist threat. Supported and inspired by the insanities of the Big Brother of the North, Donald Trump, you and your allies, here in Brazil (and in Virginia), decided to resurrect old tricks from the days of the Cold War and the dictatorship and one of these is the reenthronement of the old danger communist, or, in the version of his infantilized voter, the communist who eats little children. Nonsense that resonates thanks to the ignorance, misinformation and bad faith of those who benefit from it. Patativa do Assaré knew this repertoire of stupidities and spoke out against it, denouncing it in verses and fighting it with attitudes, since he himself was a victim of this kind of dishonest game.

again the poem Father Henrique and the Dragon of Evil elucidates us:

Will be a communist
Is to give instruction to the weak
Defending your right
Within reason,
Taking away naive poverty
From the Darkness of Oppression 

Will be a communist
It is to show certain plans
So that the people do not live
Involved in the deceptions
And they can defend themselves
From the yoke of the inhumans

Will be a communist
It's knowing how to feel the pain
From the working class.
Also from the farmers
looking to soften
Horrors and more horrors.

All this, reader, is a trick.
of heartless people
Which in order to bring
The poor in subjection,
from the word communism
Invent a boogeyman.

The poet in the verses above warns the people against the deceit that consists of demonizing, calling communists, those who fight for human rights and social justice, and, consequently, against the maintenance of privileges.

In 1987, when Adauto Bezerra and Tasso Jereissati were disputing the government of Ceará, Pedro Bandeira, Adauto's electoral supporter, spoke on a radio station that the people did not vote for Tasso Jereissati, as he was a communist, and stated that whoever guaranteed this was “a man that no one has ever seen him walk with a lie. Whoever said he was a communist was Patativa do Assaré”. Upon hearing such a lie, the revolted poet made a point of clarifying things and ended up supporting the candidacy of Tasso Jereissati.

It is also important to remember that, even having supported Tasso Jereissati, Patativa do Assaré publicly supported candidate Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva in his three attempts to reach the presidency of the Republic.

This set of records, facts and manifestations of the poet, whether in verses or in the interviews he gave to biographers and scholars, serves to demonstrate the dishonesty that consists of someone of his jaez, president, with his actions, his practices of hate and destruction, your affronts to democracy and human rights, appropriating verses from a poet who defended values ​​that you do not respect and who fights to make them a dead letter.

For all this, for this visceral antagonism between you, your public figure and what she represents, on the one hand, and the human and poetic greatness of Patativa do Assaré, on the other, it becomes evident how fallacious, immoral, dishonest there is and dishonorable in this moral fraud that the captain-president does when he uses verses from the popular poet to pretend empathy and flatter the northeastern people.

Plague goat, in the good sense of the expression, as brave people who face deprivation, without the help of rulers, that Jair Bolsonaro and his family never were. But it should be noted that language takes root in the unconscious and often words loaded with ambiguities, with underlying meanings, surprise us, saying and revealing things about us that we did not even suspect or that we tried to hide. It seems to me that this is your case.

You see, there are so many misfortunes and catastrophes that have befallen Brazil since he took office, many of them a direct result of his action, omission or example, that this gives us food for thought. Catastrophes, some of them even being of natural origin, were potentiated by the incompetence or perhaps deliberate inaction of its administration, who knows conniving, working secretly in favor of catastrophic results.

Let's just focus on three sectors: public safety, the environment and public health.

At the dawn of his government, on April 7, 2019, the army fired 80 shots at the car carrying a family in the Vila Militar region of Rio de Janeiro. The shots killed the musician Evaldo Rosa dos Santos, father of the family, black, it should be remembered, who was driving the vehicle, without anyone having been held responsible for this crime. This was a typical act of the spirit of the times that came into force in his government, the result of his statements, his encouragement of violence, his weapons ideology that encourages the discretion of the security forces, even offering them the guarantee of impunity. , as occurred in this case.

Since then, violence rates have not stopped growing, which can be measured on several fronts. There was a 120% increase in the number of gun registrations among cacs (collectors, shooters and hunters) and a 65% increase among non-cacs. According to the Public Security Yearbook, homicides that had been falling since 2018 grew again and increased by 7% in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. Is there any relationship between your apology for violence, the increase in the number of weapons in circulation and the increase in the number of homicides?

The militias that today are infiltrated in public power and in the police already dominate 57% of the territory of the city of Rio de Janeiro. Some historical links between you and your family with these corporations are common knowledge, since the still-deputy Jair Bolsonaro, referring to the work of these groups in Bahia, invoked them, expressing the desire to see them provide their services also in the Rio de Janeiro, and on another occasion he awarded honors to police officers involved in militia practices.

The country watches perplexedly a sequence of records in the increase of deforested areas in the Amazon, now followed by a frightening proliferation of fires that also reach the Pantanal of Mato Grosso. One of the greatest natural assets that our country could be proud of and show off before the world burns under his government.

This tragedy has its roots back in the beginning of your term, in August 2019, when you dismissed scientist Ricardo Magnus Osório Galvão as director of Inpe (National Institute for Space Research) because the Institute released scientific data that indicated the increase in destruction of the Amazon under his management. Ironically, after being dismissed, Ricardo Galvão was chosen as one of the scientists of the year, and the numbers that were later calculated revealed that the destruction in the Amazon biome was even greater than indicated by INPE data.

Faced with this apocalyptic scenario, today Brazil is witnessing a flight of investments from foreign companies and nations that, aligned with the goals of environmental preservation, refuse to comply with the environmental policy of its government.

In the field of public health, the tragedy is immeasurable. Finally Brazil reached the top of the ranking international ranking in the number of contagions and deaths from the coronavirus pandemic. You, with your denialist and cynical policy, took our country to second place in the ranking of contamination and deaths by Covid-19, second only to the United States, a country governed by its idol, model and guide Donald Trump.

At the time of writing, Brazil has 153.675 deaths and 5.224.362 cases of the coronavirus. I remember that at the beginning of the pandemic you guaranteed that this “little flu” would not cost more than 800 lives. It is unbelievable that, having said this, he has never apologized, or that he continues to say that the federal government was right in its health policy towards the pandemic. The president boycotted social isolation and the preventive measures recommended by science, set a bad example as much as he could and, therefore, is largely responsible for this large number of deaths. Had it not been for the initiative of the governors, the tragedy would have cost many more victims than it will cost.

And now, in order not to leave the headlines, as always aiming only at re-election, you resort to the strategy of uttering absurdities and ideological, anti-scientific and genocidal mantras. He advises against mass vaccination, saying that the vaccine will not be mandatory, and refuses to buy Coronavac, a vaccine being developed by the Chinese laboratory Sinovac in partnership with the Butantã Institute. While millions of people suffer and live in a permanent state of anguish, fear and apprehension, and thousands of other families mourn their dead, you play politics, bad and homicidal politics, you spread nonsense to feed the rage of your human cattle through social networks, once again invests against science and common sense, taking the origin of the vaccine and not its effectiveness as a criterion. Their motivation is only electoral and ideological,

Looking at this scenario, there are so many misfortunes converging on our country, we are experiencing a concentration of tragedies so large, so frightening, that it occurs to me to wonder if we are not facing one of those punishments, true moral reprimands, sent by the gods, as we are warned Greek mythology, since you, they say, are a myth. In the repertoire of Greek mythology we learn that scourges can strike societies as a way of calling out and punishing intolerable iniquities that corrupt the very foundations of social life.

So perhaps that is the reason for your attraction to Patativa do Assaré’s poem, particularly its title: I'm a plague goat. Our democracy welcomed an enemy of human rights and democracy itself into its highest position, and now the scourges punish us. And what did you do?” He read the title and unconsciously, through the reverse mirroring effect, aimed at one thing and hit another.

At first he wanted to dress up as a goat of the plague, as if he were one of our own, as if he shared a destiny, but, for all that we have seen above, you are not one of ours, you are not the type of people whose humanity has fed on inspiration and poetry of Patativa do Assaré. But what to do? You would look at that title, those words, and feel that there was something there that attracted you, there was something that concerned you, and this thing is precisely the noun plague that is there, shining, winking at you, calling your attention, interacting with your unconscious.

So, eager to send a pleasant and friendly message, like someone who sets a trap to catch a bird, the vote of the Northeasterners, you open your mouth and defile the verses of a bird poet and thus, involuntarily, you undress and reveal yourself. When trying to cross-dress, hiding behind the poet's verses, the master operates an inversion of meaning in them. A reverse and perverse effect, and what before was plague courage, grace, strength and resistance, comes to mean plague disease, destruction, cowardice and violence. You betray yourself and denounce yourself as largely responsible for the tragedies that have descended on Brazil, because today, Jair Bolsonaro, is the naked and substantive plague itself.

Poetry is sacred: it reveals and illuminates. Even in spite of the unwary who try to distort it, Captain.

* Claudio Henrique Sales Andrade is a doctor in Brazilian Literature from USP and author of Patativa do Assaré: the reasons for emotion (chapters of a sertaneja poetry) (Nankin, UFC Publisher, 2004).

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