Carlos Lessa (1936-2020)

Antonio Lizárraga (Reviews Journal)
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By CHICO ALENCAR*

Profile of the intellectual and economist, victim of Covid-19

At a very young age, I would “run away” from the Faculty of History to attend classes by the thought-provoking Carlos Lessa, in Economics at UFF. He, who always repeated that economics was “a sad science”, did not hide his joy in living and enjoying its pleasures, in sounds and flavors. Nothing human was alien to him.

A man of knowledge, of science, he was also a man of everyday life, curious about the common people. An Academy baton fascinated by the drumming of the hills. Thinking big and fighting for projects for the redemption of Brazil and paths for the world, Lessa knew how few people value her lived space and her beloved city, Rio.

I devoured the 478 pages of his extraordinary The Rio of all Brazils (Record). Mandatory reading, by the way, for whoever proposes to lead Rio from next year, in the Executive or in the Legislative.

Carlos Lessa loved his city, which he saw as a portrait of the ills and beauties of Brazil. How he loved his friends and, in particular, his partner “from Rio da Vida”, Martha, and their children, Thereza, Rodrigo and Pedro, from Rio de Janeiro, heirs of the great values ​​of their dear father. My fraternal and supportive hug to them at this sad time.

Rodrigo Lessa, a composer, said that his father “left at a time when Brazil is in shambles”. Huge pain for the loss. Sadness also for the suffocation of dignity, sovereignty, popular culture, education, development with social justice: everything Lessa fought for throughout her fruitful life.

Carlos Lessa, who was not afraid of polemics or politics, president of the BNDES, rector of UFRJ, is another great man who is gone in this dark time in which mediocrities loom large. Democrat and radical nationalist, dreaming of a Brazil of “becoming”, he couldn't stand the current federal disgrace!

It is necessary to carve in our hearts the realization-prophecy-desire of Lessa, the indomitable lover: “perhaps the intense relationship with the street is the common denominator, decanted by time, of being carioca. In the streets of Rio, the slave, circulating and surviving, was less of a slave; in it, the migrant explored his space of possibilities; in the street, the religious-profane festival was the moment of maximum leisure. (...) Cariocas are not afraid of the crowd, they are afraid of the empty square”.

Carlos Lessa leaves us in the midst of a paradox: only the streets of active, conscious and organized citizenship will stop the neo-fascist rise that he hated. But only by protecting ourselves, collected, will we overcome this time of the acute pandemic that also victimized him.

Lessa left on World Environment Day: he who propagated, like few others, the understanding of the entire environment and the pulsating love for everything that lives.

Carlos Lessa rests in peace in the cosmic lap of Almighty Love. It was light, it continues to radiate its energy! Gratitude, teacher!

* Chico Alencar Professor at UFRJ, writer and former federal deputy (PSOL/RJ).

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