Marighella and her other – Carlos



Considerations on the political and intellectual trajectory of the “engineer who wrote verses”

In memory of Paulo Mercadante.

When I was writing the biography of the writer Graciliano Ramos, at the beginning of the 1990s, I met a Carlos Marighella who extrapolated the mythical images of the guerrilla commander from the second half of the 1960s. and essayist Paulo de Freitas Mercadante (1923-2013), one of the friends of Graciliano's unrestricted confidence, about his fraternal relationship with Carlos, from the redemocratization of 1945. The three were militants of the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB), Marighella being the veteran (joined in 1934) and Graciliano the novice (joined on August 18, 1945). Paulo remembered Graciliano being moved when he received the sum of money that communist friends managed to gather to help him in a moment of financial hardship. The only director who participated in the collection of donations was Carlos Marighella.

In the heat of Mercadante's memories, who reappeared was not the steel communist, but a polite, smiling, emotional, affable and irreverent man. Who liked beer, football (a fan of Vitória in Bahia and Corinthians in São Paulo), samba, Jackson do Pandeiro and Noel Rosa, carnival and the Cordão da Bola Preta dances. Who fled from the “apparatus” in which he lived clandestinely in Rio de Janeiro, during the reactionary government of Marshal Eurico Gaspar Dutra, to taste his favorite dishes – feijoada and Bahian food – at the Furna da Onça restaurant, in the heart of the city.

Once, he was spotted there by Graciliano and Mercadante, who recorded in his diary: “We found M., somewhat disguised, but visible to the naked eye, at a feijoada, with his back to the side door, in the company of an old trunk, better known than Barreto Pinto. We just wave. Grim-faced grace, to evince your disapproval.”[1] In order to evade the surveillance of the political police, he put a wig over his baldness and wore dark glasses (disguises that he would use again after the post-1964 military dictatorship). That was how he attended, incognito and sad, the wake of Graciliano, his friend and favorite writer, on March 20, 1953.

The Marighella that we learned to measure by firmness in political praxis was, according to Paulo Mercadante, one of the rare communist leaders of his generation with intellectual concerns. He did not limit himself to Marxist party documents and treatises; he appreciated Brazilian literature and classics of universal thought. “Carlos did not cling to iron certainties in the face of human frailties. With him we could open up. In his humanity, he distinguished himself from those leaders who would immediately quote Marx to dismiss personal problems as bourgeois weaknesses. When expressing himself, he did not resort to partisan jargon. He talked normally, he didn't follow set formulas and Manichaeisms”.

Historian Jacob Gorender (1923-2013), who met him in 1945, draws a profile similar to that presented by Mercadante: “Marighella was a revolutionary leader very different from others I followed in the leadership. He was a brotherly man, he had no air of superiority, he never attributed particular personal merits to himself. When he spoke of his experiences in torture, prison, and other circumstances, he did so only to teach, to warn comrades who did not have that experience. A man, a leader, who never used rudeness, who was interested in the personal problems of his companions, housing problems, money to buy food, to attend to family needs and so on. At the same time, a man who set an example and therefore was in a position to demand the fulfillment of tasks, could be rigorous in demanding the tasks that the other companions were in charge of”.[2]

The words of architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2021) make up this mosaic of impressions. Carlos was “perhaps the most romantic and the most enthusiastic” in Niemeyer's circle of PCB friends. “A fellow of the best quality, very decent, very faithful. He cherished people; he and João Saldanha would come here at the office to talk about everything, we would go out for lunch. (…) He was a warrior, who always wanted to turn the tables. The group needs someone like that, who encourages things to move faster. Someone needs to come forward. Without courage, nothing is done”.[3]


Carlos Marighella was born in a townhouse in Baixa do Sapateiro, Salvador, on December 5, 1911, the son of Augusto Marighella, an Italian immigrant, mechanic and anarchist sympathizer, and Maria Rita do Nascimento, a black Bahian descendant of Sudanese slaves. . His father's libertarian ideas shaped his spirit against discrimination and prejudice. He was indignant at the segregation of blacks. An expert in soccer and mathematics, he loved to write poems and read, by candlelight, the newspapers his father passed him. In the last year of the scientific course at Ginásio da Bahia, he received a grade of 10 when answering a physics test with verses.

In 1931, aged 19, he enrolled in the civil engineering course at the Polytechnic School of Bahia and soon joined the Red Federation of Students, linked to the PCB. Militancy led him to prison several times. The first of them was still in 1932, when he participated in the occupation of the Faculty of Medicine of Bahia, alongside more than 500 people, most of them students, in defense of the country's redemocratization. The demonstration was dissolved by the police of the federal intervenor in the state, Captain Juracy Magalhães. After completing the third year of engineering in December 1933, internal clashes at the Politécnica resulted in an investigation that dragged on until March 1934, with a warning being imposed on him for stealing physics tests that he allegedly practiced in the school office.

Two months later, the Congregation unanimously dismissed the appeal in the investigation that investigated his participation in the distribution of pamphlets considered subversive. This time he was punished with three months of suspension.[4] Graduation was interrupted. “Shortly before finishing the course, I dropped out of school and gave up on my career. A deep feeling of revolt against social injustice did not allow me to pursue a degree and dedicate myself to civil engineering, in a country where children are obliged to work to eat”, he recalled three decades later.[5]

In the same year, 1934, he joined the PCB, as one of the trump cards in the complicated task of rebuilding the disorganized and timid section of Bahia. Local political conditions somehow interfered with motivation. Bahia had become, according to writer João Falcão (1919-2011), “an authentic communist refuge”. Although conservative and anti-communist, the intervenor Juracy Magalhães did not accompany the government of Getúlio Vargas in the hunt for communists after the unsuccessful insurrection of November 1935. He was more concerned with the tenacious opposition of integralists to his administration. In the left opposition, the PCB was a much lesser evil. In such a scenario, it was in Bahia that some northeastern communists involved in the insurrection took refuge, such as José Praxedes, Alberto Passos Guimarães and Diógenes Arruda.[6]

Carlos moved to Rio de Janeiro in early 1936, where he began to work in the party's press, publicity and propaganda sector. The climate was one of war with Vargas's violent persecution of those who had participated in the insurrection and government opponents in general. Numerous PCB leaders and militants were arrested and convicted under the National Security Law. Prisons, penal colonies and Navy ships were overcrowded. Even a progressive intellectual, even without being (yet) a member of the PCB, such as Graciliano Ramos, director of Public Instruction in Alagoas, ended up imprisoned for ten months and ten days, without trial or conviction.

On May 1, 1936, detained by the Special Police of Filinto Muller, Carlos was tortured for 23 days. He served a year in prison. Released, he left for São Paulo to help reorganize the party and fight Trotskyist dissent. At age 26, he became a member of the State Committee. Arrested again in 1939, they burned the soles of his feet with a blowtorch, stuck stilettos under his nails, knocked out some of his teeth and opened his forehead with a butt blow. He did not give in to the executioners. In solitary confinement at the Special Prison in São Paulo, he composed the poem “Liberdade”:

I will not remain alone in the field of art,
and, firm courage, lofty and strong,
I will do everything for you to exalt you,
serenely, oblivious to his own fate.
So that I can look at you one day
domineering, in fervent transport,
I will say that you are beautiful and pure everywhere,
for greater risk in which that audacity matters.
I love you so much, and in such a way, in short,
that there is no human strength
let this intoxicating passion tame.
And that I for you, if tortured,
may be happy, indifferent to pain,
die smiling murmuring your name.

“Rondo da Liberdade”, also from 1939, is one of the engaged poems that well reflects his libertarian spirit:

You must not be afraid,
you have to have the courage to say it.
There are those who have a vocation to be a slave,
but there are slaves who revolt against slavery.
Don't get down on your knees
that it is not rational to renounce being free.
Even slaves by vocation
must be forced to be free,
when the shackles are broken.
Man must be free...
Love does not stop at any obstacle,
and it can even exist even when one is not free.
And yet he is himself
the highest expression of the freest
in all ranges of human feeling.
You must not be afraid,
you have to have the courage to say it.

The Vargas dictatorship confined him to Fernando de Noronha Island, where he organized political training courses for detainees, took care of the community garden and played soccer with integralistas. He was transferred in 1942 to the feared Colonia Correcional Dois Rios, on Ilha Grande. In addition to following the Allied victories in World War II on the radio, he used his manual skills to create a collective handicraft workshop, whose products were sold to relatives and friends. The income was used to improve food, buy medicine, help poor families with expenses and pay lawyers' fees.

One of Carlos' last writings on Ilha Grande was the poem “Prestes (on the day of his birthday)”, on January 3, 1945. It was two months before Luiz Carlos Prestes (1898-1990) completed nine years in prison. Prestes was chosen, even in prison, as secretary general at the II National Conference of the PCB, held underground in Engenheiro Passos, Rio de Janeiro, from August 28 to 30, 1943.

The poem was part of the personality cult of the party's top leader, highlighted by several authors in the party press, similar to the treatment reserved for the “genius guide of the peoples” – Josef Stalin.

O heroic Knight of Hope
exemplary son of the Brazilian people,
your immense figure more and more advances,
guides and illuminates the entire continent.
The glory of your name the world reaches
daring liberator. you are the first
that inspires confidence in our people,
admiration, true affection.
The voice does not say, nor does the pen express
your pain in a prison, without crime,
away from the dear love of his daughter.
But your martyrdom contains a truth:
in the hearts of the people of this land
only your name shines and shines.

With the amnesty decreed on April 18, 1945, Luiz Carlos Prestes was released the following day, as was Marighella, after six years in prison. Waiting for Carlos at the exit of the Prison on Rua Frei Caneca, in Rio, was law student Paulo Mercadante, 21 years old, assigned to the task by Captain Antônio Rollemberg, responsible for the military area of ​​the PCB. Four other militants reinforced security against any hostility or provocation. Paulo was one of the young communists attracted by the mystique surrounding Marighella – the “engineer who wrote verses” –, who heroically resisted in the dungeons of the Estado Novo.

Carlos was carrying a small suitcase and was wearing a shabby beige jacket and navy blue pants. Mercadante took him to Casa Tavares, on Avenida Rio Branco, to buy him clothes. The money was only enough for a suit and a pair of shoes. From there they headed to the office of an ophthalmologist who prescribed lenses for myopia. Months ago, his glasses had broken, and because he was in jail, he hadn't been able to replace them.

The next stopover was at the Faculty of Law of Rio de Janeiro, in Catete. General secretary of the Luís Carpenter Academic Center, Paulo Mercadante introduced Marighella to professors, including Professor Homero Pires. Her presence stirred up the students, who sought him out to talk about politics. In the company of Mercadante, student leader Paulo Silveira and the college secretary, Osvaldo Carpenter, he had lunch at the legendary Lamas restaurant, in Largo do Machado. “Friendly and hopeful about the future, Carlos soon won us over”, recalled Mercadante. Osvaldo Carpenter gave him a dinner at his house and hosted him that night.

Biographer Mário Magalhães narrated his nocturnal adventures in Rio, after the long period of forced seclusion: “He did not restrict himself to the tails of the party. With Mercadante and other academics, he became a regular at nightclubs in Copacabana and Urca. He would return at dawn to the apartment the party had assigned him, in Catete. Early in the morning, he walked towards the building that housed the Germania Club until 1942, when UNE students invaded and expelled the German owners”.[7] But he soon had to turn to militancy, as he was part of the organizing committee of the rally commemorating the release of Prestes, which took 100 people to the São Januário Stadium, in Rio, on May 23, 1945.

Marighella joined the Central Committee, to which he had been appointed at the Mantiqueira Conference – the starting point for the reorganization of the PCB, based on support for mobilization for Brazil’s entry into the war against Nazi-fascism in Europe, which included a pragmatic political alliance with Getúlio Vargas within the framework of national unity against the Axis. Marighella was part of the group of Bahian communists that played a relevant role in the restructuring of the party, alongside Giocondo Dias (1913-1987), Armênio Guedes (1918-2015), Mário Alves (1923-1970), Maurício Grabois (1912-1973 ), Jorge Amado (1912-2001), Fernando Santana (1915-2012), Aristeu Nogueira (1915-2006), Milton Caires de Brito (1915-1985), Boris Tabacof (1929-2021), Osvaldo Peralva (1918-1992 ), Almir Matos (1922-1997), Jacob Gorender, João Falcão and others.

Elected federal deputy for the PCB of Bahia on December 2, 1945, with 5.188 votes, Carlos wanted to educate himself in Constitutional Law to act with ease in the Constituent Assembly. Paulo Mercadante provided him with legal books, Comments to the Constitution of 1891, by João Barbalho, the volume he appreciated the most. A good orator, Marighella distinguished himself as one of the authors of the chapter on individual rights and guarantees in the new Constitution. In two years in office, he gave 195 speeches, denouncing the poor living conditions of the people and the growing imperialist penetration in the country. He defended agrarian reform, freedom of religious worship, lay education, divorce, national sovereignty and state control in strategic sectors of the economy and production.

A phrase by Marighella – “life is stronger than fantasy” – became famous in the meetings of the PCB bench in the Constituent Assembly, made up of 14 federal deputies and Senator Luiz Carlos Prestes. For Jorge Amado, also a deputy elected by São Paulo, Marighella was the most brilliant communist parliamentarian: “We were, the two of us, a kind of public relations for the bench. And we were above all the editors of speeches and communiqués for those comrades who did not write. Marighella was a deputy of the greatest importance. It must be remembered that Parliament then was very different from what it is today. Deputies were used to that false solemnity, much more hypocritical, in a sense, than what a parliamentary session is today. But Marighella broke away from that easily. Not only did he have a sense of humor, he had an extraordinary thing, Marighella had imagination. He was not a limited intellectual”.[8]

The toxic environment of the Cold War heightened tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. Speaking in Fulton, USA, former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill accused the Soviet Union of having erected “an iron curtain” in Eastern Europe. The main task of Western democracies, he said cynically, was to defend “the free world”. It was necessary to detain and isolate the communists at any cost, as well as barring the electoral rise of the Western Communist Parties. In Brazil, obscurantism prevailed and, under the crossfire of the right-wing and Americanophile government of Dutra, the PCB had its registration suspended in May 1947. The mandates of its parliamentarians were annulled on January 7, 1948. When the decision was given to the plenary, the PCB bench, commanded by Marighella, climbed into the Tiradentes Palace armchairs and, with fists raised in protest, began to shout in unison: “We will be back! Long live the PCB! Long live the proletariat!”

The Communist Youth was declared illegal, PCB headquarters closed, 143 unions placed under intervention and communist newspapers jammed. On May 22, 1948, with Marighella in hiding, his son Carlos Augusto, Carlinhos, was born in Rio de Janeiro, the result of his relationship with Elza Sento Sé. In the same year, the leadership of the PCB appointed Marighella to take over the direction of the São Paulo State Committee. He continued to front the magazine Problems, which propagated here, like the other PCB periodicals, the dogmatic theses of socialist realism and disseminated translations of Soviet theoretical texts, in addition to articles on imperialist penetration in Brazil and Dutra's surrender policies.

Since December 1947, he had lived with the militant Clara Charf, who had worked as a secretary for the communist group in the Chamber of Deputies. In the first days of clandestinity, she learned from Carlos a rule that she strictly observed, even during the ten years of exile in Cuba, from 1969 until her return with the amnesty in 1979: “Clara, you cannot smile in the streets, otherwise they will soon recognize you. ”. Not even when posing for pictures did she compromise.

Carlos stood up for gender equality and women's rights. “My husband was a feminist”, attested Clara. “Feminism is a feeling of valuing women. When we became partners, he understood me and always encouraged the formation of organizations for women. Marighella shared the household chores, but she didn't know how to iron. Then, while I was with this service, he would read it to me aloud to 'I don't waste time'. Being a feminist is not just declaring, it is demonstrating, respecting and giving the same rights to both beings”.[9]

In 1956, Marighella chaired the 1a. National Conference on Party Work among Women. Three years later, he encouraged the creation of the Liga Feminina da Guanabara, in the orbit of the PCB. Among its leaders were Clara Charf, Ana Montenegro (1915-2006) and Zilda Xavier Pereira (1925-2015). The entity was closed by the political police on 1st. April 1964. According to historian Maria Cláudia Badan Ribeiro, Marighella encouraged female militancy during the armed resistance struggle against the post-1964 military dictatorship (which I will discuss later) and “tried to convince her companions to let their wives participate in the meetings, bring the social problems of the housewife”. Marighella managed to bend Fidel Castro's government and Cuba accepted some women who were part of the National Liberation Action in training for rural guerrilla warfare. According to Maria Cláudia, he conditioned the agreement with the Cubans to the insertion of the militants indicated by the ALN in the preparation courses.[10]

In 1950, at the age of 41, Carlos Marighella joined the Executive Committee and the National Secretariat – the highest bodies in the party hierarchy. The PCB was experiencing another turbulent moment. Cornered by the arbitrary persecutions of the Dutra government, which confused public opinion with fallacious arguments about its links with the Soviet Union, the PCB had radicalized its platform in the August Manifesto, that year, abandoning the democratic front policy that had transformed it, into the standards of the post-war, into a mass party with 200 members. The party began to preach armed struggle, to be led by a national liberation army. The sectarian directive led the communists to preach blank votes in the presidential election that brought back, by popular will, Getúlio Vargas to the Palácio do Catete.

Marighella endorsed the Manifesto and, by extension, the leftism that would isolate the PCB from the masses. Paulo Mercadante noted in his diary: “Carlos, sitting with us, expounded the thesis that the party, in the right line that served the interests of the people, would mobilize, in increasing progression, all the exploited classes, in order to provoke, after all, the leap needed to seize power. Carlos was serene and sincere in his expositions. Even though he did not truly believe in them, he remained firm, always attributing any doubt that might exist to the weaknesses of his bourgeois origin”.

But not everyone in the party bought the Manifesto. Graciliano Ramos disagreed; to his intimate circle he expressed the understanding that, with radicalization, the PCB was out of step with reality and dissociated itself from social dynamics. Carlos tried to convince him to accept the norm, pondering “that, progressively, the exploited classes would be mobilized for the necessary leap to the conquest of power”. Mercadante, who witnessed the conversation, transcribed Graciliano's rejoinder in his diary: “Graça was waiting for the end of the long justification to ask the first question. How could the party win over the Getulist masses? And the field? Would the slogan reach the interior, if the party lacked the necessary means of communication, mainly written? Finally, what is the example of any revolution without the historical conditions of deterioration of the ruling classes? The arguments were refuted by Carlos, without much certainty, and Graça, after all, agreed with the success of the proclaimed revolt, but asking: if the revolution is victorious, how will we manage to remain in power in the face of such an adverse geopolitical reality?”.[11]

Despite being under preventive detention, accused of “subversion”, Marighella participated in the political and social struggles of the 1950s, especially from 1952 onwards, when he began to decline obedience to the August Manifesto. He organized workers' strikes in São Paulo and the Port of Santos; he led a march of 1953 people in protest against high prices in XNUMX. he called for a state oil monopoly; he opposed the sending of Brazilian soldiers to the Korean War; criticized the bellicose rise of American imperialism in Indochina and European colonialism in African countries; fought the denationalization of the economy and the privatization of education.

He headed the first delegation of Brazilian communists to the People's Republic of China, in 1952, as part of the diplomatic strategy of the Mao Zedong government to publicize the efforts of the Revolution to accelerate the country's development to groups of foreign sympathizers. He was one of the influential voices for the PCB to abandon, at the IV Congress, in November 1954, the more radical line and return to valuing electoral alliances with the Labor Party.

The Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, in 1956, shook the world with the denunciations of crimes committed in the Stalin era. “Marighella took the Khrushchev Report as if it were a stab from Stalin. I saw him cry with anger and indignation”, remembered Paulo Mercadante. “Unlike most members of the Central Committee, Carlos accepted Khrushchev's verdict, dismissing the version that the report was false or a simple provocation.” He felt betrayed. When Stalin died on March 5, 1953, Marighella had praised him, as well as Prestes and others, in the extraordinary edition of the Working Voice: "What the great Stalin did for humanity, for the liberation of peoples, for the cause of peace, democracy and socialism, imposes on us the duty to honor his sacred memory".[12]

Marighella remained in the PCB and voted in favor of the Central Committee Resolution which referred to the “courageous denunciation of the personality cult practiced by the Communist Party of the Soviet Union”; but he was listed, along with Prestes, among the leaders who opposed a more prolonged internal debate on the party's course after the crisis in the USSR. The publication of the Kruschev Report resulted in the dismissal of the faction linked to Agildo Barata and of several intellectuals, among them Paulo Mercadante.

Marighella's faithfulness in that difficult court led Prestes to entrust her with a crucial task. He handed him a stack of letters addressed to friends in the states, requesting financial contributions to settle a debt of one million five hundred thousand cruzeiros, contracted in loans made by the party's finance sector. Marighella fulfilled the mission, and the debt was settled.

In March 1958, Marighella supported the Political Declaration that founded the programmatic change approved in the V Congress, in 1960. The communists now advocated “a nationalist and democratic government”, recommending that the working class “align with the bourgeoisie linked to national interests ”. The character of the Brazilian revolution, the document said, was anti-imperialist and anti-feudal, national and democratic. The peaceful path to socialism was adopted, through the formation of a “nationalist and democratic united front”, made up of the proletariat, the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and even sectors of “landlords in contradiction with North American imperialism”.

The PCB released in April 1960 the Theses for Discussion at the V Congress, who occupied the “Tribuna de Debates” of the newspaper for four months New directions. Marighella published the article “Defending the current line” (July 22 to 28, 1960) rebutting João Amazonas' criticism of the March 1958 Declaration. -Leninism that we should point out to the masses what they have to do today (you see, today) to defend themselves and their rights and demands. In this regard, Dimitrov already pointed out that our revolutionary duty is to know how to find forms of struggle that originate from the vital needs of the masses, from the level of their fighting capacity at each stage of their development”.

The Resolution of the V Congress reiterated, in general terms, the Declaration of 1958, establishing that “the accomplishment of the tasks of the current stage of the Brazilian revolution would necessarily have to pass through the organization of a nationalist and democratic united front”. The closing took place on September 5, 1960, in the crowded auditorium of the Associação Brasileira de Imprensa, in Rio. Since the government of Juscelino Kubitschek, whom the PCB supported in the 1955 election campaign, the party lived semi-legally, which allowed Prestes, Marighella and other leaders to return to the light of day, after a decade of clandestinity. The inaugural session was chaired by Marighella, who invited two founders of the PCB to join the table on March 25, 1922: writer and journalist Astrojildo Pereira (1890-1965) and electrician Hermogênio da Silva Fernandes (1889-1976).

Marighella stayed with Prestes and most of the Executive during the split that resulted in the founding of the Communist Party of Brazil (PC do B), in 1962, with the subsequent expulsion of names like João Amazonas, Pedro Pomar, Maurício Grabois and Diógenes Arruda. However, the divergences in the command of the PCB did not end. Marighella and Mário Alves began to question the policy of alliance between progressive forces and the national bourgeoisie. Nor did they look favorably on Prestes' close relationship with President Goulart. For them, the party was trailing behind reformist positions, which removed communists from the front line of workers' mobilizations for social rights and emptied the sense of the revolutionary struggle.

In Marighella's perspective, the party should renounce excessive moderation and intensify the pressure for basic reforms – notably land reform “by law or by force”, advocated by Francisco Julião's Peasant Leagues. He reiterated the need for communists to prepare for the eventuality of a coup d'état, due to the worsening of the political-institutional situation. It even met at the apartment of deputy Fernando Santana, on Rua Senador Vergueiro, Flamengo, in Rio de Janeiro with the Brizolist wing that organized the “groups of eleven” – activist cells that proposed to clarify and mobilize the popular classes for resistance. in the event of a coup against Jango. Deputy Neiva Moreira, one of those closest to Leonel Brizola, said that he found in Marighella "a firm, solid, clear, prudent man", who committed himself to defending with the PCB the work carried out by the groups of eleven, criticized as "leftists". ” by the majority of the party leadership.[13]

The military coup came on March 31, 1964, and the “military device” that would defend Jango simply missed the meeting. Marighella and other leaders and organizations even pressured loyalist officials to resist. But these soldiers invariably repeated that they were awaiting orders from Jango.

Repressive anger took over. In addition to persecution and arrests of opponents, suspension of political rights for ten years, indictments in Military Police Inquiries and dismissals or compulsory retirements from public service. Almost 180 federal deputies were impeached from 1964 to 1979. The uniformed regime resorted to kidnapping, illegal imprisonment, torture and murder; intervened in more than 400 unions and banned union centrals; closed the National Union of Students and student directories; promoted wage squeezes and drastic cuts in social, labor and social security rights; he bowed, like the most venal of vassals, to big national and foreign capital, to the financial market and to the latifundia; imposed the gag to prevent denunciations of its corruption scandals, dilapidation of public assets and foreign debt.

Carlos, included in Institutional Act number 1, lost his political rights and fled with his family minutes before his rented apartment on Rua Corrêa Dutra, in Flamengo, was invaded by the DOPS. There, Carlos and Clara legally lived during the governments of Juscelino Kubitschek and João Goulart. In the 22 years they lived together, it was the only time they were able to circulate freely, with a known address and telephone number.

On May 9, 1964, DOPS agents followed Marighella who, realizing the siege, tried to confuse them by entering Cine Eskye, in Tijuca, in the north of Rio, which was showing the film Rififi on safari. The lights in the hall came on and Marighella resisted the prison voice by shouting: “Down with the fascist military dictatorship! Long live democracy! Long live the Communist Party!” Even though he was shot in the chest, he faced the assassins of the coup and was detained at great cost. He spent two months in jail, incommunicado, being exhaustively interrogated until the granting of habeas corpus, filed by lawyer Sobral Pinto. He had to go back underground, due to the decree of his preventive detention by the Military Justice of São Paulo.

Less than a year later, Marighella published Why I resisted arrest. The 18 chapters include autobiographical accounts, a detailed description of his arrest in 1964, allegations of aggression against politicians, intellectuals and union leaders, and an assessment of the disastrous consequences of the coup. In the controversial part of the book, he exposed his disagreement with the peaceful path to revolution in Brazil. He pointed out mistakes made by the PCB that would have contributed to the immobility of the popular forces in the face of the fall of Jango. He considered as serious mistakes the policy of conciliation with the bourgeoisie (“the tendency of the bourgeoisie is towards capitulation without resistance to the right”), the weak penetration in the countryside, the contempt for the middle class, the underestimation of grassroots work, the insufficient commitment in the political formation of the proletariat and the exaggerated trust in the military device of the deposed president.

In 20 years, the scenario had changed dramatically. If in the post-war period of 1945 the atmosphere of euphoria with freedom and hopes for socialism convinced Marighella to maintain that “armed coups, disorder and violence will not help the march of democracy forward”, the political context of 1964 it seemed hopelessly gray and hostile to her. In the text “The role of popular and nationalist forces”, from 1965, included in Why I resisted arrest, he stressed that the consequences of the anti-popular and anti-social coup put the peaceful path in check. “No legal possibility can be overlooked, from summit understandings to the legal struggle or the human struggle for solidarity with political prisoners and their families, with persecuted politicians and exiles, a struggle that is of immense importance and that can never be relegated. the background. But it is evident that the solution of the Brazilian problem by a peaceful way has distanced itself enormously from reality, after the use of violence by the enemies of the people”.[14]

The passage in which Marighella indicated guerrilla warfare as one of the forms of resistance that should be taken into account when facing the dictatorship aroused reactions and controversies in sectors of the PCB: “The Brazilian socioeconomic reality may lead to the appearance of guerrillas and other forms of struggle that have arisen. from the experience of the masses”. The mention of the Cuban Revolution as “an illustrative example that in Latin America – or at least in many Latin American countries – there is nothing to expect from a peaceful path to the conquest of independence or social progress” was not casual.[15]

the theses of Why I resisted arrest, shared by Mário Alves, Apolônio de Carvalho and Jacob Gorender, were defeated in a meeting of the Central Committee. The division became clear: on the one hand, Marighella's group in opposition to pacifism; on the other, Prestes and the majority of the CC, who reaffirmed the postulates of the V Congress, departing from them to elaborate a tactic in face of the new political framework. Despite the internal criticisms of Prestes and the Executive Committee for the lack of a correct assessment of the situation and for the immobility that led the party not to organize resistance to the coup, no convincing self-criticism came from the PCB leadership.

In the 1966 essay “The Brazilian Crisis”, Marighella outlined the field that could be explored by the guerrillas. “Brazil is a country surrounded by the current military dictatorship and by the North American ruling circles, at whose service are the traitors who excited power. Within the conditions of this siege, the Brazilian guerrilla – with its clearly political content – ​​cannot fail to signify a protest, a reference to the elevation of the struggle of our people”.

As evidence that he was already guided by the compass of the armed struggle, he added: “No one expects the guerrillas to be the signal for a popular uprising or for the sudden proliferation of insurrectionary foci. The guerrillas will be the stimulus for the continuation of the resistance struggle everywhere. For the deepening of the fight for the formation of the antidictatorial united front. For the final effort of the joint struggle, of all Brazilians, a struggle that will end up putting the dictatorship to the ground”.[16]

These ideas were poorly received and disapproved by the Central Committee of the PCB. On December 1, 1966, Marighella resigned from the Executive Committee in a ten-page letter. “The contrast between our political and ideological positions is too great and there is an unsustainable situation among us”, he emphasized, expressing his willingness to “fight revolutionaryly, together with the masses, and never wait for the rules of the bureaucratic and conventional political game that prevails in leadership.” In frontal opposition to the party directive that pointed to the need for an antidictatorial front inserted in the mass struggle, he maintained that “the struggle for basic reforms is not possible peacefully, unless through the seizure of power by revolutionary means and with the consequent modification of the military structure that serves the dominant classes”. He went further by saying that “the abandonment of the revolutionary path leads to a loss of confidence in the proletariat, which is then transformed into an auxiliary of the bourgeoisie, while the Marxist party becomes an appendix of the bourgeois parties”.[17]

Marighella remained, however, on the São Paulo Committee, being re-elected by a wide margin at the State Conference of the PCB, in Campinas, São Paulo, in April 1967. Luiz Carlos Prestes surprisingly attended, but was unable to reverse the votes in favor of Marighella . The biographer Emiliano José narrated the “duel” of the titans in this way: “The atmosphere was tense. The Central Committee, aware of Marighella's strength in the state, sent a delegation led by Prestes himself, evidencing the importance that the hegemonic portion of the party gave to the meeting”.

It was a clash of ideas, and two great leaders. An almost mythological one, that of Prestes, the “Knight of Hope”, the leader of the column that bore his name, the martyr of the Estado Novo, the personification of the communists in Brazil. Another, as old as his and now a rising star, for the proposals he defended and for the courage shown in the fight against the dictatorship – Marighella. The votes of the 37 delegates chosen by the rank and file translated the dimension of Marighella's prestige: 33 voted with their theses and only three stayed with Prestes. The armed struggle was gaining ground and the worker-peasant alliance became, at that conference, a priority over the alliance with the national bourgeoisie, to the discomfort of the Prestes movement”.[18]

Tensions with the leadership of the PCB did not prevent him from continuing to compile the poems he had been writing since 1929. The second book, The lilies no longer grow in our fields, was funded by him in 1966. The first volume had been A proof in verses and other verses, published in 1959 by Edições Contemporâneas.[19] I transcribe one of them, “The country of a single note”,

I don't intend anything
nor flowers, praises, triumphs.
nothing at all.
Just a protest,
a breach in the wall,
and make it echo,
with a deaf voice,
and without other value,
what hides in the chest,
deep in the soul
of millions of suffocated.
Something I can filter my thoughts through,
the idea they put in jail.
The pass went up,
the milk ran out,
the child died,
the meat is gone
the IPM arrested,
the DOPS tortured,
the deputy gave in,
the hard line vetoed,
censorship prohibited,
the government gave
unemployment rose,
the scarcity increased,
the Northeast has shrunk,
the country slipped.

Everything hurts
everything hurts,
everything hurts...
And across the country
echoes the tone
one note...
one note...

Despite being disallowed by the Central Committee, Marighella traveled with a false passport to Havana, where, from July 31 to August 10, 1967, he participated, as an observer, in the 1st Conference of the Latin American Solidarity Organization (OLAS). The event brought together revolutionary leaders from all over the continent. With the slogan “One, two, three, a thousand Vietnams!”, Cuba offered support to national liberation movements in Latin America.

Upon confirmation of Marighella's presence, the PCB leadership sent a telegram to the Cuban PC warning that he was not authorized to represent the party at OLAS and threatening him with expulsion. Marighella responded with a letter announcing her disaffiliation. After the conference, he spent a few months in Cuba, where he wrote the first systematic text on the subject: “Some questions about the guerrillas in Brazil”, published by Newspapers in Brazil on September 5, 1968.[20] He returned to Brazil with the promise of Cuban support for a guerrilla outbreak.

The VI Congress of the PCB, held in December 1967, approved a resolution against the insurrectionary route and ratified the expulsions from the party, “for factional activities”, of Carlos Marighella, Mário Alves, Joaquim Câmara Ferreira, Apolônio de Carvalho, Jacob Gorender, Jover Telles and Miguel Batista. The party called on militants to engage in a broad mass mobilization against the dictatorial regime. The revolutionary horizon presupposed a gradual accumulation of forces and the organization of the working class and anti-fascist layers into a “democratic and popular front”.

In February 1968, Marighella founded, with Câmara Ferreira, the Communist Group of São Paulo, which did not want to be a new CP. “Now we need a clandestine, well-structured, flexible, mobile organization. A vanguard organization to act, to practice constant and daily revolutionary action, and not to remain in endless discussions and meetings”, he explained in the opening statement of the organization. “It would be unforgivable for us to waste time organizing a new summit, launching the so-called programmatic and tactical documents and holding new conferences, from which another Central Committee would emerge with the vices and deformations already all too well known. (…) What unites Brazilian revolutionaries is triggering action, and action is guerrilla warfare”.[21]

The National Liberation Action emerged in July 1968, conceived as “the embryo of the revolutionary army, the armed force of the people, the only one capable of destroying the armed forces of reaction, overthrowing the dictatorship and expelling imperialism”. The ALN broke with the concept of a party in the Marxist-Leninist tradition, eliminating, in Marighella's words, "the complex leadership system that includes intermediate levels and a numerous, heavy and bureaucratic leadership". more than 20 years.

“Action makes the vanguard”, was the motto of the ALN, which corresponded, as highlighted by sociologist Marcelo Ridenti, to Marighella's theoretical concept according to which “the development of the organization would come from action, that is, from revolutionary violence, never from theoretical debates, largely superfluous, since Leninism to the lessons of the Cuban Revolution would be enough to launch the Brazilian and Latin American revolution”.[22] He put this into practice in the series of robberies against banks and pay cars carried out on the Rio-São Paulo axis, some of which were led by Marighella. The Little Manual of the Urban Guerrilla, written by him in June 1969 and translated into several languages, became a guide on techniques for preparing armed actions.

In the text “Call to the Brazilian People”, from December 1968, Marighella exposed the measures that the ALN would carry out, “in an unappealable way”, in power. Among them, the abolition of censorship privileges; freedom of creation and religion; release of all political prisoners and those condemned by the dictatorship; extinction of repression bodies and the National Information Service (SNI); summary public trial and execution of CIA agents active in the country, as well as police agents responsible for torturing and shooting prisoners; expulsion from the country of American citizens involved with the military regime, with confiscation of their assets; state monopoly of finance, foreign trade, mineral wealth, communications and essential services; confiscation of national private capital companies that collaborated with the dictatorship; confiscation of illicit wealth; confiscation of large estates, with the extinction of the land monopoly and of all forms of exploitation of rural workers, and the guarantee of property titles to farmers who worked the land; elimination of corruption; job guarantees for all workers and women; reform of the educational system, with the cancellation of the MEC-USAID agreement.[23]

Indeed, the ALN represented the first serious split in the left. In the political-ideological fragmentation, pro-armed struggle organizations emerged, such as the Revolutionary Movement of October 8 (MR-1962), the Revolutionary Popular Vanguard (VPR), the Revolutionary Armed Vanguard (VAR-Palmares), Popular Action (AP, later Ação Popular Marxista-Leninista, APML), the PC do B and the Brazilian Revolutionary Communist Party (PCBR). Since the rupture that led to the creation of the PC do B in 1964, the PCB had lost a significant number of experienced cadres, starting with Marighella. Practically everyone who joined the armed struggle was in disagreement with the so-called “peaceful line”, with the class conciliation policy that prevailed until XNUMX and with the centralizing bureaucracy of the party's decision-making processes.

From the PCB's point of view, the confrontation with the military regime was a mistaken and voluntary solution, which did not take into account the unfavorable correlation of forces on the left. It was feared that the guerrillas would provide pretexts for the radical right to intensify repression and annihilate the still existing spaces of freedom, isolating the communists once and for all.

Such arguments did not find echo among supporters of the armed struggle, whose impetus for action was guided by the references mentioned by historian Daniel Aarão Reis Filho: “the utopia of impasse, that is, the idea that the government did not have the historical conditions to offer political alternatives to the country; and that the great popular masses, disillusioned with the reformist programs, would tend to move towards radical expectations and positions of armed, revolutionary confrontation”.[24]

Among the testimonies that most help compose the profile of Carlos Marighella in the stormy phase of the ALN, I include that of João Antônio Caldas Valença, the former Friar Maurício, who lived with him in 1969, when he was one of the nine Dominican friars who joined to the logistics sector of the organization. In a statement to Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais, he underlined: “Marighella had a very sharp way of looking and a penetrating way of approaching in dialogues with her interlocutors. […] He was an extremely polite, kind person. He listened a lot and was very confident in his arguments when he spoke. He was very critical of a lifetime of militancy in the PCB and its process of leaving. He had an entire critical reflection on the history of popular struggles in Brazil, in which he had participated since the period of the Vargas dictatorship. He had a knowledge of the technical area because he was connected, during the period of his studies, to the exact sciences. He was polyglot, mastered the classics, although he spoke little about them. His sensitivity spilled over into small acts, on the occasion of his visits, more than necessary for the running of the organization he headed, to the homes of ALN militants. He remembered the name of each host's child. He had a prodigious memory for remembering names and was concerned with the personal development and training of militants. He had information on every person he met and kept details of conversations or situations.”

Security was a constant concern as far as the ALN was concerned. “He was demanding and very clear about what he wanted on this point”, highlighted João Antônio Caldas Valença. “But at the same time that he was demanding, he dared to be in any corner of São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro that was necessary. He was seen by those who knew him in the most unusual places, such as squares in the center of these cities. He was not afraid of this type of locomotion since it was within the safety principles that he obeyed.”

According to Valença, Marighella showed “deep respect for the Dominicans, she knew exactly the role of the religious group in the process of struggle in Brazil, so she respected their exposed religiosity, experienced several times by the friars. She was even present at some liturgical acts, such as the Eucharist, and I noticed in her a deep respect for what was being experienced by the community (in a college of nuns) in relation to the Christian act”.

Among the ALN's most daring actions after the enactment of Institutional Act No. 5 was the kidnapping of the US ambassador, Charles Burke Elbrick, in September 1969, in partnership with the MR-8. Marighella was not involved with the operation, commanded by Joaquim Câmara Ferreira (1913-1970), Toledo. The ALN followed the principle of tactical autonomy of armed groups in confronting the repressive system. Principle, by the way, conceived by Marighella himself in the Little manual of the urban guerrilla, three months earlier: “The organization is an indestructible network of fire and coordination groups, having a simple and practical operation, with a general command that also participates in attacks”.[25]

According to Carlos Eugênio Sarmento Coelho da Paz, known as Clemente (1950-2019), the last military commander of the ALN, Câmara Ferreira was in favor of the kidnapping and association with the MR-8: “Evidently, Marighella had political greatness and, from the the moment the action was taken, she supported it and urged the organization to support it. But I heard from Marighella's own mouth that it wasn't the time to carry out an action like the kidnapping of the American ambassador, which was going to turn power against us, and that's what happened”, declared Carlos Eugênio.[26]

It is worth remembering that in the communiqué “About the organization of revolutionaries”, released by the ALN in August 1979, Marighella had warned the most daring about triumphalist acts and assessments on the guerrilla front. “Some comrades think that our Organization is already built, perfect and finished. Such thinking is not correct. Our Organization builds itself as the action appears. Each component of our Organization has to do its part. Everyone has to experience it.(…) It's dangerous to think that we have strength that we don't yet have”.[27]

The joint action with the MR-8 in the kidnapping of Burke Elbrick also involved an attempt to demonstrate strength and a sense of unity between organizations with different strategies, at a time when the possibilities of articulation were very difficult due to the rigors and risks of clandestinity. And there were still disputes over position between them for the revolutionary vanguard. Anyway, ALN and MR-8 achieved national and international repercussions with the hijacking; obtained the release and banishment of 15 political prisoners; and, as they also demanded, the broadcast on television and radio of the manifesto to the nation clarifying the reasons for the fight against the excesses and barbarities of the dictatorship, momentarily breaking the censorship of the media.

On the occasion of the release of the political prisoners exchanged for Elbrick, Marighella wrote the brief text “Salutation to the fifteen patriots”, stating that he was sure that “the Brazilian people approve of the attitude of Ação Libertadora Nacional and of those who with it participated in the kidnapping of the US ambassador. U.S. This was one of the ways that Brazilian revolutionaries found to free a handful of patriots who were suffering the most brutal punishments imposed by military fascists in the country's prisons”.

Months earlier, between April and August 1969, in a house in the suburbs of Rio, and in the precarious conditions imposed by clandestinity, Marighella recorded her political texts on roll and cassette tapes for Rádio Libertadora, whose objective was to broadcast revolutionary propaganda on high-speed channels. neighborhood and suburban speakers and, if possible, radios. Student Iara Xavier Pereira, 17, an ALN ​​activist, helped with the recordings and acted as presenter. “Marighella thought both of small and localized actions (loudspeaker service) and of wide dissemination actions, via radio, like the action carried out by the members of the ALN who took over the transmission tower of Rádio Nacional, in Greater São Paulo, and they broadcast the message 'To the Brazilian people' [written by Marighella himself] on August 15, 1969,” said Iara.[28] The project highlighted the relevant role that Marighella attributed to counter-information, counter-ideology and counter-propaganda in alternative means of communication. It was about creating artifices capable of circumventing, with denunciation content and political orientation, the corporate censorship of a large part of the media, an accomplice of the regime, and the official censorship exercised by the information organs of the political police and the armed forces.


Most of the studies already produced indicate that, in the last month of her life, Marighella considered it convenient to retreat from armed actions, with the purpose of protecting the ALN militants in the face of the devastating offensive by the police-military apparatus in retaliation for the kidnapping of the ambassador. The watchword was to liquidate the urban guerrillas at any cost. Marighella dead, the prime target.

The ALN leader was determined to accelerate plans for the deployment of rural guerrilla warfare. He would travel to the central region of the country on November 9, 1969. His last interview was given between the 1st and 2nd to the journalist Conrad Detrez and published by the French magazine Front. When asked if he hoped to make the revolution, he replied with words that seemed to foreshadow that he would not be present on the day of final victory: “That's not the point. I only know one thing: the revolutionary march has been unleashed, no one will be able to stop it. The revolution is not the business of a few, but that of a people and its vanguard. I am part of it, for having given, with other comrades, the starting blow. But it is clear that the fight will be long and that the day will come when people younger than me will have to replace me. Incidentally, most of the militants who follow our guidance are at least twenty-five years younger than us. When the time comes, one of them will carry my flag or my rifle, if you prefer”.[29]

However, on the night of November 4, 1969, one month before his 58th birthday, Carlos Marighella was cowardly murdered by dictatorship assassins commanded by delegate Sérgio Paranhos Fleury, in an ambush at Alameda Casa Branca, in São Paulo, His death and the successive declines in the organizations, mainly between 1969 and 1971, attested to the unequal and reckless clash between the guerrillas and the police-military apparatus of the regime – which led, in later years, to social isolation and the exhaustion of the armed struggle.

Paulo Mercadante last met Carlos in 1967. Leaving a dental office on the corner of Rua da Quitanda and Rua São José, in downtown Rio, Paulo was walking towards Esplanada do Castelo, when he saw that tall, burly man with his head shaved. The dark glasses weren't enough to hide the face of the friend he hadn't seen for years. Paulo went towards him, Carlos recognized him and they hugged. It was a quick contact as the situation demanded – Marighella was being hunted as “enemy number one of the regime”. By a strange coincidence, Mercadante learned of Carlos' death exactly at the place of their last meeting. Coming from the same dental office, the lawyer stopped at the newsstand and read, devastated, the newspaper headlines about the end of the savagery in Alameda Casa Branca.

Marighella's body was buried by the DOPS, as an indigent, in the cemetery of Vila Formosa, in São Paulo. Ten years later, on December 10, 1979, on the occasion of the transfer of his mortal remains to the Cemetery of Quintas dos Lázaros, in Salvador, Jorge Amado wrote a moving text about his old comrade on the communist bench in the 1946 Constituent Assembly, read at the edge of the grave by former Bahian PCB deputy Fernando Santana. Here is the final paragraph: “They tore your memory to pieces, salted your name in the public square, you were banned in your country and among your own. Ten whole, ferocious years of slander and hatred, in an attempt to extinguish your truth, so that no one could see you. Such vileness was of no use, it was nothing more than a vain and unsuccessful attempt, because here you are whole and clean. You crossed the endless night of lies and fear, of unreason and infamy, and disembarked at the dawn of Bahia, brought by hands of love and friendship. Here you are and everyone recognizes you as you were and will be forever: an incorruptible Brazilian, a young man from Bahia with a jovial laugh and a burning heart. Here you are among your friends and among those who are your flesh and blood. They came to welcome you and talk to you, hear your voice and feel your heart. Your fight was against hunger and misery, you dreamed of wealth and joy, you loved life, human beings, freedom. Here you are, planted in your ground and you will bear fruit. You didn't have time to be afraid, you won the time of fear and despair. Antonio de Castro Alves, your dream brother, divined you in a verse: “it was the future in front of the past. You're at home, Carlos; your memory restored, limpid and pure, made of truth and love. You arrived here by the hand of the people. More alive than ever, Carlos”.

On the tombstone of Carlos' tomb in the Quintas dos Lázaros Cemetery, Oscar Niemeyer drew the silhouette of Marighella riddled with bullets, next to the phrase that serves as his epitaph: “I didn't have time to be afraid”.


In May 1996, a dossier from the Special Commission on the Dead and Disappeared, of the Ministry of Justice, contested the official version that Marighella had died in reaction to the arrest order given by Chief Fleury. According to expert Nelson Massini's report, he was executed with a shot in the chest, at close range, after being wounded by four shots. At Fleury's orders, DOPS agents threw him dead in the back of a VW Beetle, in order to fake the shooting. On September 11, 1996, by five votes to two, the Commission on the Dead and Disappeared held the Union responsible for Marighella's death. The Ministry of Justice ratified the decision, determining the payment of compensation to the widow Clara Charf.

In its final report, released in December 2014, the National Truth Commission confirmed, based on new expert reports, that Marighella was shot in cold blood: “The shot that hit Marighella in the thoracic region, probably the last one, was fired at very short distance (less than eight centimeters), through the gap formed by opening the right door of the vehicle, in a typical execution action”.[30]

On December 13, 1999, the Chamber of Deputies held a solemn session to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Marighella's death, also evoked in the exhibition “Carlos Marighella 30 years later”, which toured the country after a season at the Memorial da América Latina, in São Paulo. On the occasion of the centenary of Marighella's birth, on December 5, 2011, the Amnesty Commission of the Ministry of Justice held a special session in her honor at Teatro Vila Velha, in Salvador. On behalf of the Brazilian State, the Minister of Justice, José Eduardo Cardozo, and of Human Rights, Maria do Rosário, officially apologized to Marighella's family for her murder.

Carlos Marighella is the name of streets in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador, Belo Horizonte, Porto Alegre, Recife and Belém, among other cities. At the place of execution in Alameda Casa Branca, a monument was erected in his honor. The Movement of Landless Rural Workers (MST) maintains the Carlos Marighella School on the former Cabaceiras farm, today Acampamento 26 de Março, in Marabá, Pará, which serves 600 students enrolled in kindergarten and elementary school and in youth and adult education. Inaugurated in 1973 in the municipality of Sandino, province of Pinar del Río, Cuba, Escuela Carlos Marighella develops activities focused on agricultural work.

On February 17, 2014, after a vote in which students, alumni, parents, teachers and employees participated, the name of Colégio Estadual Presidente Emílio Garrastazu Médici, in the Stiep neighborhood, in Salvador, was changed to Colégio Estadual do Stiep Carlos Marighella. Of the total of 658 votes counted by the commission responsible, Marighella obtained 461 and another great Brazilian and Bahian, the geographer Milton Santos, received 132, with 65 blank or null. The change was endorsed in an ordinance by the government of Bahia; On April 11, 2014, Governor Jaques Wagner, from the PT, inaugurated the school's plaque and sign with the name of Carlos Marighella.

In a serene analysis of the historical circumstances, we can discuss and question some of his beliefs, strategic conceptions and political tactics. But to Marighella what is Marighella's: few men in our country have shown such bravery in the arduous struggle for social emancipation. He never compromised on essentials: he was always in solidarity with the exploited, oppressed and excluded.

In your beautiful rehearsal "The flame that does not go out”, sociologist Florestan Fernandes (1920-1995) reassessed the ideas, vicissitudes, mistakes and successes, contradictions, commitments and fearlessness that singled out the legacy of Carlos Marighella. And he concluded: “A Man does not disappear with his death. On the contrary, he can grow after her, grow with her, and reveal his true stature from a distance. This is what happens with Marighella. He died consecrated by indomitable courage and revolutionary ardor.”[31]

* Denis de Moraes, journalist and writer, he is a retired associate professor at the Institute of Art and Social Communication at Universidade Federal Fluminense. Author, among other books, of Old Graça: a biography of Graciliano Ramos (José Olympio).

This text is a revised, modified and expanded version of the article “Carlos Marighella, 90 anos”, published on the website Gramsci and BrazilIn 2001.



[1] Denis de Moraes. Old Graça: a biography of Graciliano Ramos. São Paulo: Boitempo, 2012, p. 240.

[2] Jacob Gorender, "Recollections of a Companion". In: Cristiane Nova and Jorge Nóvoa (eds.). Carlos Marighella: the man behind the myth. São Paulo: Editora Unesp, 1999, p. 396.

[3] Oscar Niemeyer's testimony in the documentary marighella, by Isa Grinspum Ferraz, 2012.

[4] Mario Magalhães. Marighella: the guerrilla fighter who set the world on fire, ob. cit. .São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2012, p. 64.

[5] Carlos Marighella. Why I resisted arrest. São Paulo: Brasiliense; Salvador: EDUFBA, 1995, p. 23-24.

[6] John Falcon. Giocondo Dias: the life of a revolutionary. Rio de Janeiro: Agir, 1993, p. 83-87.

[7] Mario Magalhães. Marighella: the guerrilla fighter who set the world on fire, ob. cit., p. 154.

[8] Jorge Amado, “The man who laughed and cried”. In: Cristiane Nova and Jorge Nóvoa (eds.). Carlos Marighella: the man behind the myth. São Paulo: Editora Unesp, 1999, p. 386.

[9] See José Fernando Martins, “Meet Clara Charf, the Maceio woman who fought alongside Marighella”, Extra Newspaper, Maceió, December 4, 2021.

[10] Interview by Maria Cláudia Badan Ribeiro to Emily Dulce, “Women were protagonists of the armed resistance to the dictatorship”, Brazil of Fact, December 6, 2018. See also Maria Cláudia Badan Ribeiro. Women who went to war armed: female protagonism in the ALN (National Liberation Action). Sao Paulo: Alameda, 2018.

[11] Denis de Moraes. old grace, ob. cit., p. 259-260.

[12] Carlos Marighella, “Let us honor the memory of the great Stalin”, Working Voice, March 10, 1953.

[13] Denis de Moraes. The left and the blow of 64. São Paulo: Popular Expression, 2011, p. 180.

[14] Carlos Marighella. Why did I resist arrest, ob. cit., p. 141.

[15] Idem.

[16] Writings by Carlos Marighella. São Paulo: Editorial Livramento, 1979, p. 88.

[17] Ibidem, p. 89.

[18] Emiliano Jose. Carlos Marighella: the number one enemy of the military dictatorship. São Paulo: Sol & Chuva, 1997, p. 217.

[19] Marighella's two volumes of poetry were collected, posthumously, in the book Freedom rondo: poems. São Paulo: Editora Brasiliense, 1994.

[20] Writings by Carlos Marighella, op. cit., p. 117-130.

[21] Ibidem, p. 137.

[22] Marcelo Ridenti. The Ghost of the Brazilian Revolution. São Paulo: Editora Unesp, 1993, p. 39.

[23] Writings by Carlos Marighella, ob. cit., p. 139-143.

[24] Daniel Aaron Reis. Military dictatorship, lefts and society. Rio de Janeiro: Zahar, 2005, p. 50.

[25] Carlos Marighella. Urban Guerrilla Handbook and Other Texts. 2nd ed. Lisboa: Assírio & Alvim, 1974, p. 67.

[26] Testimony by Carlos Eugênio Sarmento Coelho da Paz in the documentary Marighella: sketch of the guerrilla fighter, by Silvio Tendler, 2001.

[27] The full text “On the organization of revolutionaries” is available at:

[28] Iara Xavier Pereira, “Introduction: Radio Libertadora Project”. In: Rádio Libertadora: the words of Carlos Marighella. Organized by Iara Xavier Pereira. Brasilia: Ministry of Justice/Amnesty Commission, 2012, p. 21.

[29] “Read a facsimile of an unpublished interview by Marighella to the French magazine”, Cult, September 30, 2019. Available at:

[30]Report of the National Truth Commission; v. 1. Brasilia: CNV, 2014, p. 448. Available at:

[31] Florestan Fernandes. The Necessary Contestation: Intellectual Portraits of Nonconformists and Revolutionaries. São Paulo: Attica, 1995, p. 149.


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