Poetry messages on the morning of April 25th

Poster published following the Carnation Revolution.


Tribute to the anonymous people of the streets, the Captains of April and all the men and women who made their lives a militant priesthood against fascism


It's six o'clock in the morning on April 25th. My friend Artur Scavone sent me a summons last night – only read today at 5.30 am – asking me for a text about the Carnation Revolution. To make an attempt at an essay you would need a few weeks, to write a political chronicle a few days, but for a poetic tribute – taken from the bottom of the heart of those who have followed April since its first hours – it is possible to squeeze from the soul words that show joy and suffering for April and its heroes. Above all, to remember the anonymous people of the streets, the Captains of April and all the men and women who made their lives a militant priesthood against fascism.

Autumn in Porto Alegre is soft, warm and clear, like the revived consciousness of these fighters for freedom and equality. I immediately think of the poetics of Mário Quintana who says “I feel an infinite pain in the streets of Porto Alegre”, when I remember a pulsating city, in the arts, in politics, in democracy, in the World Social Forum, when the extreme right was just a whisper repressed in the basements of public space, because there was no environment to show his hateful face in the supportive and welcoming city. Mário Quintana's pain and April's memory merge in José Afonso's poetry, which also reveals what our city was: “in every face a friend, in every face equality!”.

The most profound conservative and reactionary revolution in the history of Brazil was not the 1964 coup, nor the AI ​​5 – brutal processes inscribed in the era of military dictatorships in Latin America –, extinguished in their original forms by popular struggles and successive crises of the Regime . The country's biggest historical disaster in the last six decades was the open-air genocide instigated against vaccination, developed by the government of Jair Bolsonaro, which had – in part – reasonable support among the population. What's more, a tacit acceptance of the Republic's institutions and a partial acceptance by the mainstream press, which made it a “natural right” for those who were elected and had the support of a significant part of the native bourgeoisie. Those responsible remain unpunished. And loose.


But memory suffers and pulsates for April and its heroes and it reminds me of one of the most beautiful passages in John Steinbeck's novels called The Grapes of Wrath: “The lands of the west stirred like horses before the storm.” The big problem with all revolutions, especially those that build or rebuild a democracy, is not the effervescence of sighs of relief, the agitations of a spring still without responsibility for rebuilding life – nor the eventual excesses of celebration – but it is how to build a new normality. In the joy of living of a democratic revolution, the constructive force of utopia is valid; in the work of building a democratic life, the responsibility of routine and the suffocation of bureaucracy prevail.

“Now no one closes the doors that April opened.” This ends a video poem that Flávio Aguiar, early in the morning, sent me from Germany. It is followed by a message that I also make my own: “Just crying. I let myself go.” Throughout Europe, the Americas and a good part of the world, the claws of fascism are sharpening, gaining voices in the mainstream press, organizing parties, gangs and moving from the caves of new information and communication technologies to full legality. And from there to their hiding places in the networks where they organize new types of coups d'état and religious companies, perverted to collect money accumulation.

It is the routine of the world where wealth without work rewards the investor in the empty marrow of immediate financial calculations and does not generate more work and occupation. The history of humanity is the history of the repetition of suffering, of cowardice, of bravery, of revolutions and reactions, of consciousness that is made and unmade, as supportive or hostile, generous and perverse, but it is above all the history of wars and revolutions, of weapons and of spirits, in which light and darkness follow. Does humanity evolve? Yes and no. It depends on where you look and what people we are talking about in the theater of history.

If we think that slavery was – as a rule – suppressed, we are also forced to think that death by hunger and torture was not eliminated. If we think that a businessman at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution could have private justice within his factory and today this is not admissible, yes, something has evolved, as history does not always repeat itself as a farce or tragedy. Tomás Eloy Martínez in his tango singer, in an incidental dialogue between characters in his novel, expresses this perplexity about evolution in a different way: “I replied” – says his character – “that a long time ago, I had studied a similar idea from the philosopher David Hume (…) repetition is nothing changes in the repeated object, but rather in the spirit that contemplates it.”

Some see April as a historic failure and the Cuban Revolution as a success. Others hate both revolutions, not because of the “evil” they did, because if that were the case they would be hostile to what remains of world bourgeois society, whose evil is exposed every day in front of everyone's face, without any constraints on assistance, as if the warlike tragedy of the capitalist world was just another video game for the entertainment of children caged in their apartments and in slums on all continents.

The eyes of those who look contain a worldview, a family tradition, a way of looking at generosity or evil, a testimony about the importance and/or irrelevance of the other being contemplated.

It is the spirit of those who contemplate history that commands memory, as David Hume said. But more than that is from which step of the ladder you look at the horizon of the world. To understand Cuba, it has to be compared to Panama and Haiti, not to Brazil or France. To understand April, one must compare Portugal today with what was the Portugal of the Tarrafal Prison, of the Colonial Wars, of its bourgeoisie mired in the Estado Novo to reproduce privileges, indifferent to the deaths in the War, the torture of the PIDE and hunger, poverty and ignorance of their everyday exploited people.

The April Revolution is a dream that has come true in part and is a reality that helps change the world for the better and organize resistance to the hydra of fascism, which already raises its thousand heads of death and hatred on all continents. That's why I celebrate the Revolution, its carnations on the tips of rifles, its joys that pass through the streets and the vibrancy of its heroes. I celebrate April, for its democratic fervor and I join the suffering and excluded people, who saw and see in that Revolution the “repeated object”, which creates through its light a more conscious look and a more generous place to recreate the world.

*Tarsus in law he was governor of the state of Rio Grande do Sul, mayor of Porto Alegre, Minister of Justice, Minister of Education and Minister of Institutional Relations in Brazil. Author, among other books, of possible utopia (Arts & Crafts) [https://amzn.to/3ReRb6I]

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