Bahian mayor tried to resist the coup in 1964 – 03/24/2024 – Power

Bahian mayor tried to resist the coup in 1964 – 03/24/2024 – Power


The city of Feira de Santana (109 km from Salvador) was buzzing that night of March 31, 1964, hours after the first reports arrived that a coup d’état was underway in the country.

Mayor Francisco Pinto and allies took turns holding meetings at the municipal palace headquarters, a classic and baroque style building built in the 1920s, and at his house, on Avenida Senhor dos Passos. Barricades with sandbags were erected in front of the city hall.

Chico Pinto was elected in 1962 by the centrist PSD (Social Democratic Party), but was known for his progressive ideas. He had a close relationship with the PCB (Brazilian Communist Party) and led a management that anticipated public policies that would be flagships of the left in the near future.

“We discussed what to do and decided to resist. A series of measures were adopted to resist the coup plotters”, recalls Chico Pinto in a statement to the book “Autênticos do MDB”, by Ana Beatriz Nader.

PCB militants mobilized their bases. They were joined by a group of young people from AP (Popular Action) who disembarked in Feira de Santana, fleeing an already besieged Salvador. Among them were names like Duarte Pacheco Pereira, Fernando Schmidt and Haroldo Lima.

The plan was to take over the Military Police barracks, the city’s Military Police Station and begin resistance in defense of President João Goulart (1919-1976), known as Jango. The next step would be to organize a public event that linked Feira de Santana to other centers of resistance that, they assumed, would emerge across the country.

As journalist Claudio Leal narrates in the book “Bahia 1964”, still unpublished, Chico Pinto led the debates on possible armed resistance. A retired colonel proposed blowing up a bridge on the road to the capital, to prevent the arrival of Army troops. The proposal was not accepted.

They also proposed occupying the Capuchin friars’ radio station to speak in defense of Jango, but the mayor preferred not to offend the religious, already eyeing possible coverage of the rally that had been planned.

“Today, I remember: it was crazy! I had bought bombs to destroy bridges and prevent access to the Fair. It would be crazy”, said Chico Pinto, in 2007, in a statement for the book.

The news that came from outside cooled the momentum of the mayor and his allies. They expected a reaction along the lines of the legality campaign led by governors Miguel Arraes (Pernambuco) and Leonel Brizola (Rio Grande do Sul) – which did not happen.

In Bahia, the then governor Lomanto Júnior, who had been dubious since the beginning of the coup, capitulated and joined the coup plotters. In Brasília, the National Congress declared the Presidency of the Republic vacant, while Jango headed to Rio Grande do Sul.

In Feira de Santana, there was also an assessment that there was no concrete plan or equipment to resist. They had no weapons – their arsenal was limited to a hunting rifle and two revolvers.

Thus, they began demobilization even before the first step and drew up escape plans for those who had come from the capital.

Born in 1930, son of a Udenist father and a Getulista mother, Chico Pinto was elected councilor in Feira de Santana in 1954, the same year he entered the Faculty of Law in Salvador. He lived between the two cities, at the time connected by a precarious road, with trips lasting up to four hours.

Graduated in law, he began working as a lawyer in Feira de Santana in civil, criminal and labor cases – he defended the construction and tobacco sector workers’ unions.

In 1962, he ran for mayor against a young politician who was emerging and was considered unbeatable in that election: João Durval Carneiro, from UDN, who would be governor from 1983 to 1986.

He decided to bet on a bold strategy, adopting the slogan “Francisco Pinto in the city hall is the people governing”. While his opponent posed for photos with conservative leaders, he took a portrait with a farm worker with a sickle on one side and a factory worker with a hammer on the other.

“I did something that I don’t know if it was very correct. At some rallies, I said ‘I don’t want a vote from the bourgeoisie’. Risky as hell, crazy. I won the election, despite that”, said Chico Pinto in an interview with this reporter in 2007.

During his administration, he called on residents to organize themselves into neighborhood associations and adopted a pioneering policy for the time: the participatory budget, which would become one of the PT’s main banners in the 1990s.

The mayor brought together the residents of the neighborhoods, who chose by vote which was the priority project for the locality. The next day, workers disembarked to begin work on paving streets, building schools and installing a water network.

“The people being organized and not being induced to do what others determine is a beauty. The most beautiful thing I participated in in my life was that there. That gave great strength to the government”, he recalled.

In education, he welcomed the Jango government’s proposal for literacy using the Paulo Freire method. He also created a popular pharmacy, another policy that would be adopted by left-wing governments in the following decades.

He picked fights with the City Council after the majority of councilors voted against the participatory budget. Protesters sided with the mayor and led a protest that resulted in a riot in the Chamber plenary, which was held in the city hall building.

When the military coup broke out in 1964, and the resistance plan collapsed in its early days, Chico Pinto’s impeachment and arrest became a matter of time. Pressure came from above and, days later, Army troops from Alagoas disembarked in Feira de Santana.

“These were days of great tension, there was a large military mobilization in the city. Troops arrived to repress, including torture”, recalls lawyer Celso Daltro, who was a student leader and an officer in the mayor’s office in 1964.

The mayor’s allies were arrested and taken to a tobacco warehouse, where they were questioned and some of them were tortured in a press. Chico Pinto was arrested at home, in front of his mother, and taken to a basement in the Army barracks.

The military called on councilors to vote on the mayor’s impeachment in a City Council surrounded by armed men. Even so, there was no two-thirds majority to carry out the removal in two votes.

Faced with the impasse, the mayor was impeached by a decree signed only by three members of the board of directors. In his place, councilor Joselito Amorim was sworn in, who, decades later, admitted that the city’s right-wing groups received weapons to face possible resistance.

“Chico Pinto was one of the bravest personalities I knew, he had reckless courage. He was a giant in the history of Brazil”, says writer and former federal deputy Emiliano José.

Deposed and arrested, he responded to eight military police cases and inquiries. He made his own defense and was tried by the Superior Military Court, being unanimously acquitted.

He returned to the political spotlight for the MDB, being elected federal deputy in 1970 and standing out as a member of the authentic group, the most combative parliamentary group opposing the military regime.

In 1974, he made a historic speech in the Chamber against the presence in Brazil of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, calling him a murderer and a fascist. Due to this speech, he was prosecuted by the government of dictator Ernesto Geisel and sentenced to six months in prison by the STF (Supreme Federal Court). For the second time, his mandate was revoked.

He ended his public life in 1991, when he concluded his last term as a federal deputy. He died in February 2008, aged 77, after facing kidney problems. Six years later, he had his mandate as mayor symbolically returned by the Feira de Santana City Council.


Source link