Whether in music or in costumes, it is likely that no Brazilian president has escaped satire from revelers. But only Itamar Franco (1930-2011) emerged from Carnival with an episode that overthrew a minister, raised voices for impeachment and even motivated a coup.
The case, 30 years ago, involved the model Lilian Ramos, whose photo appeared in the catalogs of escort agencies in São Paulo and who years before had posed nude, described as a lookalike of the singer Fafá de Belém.
After parading at Viradouro, Lilian managed to enter the presidential box with the help of her friend and then PL leader Valdemar Costa Neto.
The deputy would later become involved in more serious episodes, being arrested in the Mensalão and, last Thursday (8), for illegal possession of a weapon. But, in that 1994, it was Itamar who suffered the consequences.
The president, then 64, and Lilian, 27, spent three hours in the Sapucaí box, where the model whispered in his ear and received caresses. Everything recorded by photo reporters, who also noticed something else.
At that moment, without the Viradouro costume, Lilian was wearing a T-shirt, transparent tights and… nothing else.
“We agreed that each of us would record a roll of film, with 36 poses, and, after that, notify the presidential security guard”, narrated years later the photographer from O Estado de S. Paulo Wilson Pedrosa.
The most famous angle of the image was that recorded by Marcelo Carnaval, then at the newspaper O Globo. The image shows Itamar and, beside him, the model with their arms raised, revealing what the panties would hide.
Without immediate repercussions on the internet, the president had 12 hours to deepen his involvement in the story.
Report from Sheet the next day he says that, in the same morning, Itamar and Lilian went together to the Hotel Glória, where the president was staying.
In front of the crowd of journalists, he complained: “Don’t you realize that I need to talk to her?” It didn’t work out, and the model went home, where she received 1 of 4 phone calls that the president would make to her throughout the day.
He canceled his trip to Juiz de Fora (MG) and they arranged a dinner, which ended up being canceled after Jornal Nacional. The program showed Lilian on the phone with the president, repeating his phrases out loud — like one in which she said she was in love.
The case ended up in the news pasted on the word impeachment. The fear was that the president would be removed for lack of decorum less than two years after Collor suffered the same fate, amid accusations of corruption.
The leader of Fiesp, who had supported Collor, said that the company of a woman without panties was a reason for removal.
Then cardinal-archbishop of São Paulo, Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns said the scene was shocking. “I don’t know, however, whether it is very fair for the president to pay for all those who exaggerated during Carnival”, he pondered.
Among those who came out in defense of the Minas Gerais politician was Lula (PT), opponent of Itamar’s ticket in the previous presidential election. “I don’t think any Brazilian is against Itamar dating,” said the PT member, who in his third term would play with the promise of a Ministry of Dating.
Another person who had to raise concerns in the face of the (lack of) underwear crisis was Fernando Henrique Cardoso, then Minister of Finance.
The story was revealed in the book “A História Real – Trama de uma Successão”, by Sheet and edited by Ática, authored by Gilberto Dimenstein and Josias de Souza. Subsequently, the report was expanded upon in the publication of FHC’s diaries.
The toucan said that, at the time, he was approached by General Romildo Canhim, then minister of the Federal Administration Secretariat.
Canhim told him that the Carnival episode had gone very badly in the barracks and that military leaders wanted to know if, in the event of Itamar’s deposition, FHC would agree to remain as Minister of Finance.
According to his report, FHC refused and suggested the dismissal of the then Minister of Justice, Maurício Corrêa, who appeared drunk in the box. Corrêa left two months later, under the pretext of running for election, and ended up nominated to the STF (Supreme Federal Court).
Lilian’s life was scrutinized, she posed for Argentine Playboy magazine and moved to Italy.
In the country, she participated in television programs and said she was close to personalities such as Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — another whose involvement with women was mixed with political news.
Years later, Lilian stated that she was depressed by the repercussions of the Carnival episode. Today, at 59 years old, she shows joy. She regularly posts photos and videos on social media, dancing, with friends, on the beach or undergoing aesthetic treatments. The reporter tried to contact her, but received no response.
According to the news at the time, Itamar was resentful of the coverage of the episode. He told reporters the next day that he didn’t know the model was without underwear.
“No one warned. And, if they did, what was I going to do? Borrow a pair of panties? I didn’t have any.”