sexta-feira, 5 de novembro de 2010

In Spite of You Tomorrow Must be Another Day

A rose in a Coke bottle in an ex-jail cell in memory of those who died
and were tortured during the Brazilian military dictatorship, 1964-1984.
The old headquarters of the political police in São Paulo, DOPS, is now a
museum dedicated to the preservation of the memory of the crimes
of authoritarian government.

This one is for my American friends and relatives who are bummed out by the far right's apparent win in this week's elections in the United States.

"Apesar de Você" is a samba that was written and originally interpretted by Brazilian singer/songwriter Chico Buarque de Hollanda in 1970, during the height of the Brazilian military dictatorship. The song was banned from airplay by then President General Médici for its rather explicit criticism of the Brazilian far right.

Chico Buarque #4, banned in Brazil in 1970

In March 1970, Chico returned to Brazil from exile in Italy, having heard from a friend that things "were getting better". They were not. In fact, the period from 1968 to roughly 1974 in Brazil is now known as the "years of lead", when the nascent revolutionary movements in the country were squashed through mass arrests and torture. Chico expressed his disgust with the situation by writing "Apesar de você" - In Spite of You - a full-throated critique of the military regime thinly veiled as quarrel between lovers. When he sent it in to the censors to be vetted, Chico never imagined it would get through - but it did and it sold 100,000 copies.

As soon as a word-of-mouth campaign had put the word out onto the streets about what the song's target really was, Chico was denounced and "Apesar" was banned from the airways. Government officials invaded the record factory and destroyed what copies remained of the song. The censor who approved it was canned and Chico was dragged into political police headquarters and asked at the point of a truncheon who the "you" in the song referred to.

"Oh, it refers to a very pushy and authoritarian woman," said Chico. But everyone in Brazil new that it referred to the generals.

Because of "Apesar", Chico - who many consider to be Brazil's finest living poet - was marked out by the censors as an irredeemable smart-ass and his later records and poems were gone over with a fine-toothed comb and scissors. In the future, Chico had to write and record under a pseudonym in order to get his material past the government.

At the same time Chico published "Apesar de Você", a 27 year old woman was rotting away in prison. A young socialist daughter of Bulgarian immigrants, Dilma Rousseff had joined the nascent revolutionary movement against the dictatorship and, together with her comrade Carlos Minc, had allegedly stolen a safety deposit box containing 2.5 million dollars belonging to the ex-governer of São Paulo, Ademar de Barros, reputably one of the most corrupt men in modern Brazilian history. Dilma was caught in an anti-guerrilla round-up in 1970 and was taken to the headquarters of Operation Bandeirante, the military government's political police facility. There she was tortured for 22 days. Her tormentors employed beatings, electric shocks and most likely sexual abuse.

Dilma Rousseff's mug shot in 1970, taken by the São Paulo political police
on occasion of her arrest and before she endured 22 days of torture.
In the very unlikely event that Dilma heard Chico's song while she was in jail, the future it proposed could have only seemed to be a very cruel dream, the kind of thing a drug-addled hippy would come up with, perhaps.
On Sunday, October 31st 2010, Dilma Rousseff was elected President of the Federal Republic of Brazil, on the Workers' Party ticket. She will be sworn in as our 36th president in early 2011, Brazil's first female president and, according to some, the most powerful woman in the world. Her old revolutionary comrade Carlos Minc, a leading light of the Brazilian Green Party, is currently our Minister of the Environment and likely to retain that position.

Dilma Rousseff, 36th President of Brasil.
So you see, there really is a future. In spite of them.
Chico Buarque de Holanda (1970)
Today, it's you who rule
What you say goes
No talking back
Today, my people talk in low voices
With lowered heads
You who invented this state
All this darkness
You invented sin
And forgot to invent forgiveness.

In spite of you
Tomorrow must be another day
I ask myself where are you going to hide
From the enormous euphoria?
How are you going to stop
The rooster who insists on crowing?
New water springing up
And us loving without stopping?

When the time comes
You'll pay me back for all this suffering
I swear it
All this repressed love
These contained cries
This samba in the dark
You, who invented sadness
Have the courtesy to uninvent it
You're going to pay in double
For every tear I shed
In my pain

In spite of you
Tomorrow must be another day
I'm going to pay to see
The garden break out in flowers
Just like you didn't want
You're going to rue
Seeing the sun come up
Without asking your permission
And I'm going to die laughing
And this day is coming
Sooner than you think.

In spite of you
Tomorrow must be another day
You're going to have to see
The morning be born
And spit out poetry
How are you going to explain yourself
When the skies suddenly clear
With impunity?
How are you going to muffle
Us singing in chorus right in front of you?

In spite of you
Tomorrow must be another day
You're going to come to a bad end
Etc. and so on

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