Sunday, August 24, 2008

Getúlio Vargas

24 August 1954
Río de Janeiro


He wants to erase the memory of his own dictatorship, the sinister old time of police, and in his last years he governs Brazil as no one ever has.

He puts himself on the side of wages, not profits. At once, businessmen declare war.

So that Brazil shall cease to be a sieve, he stops the hemorrhage of wealth. At once, foreign capital begins sabotage.

He regains control of oil and energy, which are national sovereignty as much as or more than the flag and the anthem. At once, monopolies, offended, retaliate with a ferocious offensive.

He defends the price of coffee without, as was the custom, burning half the harvest at the stake. At once, the United States cuts its purchases by half.

In Brazil, journalists and politicians of all regions and persuasions add their voices to the chorus of outrage.

Getúlio Vargas has governed on his feet. Forced to go down on his knees, he chooses the dignity of death. He picks up his revolver, aims it at his own heart, and fires.

The text above is a translation of an excerpt from Eduardo Galeano, El siglo del viento (Siglo XXI, 2000), pp. 188-189. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.

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