Title: Offering ‘Beer, Meat and Oppression,’ A Carnival Group Wants To Celebrate Brazil's Military Dictatorship
Author: Liam Anderson
Date: Wed, 24 Jan 2018 15:48:08 -0500
Podcast Download URL: https://pt.globalvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/convite-foi-publicado-no-facebook-na-pagina-do-grupo-direita-sao-paulo-400x300.jpg
The cover photo for the piece “Block of the DOPS Basement” shows the colonel
Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, the only commander from the dictatorship
sentenced by the Brazilian courts for crimes of torture. Photo: Shared/
A group of carnival organizers intends to celebrate what is literally and
figuratively one of the darkest places of Brazil’s recent history: the
basements of the Department of Political and Social Order (DOPS), where
hundreds of people were tortured during the military dictatorship of the late
DOPS was the main repressive agency of Brazil’s military junta, which took
power after the 1964 coup d’état, which was supported by conservative sectors
of society and the US Department of State. The coup brought the ouster of
President João Goulart, seen at the time as sympathetic to communism.
According to the country's truth commission, at least 1,800 people were
tortured at the hands of DOPS, with most of them having been suspected of
harboring communist ideas or sympathies.
The dictatorship lasted until 1985 and was characterized by press
censorship, repression of opposition demonstrations, systematic torture,
illegal prisons, and disappearances. According to the National Truth Commission
, instituted by the federal government in 2011 to investigate human rights
violations committed by the state in this period, 191 people were assassinated
and 243 disappeared. The final report stresses that the numbers could be
higher, as these count only the confirmed cases.
With the commission only six years in the past, the “Porão do DOPS” carnival
block (the term “block” refers to a group leading a carnival section) sent
shock waves around the country when an invitation to the event appeared on
Illustrated with a photo of Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, the only
military officer sentenced by Brazilian courts for committing acts of torture
during the dictatorship, the event calls itself “Brazil’s biggest
anti-communist block”, taking advantage of the double meaning of the word
“block”. The invitation promises “beer, oppression, meat, oppression and
oppressive carnival songs” for those who participate.
The event was created by a page named “Right-wing São Paulo”, which last year
led protests in São Paulo against the visit of American feminist philosopher
Judith Butler. The demonstrators accused Butler of being the “biggest
propagator of gender ideology” and even burned a doll with a photo of
Butler’s face while shouting “burn the witch” in front of the venue where she
gave a lecture.
On 16 January, the Public Ministry of São Paulo opened an investigation
against the “Porão do DOPS” organizers. According to the prosecutors, the group
is “insulting the rights to truth and memory” and “promoting apology for the
crime of torture”. Prosecutors asked the police to investigate the latter,
which is punishable under Brazilian law by up to six months in prison.
In a note shared on Facebook, the organizers asserted that “they will not
back down if faced with ideological proselytism”. The also suggested that the
prosecutors should “take advantage of the rest of the holidays to hang out in
The block is so far only a Facebook event, as it is not featured in the
official program of São Paulo’s carnival. The owner of the restaurant where the
gathering would have taken place changed their mind following the fallout
from the case. According to the organizers, a new venue will be made known only
via email to those who signed up and paid the entrance fee (R $10) beforehand.
The political spectrum of carnival
The recent strengthening of right-wing movements in Brazil has triggered
intense disputes about public memory of the military dictatorship.
Since the 2013 protests — which unleashed a complex chain of events that
preceded the impeachment of then-president Dilma Rousseff in 2016 – groups
have been taking to the streets and social networks to demonstrate their
support for the former regime and, on occasion, call for the military to return
The politician Jair Bolsonaro, pre-candidate for president in 2018, is one of
the most notorious supporters of this agenda, having praised the colonel
Ustra while he voted for Rousseff’s impeachment. Rousseff was arrested by
the regime in 1970, when she was a political activist who opposed the regime,
and was tortured while in jail.
2015 Soviet Block parade at São Paulo carnival. By Mark Hillary via Flickr
The organizers of the DOPS Basement carnival block assert that the initiative
is a response to the already established “Soviet Block”, which has paraded
since 2013 referencing socialism and bearing a name which plays on the
geopolitical term [“bloc”]. In five years, the block went from an improvised
gathering of left-wing friends gathered around a shopping trolley to a parade
with around 20,000 people and a float.
As was to be expected, a prolific discussion was sparked online about the two
blocks. Commenters questioned the validity of equating the two regimes and
brought up the possibly satirical and self-deprecating wording of the “Soviet
Block”. On Brazilian social media it is common for right-wingers to call
left-wingers “communists” pejoratively, or to tell them to “go to Cuba”, a
catchphrase enthusiastically adopted in the Soviet Block’s songs.
Existe uma diferença entre o bloco soviético se chamar “bloco soviético” e
não “bloco do gulag” que a galera do “bloco porão do dops” claramente não
captou quando inventou esse nome
— Gustavo Pizzo (@gugtavas) January 10, 2018
There is a difference between the soviet block calling themselves “soviet
block” and not “gulag block” that the people of the “dops basement block”
clearly did not catch when they invented this name.
Desculpa Gustavo, mas você só deixou mais claro o eufemismo usado. Pra mim,
me permita discordar, não muda em nada. Se fosse “Bloco da Ditadura” (não
exaltando diretamente a tortura) e nele todos usassem camisas com ratos em
barris ou fotos de fuzilamento, poderia então?
— Fábio (@figueiraFABIO) January 10, 2018
[Fábio]: Sorry Gustavo, but you only made clearer the euphemism they used.
For me, allow me to disagree, it does not change anything. If it was
“Dictatorship Block” (not directly glorifying torture) and for that they all
wore shirts with rats in barrels or photos of shootings, then would they be
É, pra mim a questão é se estão realmente comemorando a URSS ou o gulag ou só
usando de forma irônica, brincando com algo que é muitas vezes imputado à
— Joel Pinheiro (@JoelPinheiro85) January 11, 2018
It is, for me the question is if they are really commemorating the USSR or
the gulags or only using it ironically, joking with something that is often
imputed to the left.
In December, the Soviet Block announced that it would not participate in the
São Paulo carnival due to bureaucratic issues faced at the city hall.
Written by Luiza Saturnino BragaTranslated by Liam Anderson · · View
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