The first, and most important, was the mobilization of the Brazilian people. Ostensibly, on the streets, in Rio Grande do Sul, in repressed demonstrations throughout the country, as in Rio de Janeiro, by Carlos Lacerda, and the other governors, but, above all, everyone listening to Brizola on the radio, in the Legality Chain , and in the conversations that spread across the country and reached the barracks. For there was an issue that concerned a good part of the Brazilian people: the people had voted for Vice João Goulart (at the time they voted for vice separate from the vote for the President) and they wanted respect for their vote with the inauguration of João Goulart. People filled the square in front of the Palace, and there they stayed for days and nights. He didn’t budge, even when the Air Force threatened to bomb the Palace. There were the Brazilian people.
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When Brizola distributed weapons to the people (he requested the entire production of the weapons industries in Rio Grande do Sul, where Taurus, the largest of them, was located) – he gave a revolver and two boxes of bullets and asked whoever had it, to bring their weapon – a unique situation was created in our history: the Brazilian people were armed for a fight, the gauchos represented the Brazilian people. Not that it produced significant military effects, but that it had an unequaled symbolic effect. Army officers soon concluded, especially in Rio Grande do Sul and other units, that they could not fight the Brazilian people.
Another issue was the division that operated in the Armed Forces, especially in the Army. When he learned of Jânio Quadros’ resignation, Brizola believed, as is generally believed, that it was the President’s overthrow. She tried to talk to him in Cumbicas, an air base in São Paulo. He managed to speak with his press advisor, the famous journalist Carlos Castelo Branco. Brizola asked Janio to go to Rio Grande and from there, resist. He received the answer that this was not the case, that he had actually resigned, he was grateful.
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Brizola began to make contacts in view of the new situation. Rumors were already circulating that the Armed Forces would not allow the inauguration of Jango, who was in China on an official visit. It is said that Jânio chose this circumstance so as not to have immediate possession of the Viceroy and to allow time for a manifestation to arise for his return. Brizola spoke with Marshal Lott, the Minister of War who guaranteed the inauguration of Juscelino and Jango, and who had lost the election to Jânio. Lott advised Brizola to seek out some unit commanding generals in the RGS, such as Peri Beviláqua, Oromar Osório, and others. Brizola tried to speak to the military ministers themselves, but was not answered. He tried other generals. He managed to speak with Costa e Silva, the Army commander in Recife, who was from Rio Grande do Sul. He asked the General to consider with the Ministers to comply with the Constitution. Costa e Silva refuted that he would only comply with the Minister’s orders. Brizola insisted, Costa e Silva replied sharply: Governor, I don’t just call the Minister. Brizola gave him back: “your general coupist, fdp”, and slammed the phone down.
Article | Campaign for legality: an episode of struggle to defend the Constitution and democracy
Army officers in the RGS, especially unit commanders, came together and pressured the command to rebel and put itself in possession of Jango. Commander Machado Lopes went to the Palace and joined Brizola and assumed the military command of Legalidade.
Several officials across the country were expressing their legalist positions. Groups of sergeants in many places were organized for Legality. General Cordeiro de Farias was named the new Army Commander in Porto Alegre. He couldn’t muster the strength to get there.
The other question that arises, which many consider to be central, was the radio system that operated in a chain and which was called the Chain of Legality. The day after his resignation, the Farroupilha and Gaúcha radio stations broadcast statements by Brizola and Marshal Lott’s manifesto for the inauguration of Jango. The Minister of the Army, then called the Ministry of War, ordered the closure of these radios. THE Radio Guaíba did not publish anything and stayed on the air, working. On the 27th, in the morning, Brizola decreed the requisition of the Radio Guaíba and ordered the Military Brigade to bring all the equipment to the Palace and set up the radio in the basement of the Palace. Contacts were made with other stations throughout the country and the Legality Network was formed to transmit to the Brazilian people the speeches of Brizola, who listened to him especially at night and into the early morning, in long speeches. Brizola touched the conscience of the Brazilian people.
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Another issue to remember: the Brizoletas. The Federal Government, through Banco do Brasil and Caixa Econômica, withdrew all the money, the circulating means of the various banks in the state. In order to have money and to work the circulating medium, so that the economy does not stop and people do not have needs, Brizola determined the issuance of state government bonds with a determined value, corresponding to the values of the Cruzeiro, currency of the time, guaranteed by the State Treasury. They became known as Brizoletas and were accepted in several places.
Tancredo Neves was assigned to go talk to Jango in Montevideo and bring him the parliamentary proposal. He and Deputies Hugo Faria and Almino Afonso, PTB leader and contrary. When Almino arrived at the airport at the appointed time, Tancredo had already left with Hugo Faria half an hour earlier. Tancredo was supposed to stop in Porto Alegre to talk to Brizola. The plane was about to descend, Tancredo looks at the environment and orders it not to descend and go straight to Montevideo. Brizola confessed later: he was going to take Tancredo to the Palace to await Jango’s arrival and only talk to Jango in Porto Alegre and together with Brizola. Tancredo’s shrewdness and sensitivity prevented him from being held back.
And, thus, the figure of a national hero emerged: Leonel Brizola. Brizola had already been recognized: agrarian reform, schools, more than 6,000, expropriation of electricity and telephone companies, the powerful ITT. President Kennedy had already stated in an interview that Leonel Brizola was a Brazilian politician who was not a friend of the United States. Brizola had had a long conversation with Che Guevara at the Montevideo conference, as a member of the Brazilian delegation, nominated by Jânio.
But the Legality Rebellion was another story. the great american newspaper The New York Times he stated that, given the dimensions of Brazil, with the Rebellion of Legality the Cuban Revolution would look like a barfight.
The heroic figure of Leonel Brizola appeared.
*Vivaldo Barbosa was Secretary of Justice in the Brizola government in the State of Rio de Janeiro
** This is an opinion piece. The author’s vision does not necessarily express the editorial line of the newspaper Brasil de Fato.
Edition: Vivian Virissimo