*By Helena Wolfenson
1968 was the year of the thunderous student revolts. A wave of cries for freedom swept across the planet, with the same synchronicity that startled him. His way of being, of existing and of melting into the air was unique; however, as Caetano Veloso says in a statement to journalist Zuenir Ventura: “For it to happen again, it would have to be very different”. In Paris, the movement broke out because the moralizing bureaucracy of the University of Nanterre banned boys from entering the women's dormitory. But the underlying reasons that led to the juvenile explosions all over the world are still studied and explained from different points of view.
In the post-war period, the population density of Western Europe and the United States tripled. The phenomenon of this population explosion called the baby boom created, at the turn of the 1960s to 1970s, a youth whose deep moral and cultural dissatisfaction came to the fore through their massive participation in the newborn uprising movements. The impression that the status quo, hypocritically, seemed to be evolving from strength to strength began to fade. The GDP grew, the purchasing power too, and this generation, the so-called baby boomers, was in the universities, a youth three times bigger than the previous one, richer, but more dissatisfied, discontented and restless.
In 67 Guevara died, in 68 Luther King and Bobby Kennedy
It was wartime in Vietnam, the first televised conflict that generated deep anguish among civilians, especially young people and artists. Political activists spread around the world, there was a planetary awareness of the injustice of war and its battlefields. At the same time, right-wing conservatism struggled against social and collective actions. In late 1967 there was the assassination of Che Guevara, then in April 1968 Martin Luther King, the charismatic leader of the black cause, was killed. Months have passed, and the then Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States, Robert Kennedy, had the same fate as his older brother, former President John Kennedy, assassinated a few years earlier, and Republican Nixon was re-elected. At the end of the year, man reached the moon.
In sports, it was the year of the Olympics in Mexico, boycotted in June and which only took place in October. Feminist flags were raised everywhere. In France, youthful imagination sought to seize power. Jimi Hendrix, Beatles, Bob Dylan, pop art, tropicália… the arts were renewed, politically engaged. This was the so-called year zero of globalization, the first time that a cord was glimpsed that would connect South and North, East and West, not for geographical or physical reasons, but for human and, above all, young people.
Coming from all corners of the planet, countries with different governments and cultures found themselves under a common denominator. These were Cold War times, moralism, the strict and bureaucratic norms of the divided world had agonizing effects on the youth of that cycle of economic prosperity. The month of May 1968 was established as a symbol of an era, a struggle essentially against authority, paternal authority in particular, and the family model in force until then. His legacy allowed the birth of thousands of new channels of expression in the arts, new forms of social contestation and new types of human relationships.
As in the great centers, some Latin American countries were taken by the intoxicating effervescence of 1968, also fateful for us Brazilians. In December, the AI-5 was enacted, which buried once and for all the little that still remained of democratic activity in the country, throwing us into a period of darkness, persecution and censorship for almost two decades. A little before that, feeling the liberating winds of Europe, Rio de Janeiro began to demonstrate great mass articulations, through street demonstrations.
The city even stopped for a few days, as in the legendary Walk of the 100 Mil. The impression was that of a collective involved in a single cause, which escaped the stereotype of football and Carnival. However, those who were really inside this movement were a minority – active, noisy, who made a fuss and created non-stop. Some of its representatives, those who resisted arrest, torture, exile and time, are today, for the most part, great names in national culture, politics and academia.
From emos to neo-hippies it's the same: lack of ideology
Military dictatorships in Latin America were built in the name of freedom and against communism. Their first pretext was to maintain security. To protect societies from the feared communism, any form of opposition, from the most naive to the most forceful, was prevented. A latent and repressed indignation was spreading in various fields of society.
The youth had no space for political expression, culture found its channels closed by the bureaucratic and corporatist system of the left and the right. Some say that the world has freed itself from rigid norms and that youth has come to be recognized and heard. Others believe that his legacy generated a depoliticization in the following generations. The long-awaited and innovative forms of expression have already been absorbed by the system. Society has not freed itself from the anguish and malaise of that time. There was a scrapping of teaching. Today's thousands of teen groups that seek their identity in merchandise, from emos to neo-hippies, all suffer from the same emptiness: a lack of ideology.
Seeing this moment through people and not documents was a choice. Young people back then, who didn't believe in anyone over 30, are now over 60. If this was the period in human history in which youth found their place, participated and absorbed changes that were still unfolding, how could those who contributed to the story are today? What do you think? How do you see today's youth? How did they build their lives from this outburst?
Messing with memory, penetrating this history was our quest when doing this report. We interviewed five characters who, in different ways, in different places, absorbed the force of this energy in 1968. People who are now between 60 and 70 years old and at the time were indignant with a society that they considered unfair and hypocritical, and that , seen from that point of view, remains so. Memory and history are confused in the minds of these experienced adults. Seeing history from subjective perspectives, trying to see the world the way it was seen by them and, finally, what was left of that month, year or decade was what we found in the reports made by our protagonists.
Paris, May, 1968, Ladislau Dowbor, a 27-year-old economics student at the Lausanne School in Switzerland, spent a few days in the “City of Light” to visit friends. Days that turned into months, such was the effervescence of the Parisian streets. His report is the look of someone who had the privilege of witnessing the strength of the movement there, in its historic moment. The scope and consequences of this movement were unexpected, and France in particular was an important trigger in the whole process. “Somebody needs to set the fuse on fire, and that happens in Paris in the form of student demonstrations,” as Dowbor testified.
Some protest movements were underway in relation to education, others in relation to the Vietnam War. The decolonization process of some regions of Africa was also underway. The understanding of the unjust and profound interconnection of First and Third World economies, one as a cause of the other, had begun. The left also sought a renewal in its channels of expression and an alternative that would escape the old molds of bureaucratic and union party politics. This was the background of the situation experienced by university youth, not only in France, but also in Italy and Germany. American youth, on the other hand, lived with the Vietnam War. “It was like throwing a stone into a lake and watching the waves spread out.”
His car was one of the few that drove in the Latin Quarter.
A young German residing in France, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, was the leader of the French movement. “Daniel the Red”, as he was called by his followers and by all the media (because of his red hair), kept within himself two outstanding characteristics of the 1968 generation and also its legacy: a sharp tongue and a strong fearlessness. in front of the authorities.
The first demonstrations in Parisian universities were very focused on demands from the student sphere, but the French government's response was extreme violence. A conduct that turned out to be a tactical stupidity, as it made the movement grow and take over all the universities in the capital. It was a chain reaction, which also caused other sectors of society to unite against the repression. The shot backfired. “All universities have closed. The police took to the streets, repression set in. For the first time there was a coalition between student and union leaders. There was a general shutdown of the city, public transport did not work, gasoline distributors stopped, schools closed their doors. A movement for national holidays was created and a generalized fear was established in the non-organized layers of the population.”
As Ladislau was studying in Switzerland and had gone to Paris by car, a Citroën Deux Chevaux, with a full tank, at the end of three days of stoppage his was one of the few cars that roamed the streets of the Latin Quarter. The atmosphere was intoxicating, Ladislau could not leave, he began to participate in the many meetings that were organized by blocks. Everyone, because they didn't go to work or university, were on the streets, in the houses, on the corners, meeting, discussing, creating sentences, thinking about dreamy proposals for a different world. Papers and phrases were placed on the walls, everyone participated, writing: “It was as if we discovered that it was legitimate to have feelings that went beyond the organized and disciplined pursuit of some percentages of GDP growth. The movement became extremely wide and the wind of freedom that was blowing was huge, people were happy and creating in the streets”.
The people occupied the streets and squares. The words on the walls became world symbols, they came out of universities, crossed oceans, summoning the power of love, of youth, revealing the hypocrisy of the system and the repressive authorities. “From Paris to Woodstock – it even opened some cracks of light in the dictatorship then in force in Brazil”, concludes the economist. The movement lasted for a few weeks, until, as was to be expected, the police and the army smothered it.
French President Charles De Gaulle joined forces with the then German Prime Minister and once again put the police to repress, but this time in a much more organized and systematic action than the first. They dissolved the movement through selective arrests of student leaders; Daniel Cohn-Bendit was expelled from the country and returned to Germany; a massive television campaign was created, calling workers back to work, threatening them with dismissal.
The feeling that remained in the minds of many of those young people who lived through the French May '68, and in the memory of economist Dowbor in particular, was extremely powerful, because, for a moment, it was possible to perceive what it was like to enjoy life without doors, without bureaucratic barriers, without timetables or formulas. It was a creative pulse for a misguided generation. The legacy of that time is much more of a behavioral order than of the political sphere. For that generation, what was on the table were the striking transformations from a moral and cultural point of view, which reshaped human relationships – between teachers and students, authorities and population, men and women, parents and children, neighbors.
All the libertarian movements, such as sexual, feminist, gay, ecological freedom, the strengthening of the black movement and the expansion of artistic currents such as pop art and tropicalism, among others, surely fed from this rupture. “That was enough for that whole generation that told us: shut up, you have a television, car and refrigerator, what else do you want?”, says Ladislau.
After two months in Brazil, he was arrested as a communist
The 68 generation sought coherence in their actions, they sought to understand the world from a different angle. The authorities imposed on the population a range of orders to be followed to avoid chaos, but when these orders were not followed, what was seen was free creation, harmony, not chaos. As Dowbor says, “We knew where the bad was, but not where the good was. By natural polarization, we supported communism, but it was for an artificial leveling of anti-Americanism”.
In Paris, Ladislau, a Pole born in France, began to have contact with some organizations of the Brazilian left, the country where he grew up and settled, and decided to return to Brazil and fight. “I, who financed my studies by working on international night trains, took advantage of the stops in Paris to participate in the meetings. The option of armed struggle did not seem to me to be a mystery, it was in the air, everyone knew well the Vietnamese resistance, the Cuban Revolution, the guerrillas in Angola, Mozambique, Bissau… It was part of the options. Personally, I didn't think I was capable of defining much, due to my age and lack of political culture, and when the people I lived with in Paris, with another level of experience, called me, I packed my bags and left.”
After two months in Brazil he was arrested, considered a terrorist and a communist. After a week he was out, it was before AI-5. “In a way, the tortures themselves justified our armed struggle, just as the police and the military would justify torture with the fact that we are armed. In the processes of polarization, the culprit is always the other”, argues the former guerrilla.
After 1968, Ladislau joined the underground left-wing Vanguarda Popular Revoluconária (VPR) and Vanguarda Armada Revolucionaria (VAR-Palmares). He was arrested, tortured and exiled. Today he is a professor at the postgraduate department of the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC / SP), in the areas of economics and administration.
First the dogs arrive, then the cats, everyone welcoming them to “Lar Dulce Lar”, as she likes to call her home in Cunha, in Serra do Mar, between the beach and the countryside, between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, between Ubatuba and Parati. With the smell of wood, books, magazines, records, ceramics and lots of life scattered everywhere. The spacious and cozy house was built by Dulce Maia de Souza three years ago, after she moved from a place in the same region. Just a walk in the garden and you can already see that the lady with the deep eyes and all white hair has one vice: the trees, plants and flowers.
Since moving to this house in Cunha, he has planted more than 6 trees on and off his land. “When I returned to Brazil, after the years of exile, I moved to Floripa, because I wanted to live close to the beach.” There he managed to rebuild his post-exile life, earning some money by selling for $300 the land he had bought for just a few thousand. “Something is very wrong in this country, isn't it?” asks Dulce, who looked for another direction after real estate speculation settled in Lagoa da Conceição, in Florianópolis, capital of Santa Catarina.
She arrived in Cunha exactly 15 years ago, and never left. Known to everyone in the city, today the former guerrilla of the Vanguarda Popular Revolucionaria (VPR) is the director of an NGO for projects to protect the Brazilian flora and fauna in Serra da Bocaina, Econsenso, and founder of another in the small town where she lives.
Atheist by conviction, she says her religion is solidarity
At 70 years old, she doesn't stop, she goes up and down stairs, goes to and from the city in her preserved black jeep, is always traveling for work, receives friends and takes care of the house where she lives with one of her two adopted children, the oldest young, Isaiah, 20 years old. Dulce says that the torture left her with a bad head and, therefore, she prefers to surround herself with people, with life, “so as not to think too much about her scars”. Politics is present even in their veins, roots and gray hairs.
An atheist by conviction, Dulce Maia says that her religion is solidarity. Its saints are Che Guevara, Ho Chi Minh (leader and hero of the anti-American struggle in former North Vietnam) and Amílcar Cabral (leader of the movement that overthrew Portuguese colonialism in Guinea-Bissau and Cape Verde). In 1966, Judith – the code name by which she identified herself among her companions in the clandestine struggle – joined the urban guerrilla group VPR, a Brazilian ultra-left organization that, like many others at the time of the dictatorship, believed in change based on armed struggle. Formed by students, workers and ex-military members who made up the recently deposed João Goulart government, the organization was led by Carlos Lamarca, the former army captain killed years later by the repression.
At the same time, still like Dulce, she wandered between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro while producing shows and cultural encounters, mainly at Teatro Maria Della Costa. “We worked as a cooperative, each one helped with what they knew and could, Ricardo Ohtake (now director of Instituto Tomie Ohtake) made the posters, Gil, Vandré and Chico Buarque played and sang to make the ticket sales of the shows was reversed to keep many of our companions underground.”
A close friend of the plastic artist Zé Roberto Aguilar and the singer-songwriter Jorge Mautner, she was called by her friends the “priestess do kaos”, a kind of joke with the book and pseudo-movement that Mautner had inaugurated at the time. “We were from a brotherhood, so to speak.” The guerrilla was a natural path for her, perhaps because of her upbringing, coming from a politicized, humanist and libertarian family, socialist parents - her mother had been imprisoned during the Vargas dictatorship -, or because of the situation itself, the environment in which who lived, as she herself points out. “I was never afraid to take up arms, because there was so much trust, love and belief in the authenticity of this fight. I think if we hadn't done that, there would have been a void in our country's history compared to the rest of the world.”
made point in The Red Light Bandit like a marching machine
In 1968 she was divided between Rio and São Paulo. Always active, involved with the work of the playwright Zé Celso Martinez Corrêa and the entire group of Teatro Oficina, Dulce was still a VPR guerrilla, but this fact was not public information, as she followed the strict safety rules of the militant organizations.
Not everyone knew Judith. To most, she was just Dulce. A 30-year-old woman, beautiful and elegant. No one would suspect that she carried a gun in her purse. “This was a year full of armed struggle actions. But it was also the year of Roda Viva (play written by Chico Buarque and produced by her, with direction by Zé Celso and scenery and costumes made by plastic artist and set designer Flávio Império). It was the year of the inauguration of the Masp headquarters on Avenida Paulista, of the meetings with comrades in struggle at the Casa de Vidro da Lina (the architect who designed the Masp, Lina Bo Bardi), in Morumbi. It was the premiere of the film's inaugural marginal cinema, The Red Light Bandit, by filmmaker Rogério Sganzerla, in which I even made a cameo as a marching (as the women who participated in the Family March with God for Freedom became known). Had Caetano with the show Opinion, theatrical productions such as Arena Conta Zumbi e freedom, freedom, and finally Glauber Rocha's revolutionary cinema, with earth in trance, which was a revolutionary milestone for the time.”
It was the year the play The Sailing King, also edited by Oficina, was presented in Florence, Italy, and invited to the Nancy Festival, in France: it was the export of the Tropicalista movement to foreign lands. Exactly in the month of May 1968, Dulce was in Rio de Janeiro and received a call from Zé Celso, a great friend of hers, asking her to come and pick him up at Viracopos Airport. “I had stayed in Brazil because I had to take care of Teatro Oficina.”
Zé Celso was in Paris and watched from the balcony of the building the scene of the filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, with whom he was filming, being beaten by the police. His spontaneous solidarity made him throw objects at the police from the first floor, who responded with a tear gas canister. Zé Celso returned to Brazil with a patch over his eyes, scared and at the same time amazed by the French movement.
Soon after their arrival, Brazilian militants who were in Paris, organized by the movements here, were disembarking and importing the breaths of freedom and contestation that enveloped France at the time. Street actions in Brazil took a similar shape to those in Paris, but with the huge difference that there was a military dictatorship here.
Dulce was arrested in January 1969, a time when she kept (hidden) many people in devices (hides, in the language of clandestine organizations) scattered around the city, transported people with curtains in their cars and blindfolds. She says that on the day of her arrest, she had dismantled some of these devices and was returning to her parents' house in Brooklin, a neighborhood in the capital of São Paulo. It was already midnight when they broke into the house. “My mother was in a panic, she told me it was like seeing my coffin coming out, she came forward and attacked a police officer to try to stop them from taking me.”
It was during the time she was imprisoned, from January 1969 to June 1970, that Dulce Maia lost her mother. Mother Assunção, the director of the prison, called the hearing judge asking for permission for her to go to the funeral. But the request was denied. "I wouldn't run away in such a situation, as these human gestures must be recognized." Dulce was sure that she would not die in the Women's Penitentiary, in Carandiru. "I'm not going to die here, you are all part of a rotten cog, I at least have a cause", she told her tormentors. She resisted as she never imagined she could. She was tortured constantly for five months. “The military couldn't put up with me anymore, they were angry with me for my situation there, for resisting, for being a woman”, reveals Dulce. She was eventually released in exchange for the kidnapped German ambassador in Rio de Janeiro.
The sequels made it difficult for him to return to normal life.
In June 1970, along with other prisoners, she left her cell directly onto a military plane, still handcuffed, and flew to Algeria, a country recently freed from French colonialism. Her hair suddenly turned white after a few torture sessions. She went through horrible things, she unlearned how to speak and write, she had to start her life over in distant places and she was very weak.
After Algeria, he went to Cuba in search of medical treatment. In 1973, he was in Chile when Pinochet overthrew Allende. He then went to Mexico and then to Belgium. There he stayed until April 1975, when he landed in Lisbon, where Salazar's fifty-year dictatorship had fallen. Dulce's last destination before returning to Brazil was Guinea-Bissau, a country that achieved independence from Portuguese colonialism after the fall of Salazar. In 1979, with the Amnesty Law, she was the first exile to return to the country.
After nine years of exile, Dulce arrived still trembling and fragile. The aftermath of torture made it difficult for him to return to everyday life. Although in exile she created very strong bonds with people she knew, dear friends with whom she maintains relations to this day, she also went through hard times. She still has sequelae, but assumes she takes great care of herself. “I am an articulate person, but I am not an articulate person.”
Dulce sees herself as a humanist who fought against a regime of exception, and says: “We contributed a lot to the return of democracy, but today such a movement would make no sense. The fight must continue, but perhaps the current formula is each one in their sector, and can contribute to change, in their daily exercise.”
Today, in addition to taking care of the two socio-environmental preservation and education NGOs, he still reaps the fruits of the difficult but precious period he lived intensely. The good relationship he maintains with some international entities and friends he made during his exile, for example, opened the door for him to be able to send more than ten young people from Cunha to study medicine in Cuba, recognized for the excellence of its courses. At times, like anyone else, she questions the life she has lived. And she remembers the conversation she had with a friend and comrade in the struggle, in Paris, when she wished she had been a Maria from Mooca, who spends the morning washing the sidewalk and then preparing pasta for her huge family. The friend thought about what life would have been like if he had been a bank clerk. But in the end, she admits, "Our lives are exciting to this day."
At 70, he is proud of his past. She is not, and never would be, a comfortable matron. Sister of Carlito and Hugo Maia, two important names in Brazilian journalism and advertising, Dulce has always had communication in her blood and, despite not being a communicologist by profession, she lives to communicate. Owner of an impeccable memory, she carries in her head a tangle of wires capable of connecting everyone to anyone. And anyone to everyone.
When remembering those times of torture, but also of many achievements, creations and strong bonds, she, who would fit into the great profiles of XNUMXth century heroines, who as an independent and fighter woman suffered prejudice and repression, says she doesn't feel a weight in her memory. , because this is a past still present in their memories, relationships and daily conversations. Dulce says she is overly optimistic about the world and human beings. She still dreams of social transformation. In terms of the current political situation, she does not feel committed to any flag, movement or party. "Just because I'm on the left doesn't mean I will blindly support anyone."
For her, the left still resists Manichean, sectarian and moralistic, and the Brazilian people still show themselves to be cowardly, accommodated and strange. “Politics today is promiscuous”, she says, at the same time that she does not advance in her radicalism, always considering that there have been evolutions in terms of democracy both in the FHC administration and in Lula's. “We are neither victims nor heroes of an era. I regret nothing.” Dulce's fight and that of many others may have been carried out with exaggerations and excesses, often inevitable in the face of circumstances, but it was a fight full of passion and commitment.
Architect and designer, Luciano Devià is one of those figures who opened their minds during their youth and discovered a more real world than the one transmitted in the old wooden rooms – semicircular and inclined – of the serious Renaissance universities in his native Italy. He became disillusioned with the structures of society, fought, raised flags, was bearded and hairy, discovered that as an architect he would only be able to produce with some political commitment. He got frustrated with the few changes he had achieved and set off far away. He left Turin, Italy, at the age of 33, in 1975, in search of another life, of being reborn in completely unknown lands.
Except for João Gilberto's songs, Tom Jobim's piano, Oscar Niemeyer's traits and Glauber Rocha's cinematic daring, Brazil, for him, was an illustrious unknown. They were distant, warm lands, considered promising and completely disconnected from his Italian life. “In Brazil I died and I was born again and I found myself completely lost like Dante Alighieri when he found hell.” When he arrived, he had no money in his pocket and began to earn a living with what was, in Italy, his hobby: he became a pianist in São Paulo's nightlife.
The alliance between workers and students was natural
For him, 1968 was the symbolic mark of that search for change and detachment from one's roots. It was the height of the crisis of dissatisfaction against the antiquated structure of Italian university education – Luciano was in the fourth year of the Faculty of Architecture of the Polytechnic of Torino, one of the first schools of architecture built during fascism.
For the young students, that was the year in which they began to face the rigid established structures. These were times of contestation around the world, of a new form of expression. Bob Dylan, Woodstock and Beatles times. But for Luciano Devià, all this was much further away than what happened next door: the workers with excessive workload, exploited right there in his city, at the Fabbrica Italiana di Automobili Torino, Fiat.
The fusion of student indignation with the labor movement was the natural order of things in that industrial city. An attempt was made to fill the void that existed between these two worlds so close and, at the same time, so incommunicable. While Devià and his colleagues began to question the meaning of producing an architecture that did not relate to the social, to the political, to the real, migrants from southern Italy settled in northern cities worked like robots in factories and still were victims of regional prejudices.
These facts were not discussed within the academic environment. “University programs were carefully designed so that there was no time to think about issues like these,” explains Devià. “Until I was 24 I was an alienated person, I had never questioned the importance of politics.” The objections came stinging him and his entire generation. Turin is not a Rome, much less a Paris. Until 1968, the university remained an untouched island in the face of the changes that were taking place in other centers. “We were still going to college wearing a bow tie,” which was a symbol of deep austerity and hierarchy, until that moment, unquestionable.
After so long he remains faithful to those premises
In 1968, the movement to occupy the Italian universities began, and a whole year passed practically without classes, a year of discussions, meetings, meetings, assemblies, in which the students, professors and workers of Turin were mobilized. The power of money, something that the parents of this generation called for, was being questioned in the name of more important things, such as human relationships and love. “There we discovered the harm that money could cause, as Caetano Veloso would say, 'it was the strength of money that raises and destroys beautiful things'.”
Later, in 1969, a study group of which Luciano was a part went through a public tender for the construction of a new psychiatric hospital in the city of Bergamo. In Italy, the role of psychiatric hospitals was beginning to be questioned, and Luciano went straight into this question. “We even opened the doors of psychiatric hospitals and marched through the city, together with the 'crazy', demanding more humane treatment.”
It was the trigger that triggered the awareness in architecture students that they would never have solved the real problem of the mentally ill by proposing a beautiful new hospital. It was necessary to take it as a political problem. “In this period, from the point of view of our human formation, there was a revolution. We opened our heads there in the provincialism of Turin.” Marches, closed classrooms and open minds. Changes were needed to follow. Bow ties were replaced by turtlenecks, a fashion in the European student movement, and questioning the world became part of the academic environment.
“At 24, I experienced the magic of discovering a different and possible world. I learned that things could only be resolved from a political assumption.” However, after the fervor of that outburst wore off, life began to take its old tracks, although some parts have derailed from the antiquated lines.
Student effervescence subsided, some professors previously considered “immortal” left their professorships, the curriculum was adapted in part to student demands, psychiatric policy was rethought and reformulated. Some prejudices were broken, and the power and naivety of this youth were mainly perceived. “Everything was very beautiful and naive, there was the impression that we could really change the world. There was a naivety in thinking that every rich man in Italy was a son of a bitch, and that every guy on the left was a good character.
A 'bravissimo' (very good) carpenter was often not hired because he believed in Mussolini – those extremisms and sectarianism that no longer exist.” Today Luciano is disappointed with the course that many of his college colleagues took in 1968. “Many of the student leaders at that time ended up linked to mafia parties, to corruption. It was a let down.” The cycle continues.
Devià is now 64 years old, works as a designer and architect, settled in São Paulo and, after 40 years, remains faithful to the premises of those rebellious years. He sees the strength that this generation had in his life and in the world, but he also realizes that some of those claims have been misrepresented. The pseudo-freedom that has been established in the modern world has its ills.
Luciano, today as yesterday, does not save ammunition. For him, events like Casa Cor serve as an example of absurd deformation. “It is disgusting for the ostentation in the face of Brazilian reality. It is an economic elite that has nothing to do with the country’s social reality.”
Sexual freedom, divorce, children, studies, theater, vegetarian food, independence. These are some of the changes that took place in the life of the São Paulo therapist Tai Castilho, in a period when she reviewed all her ideals. For her, the indicated paths came in the form of behavioral changes and the absorption of new radical customs for the time.
A girl who came from the interior of São Paulo to live in the big city, she was looking for a straight life, in which things were in order, since inside her own home it was not quite like that. In 1964, she got married, to move out of her parents' house and try to build her ideal life. Her house was a hiding place for books banned by the dictatorship she lived in a traditional marriage and decided to study. She entered a pre-university course in downtown São Paulo, when she came to have more direct contact with student movements.
With a 2-year-old daughter and a newborn son, a doctor husband, Tai began to perceive a different world from her own. Exciting and terrifying at the same time. “It was very common for close people to disappear overnight. Years after studying with a girl, I see papers with her face stamped in every corner, with the words: 'Wanted!'. Teachers from the pre-college course would disappear, never to return”, she says about her first contact with the world of underground and armed struggle.
He joined a group from the Teatro Oficina, started to frequent the youth and theater class environments, the bars on Rua Maria Antônia, but reveals: “At the same time that I wanted to start a family, have a nice and up-to-date home, there was in me a youthful resourcefulness”. Her life as an apprentice actress was short-lived, as it was a hidden reality for her family and her theater colleagues could not imagine how she lived when she crossed the front door. “People who did theater were frowned upon by traditional families” and, backstage and on stage, it was considered rude to be married the way she was. “I was a supporter of the cause, but because I had children, I kept a silent fear in me. In 1970, the third was born, still from the same marriage.”
For all that, the unsuspecting appearance of his house ended up turning it into a hiding place for books forbidden by the dictatorship. “We could not have works by Marx, Engels, Lenin, Che or any other communist author.” After 1968, she entered the faculty of speech therapy and participated in student movements. She was a friend of Vladimir Herzog, one of the martyrs of those dark times, dead in the cellars of the dictatorship. After that, she became a vegetarian, started to wear long skirts, very long hair and her children went to study at the anthroposophical Rudolph Steiner school, of Waldorf pedagogy.
Tai Castilho is from a generation in which people chose to go headlong into political radicalism or into behavioral riots. Detachment from the rules of the system wove a creative and active generation. He ended up living the counterculture and militancy with a generation six years younger than his own.
She ended up living the counterculture and militancy with a generation six years younger than hers. “I wanted to be a left-wing intellectual, an underdog, a scarfless and undocumented, but in 1971 I found myself finishing college with three small children and separated. At the same time that I wanted to take care of motherhood, something fascinating to me, there was the sexual freedom that gave me so much pleasure.”
Tai was never very well accepted in any of the tribes he frequented, because of their dichotomy, their vital contradiction. And he began to distance himself from the partisanship of the movement: “The partisan left dealt very badly with the issue of sexuality and drugs”. With an enlightened look at the past 40 years, the therapist who specializes, not by chance, in families and couples, concludes: “Our demands were carried out through the gaps in the system and giving other colors to the so sectarian and segmented world. left versus right. My generation was very sexually repressed, my mother's is not even talked about. We enjoyed these changes still with a lot of fear – which changed a lot for the following generations. It was our legacy.”
After the separation, while attending college, Tai moved to a small house in Vila Beatriz, then a popular neighborhood in São Paulo, with her children and many new things on her mind. He began to free himself from his permanent dichotomy and began to live in freedom with the children. “At that moment, the ghosts of morals were a little exorcised, the children lived naked in the garden, the neighbors approached, it was a delight.” He broke away from his traditional family ideals and, with that, began to specialize in modern family relationships.
I am a rootless man. I always saw myself as a middle-class northern migrant from a petty-bourgeois family: mother a teacher, father a civil servant, two sisters, all born in Maranhão. At one point I found myself in Rio and then, for 13 years, living in several cities in the south of Minas. The roots loose in the wind. I don't know if this was good or bad for my humanistic training.
Measuring the words made me stop being a northerner and become a miner
Sometimes, lack of commitment to tribes or communities can cause a kind of coldness in relationships. Or lack and dependence. He didn't enter into a conversation without first knowing very well what they were saying, who was talking. Measuring words and gestures made me stop being a northerner and become a typical miner. This favored the friendship that, despite time and distance, I know we still cultivate – friends and I – in our affective memory.
From Barbacena I watched the 1964 coup. The words, by Sartre, in one of the hands and The Bulgarian Pucaro, by Campos de Carvalho, in the other, tried to foresee what would happen after that. The entrance exam for the Faculty of Law of the Universidade do Estado da Guanabara, in 1965, was the passport to my practical initiation into politics, into historical and dialectical materialism, trying to understand what added value was, the struggle of opposites and the inexorable victory of the proletariat over the bourgeoisie.
The days passed full of dreams, utopias, revolutions, Yankee imperialism, soviets, Moscow gold, the Cold War, political theories, armed clashes, police on the streets, torture, prisons, fear, cries of order and disorder, sirens crossing the avenues of downtown. I want to believe that 1968 was the most violent year of all. Quebra-quebra, corpses appearing in the newspapers, students run over by cavalry, Calabouço, a modest student restaurant, becoming a symbol of repression, dictatorship, intolerance and terror. The state had turned into a terrorist. The terrorists in victims. In the midst of this, young people screaming for better schools, down with the dictatorship, long live the Brazilian people, the people in power and other words that appeared here and around the world.
Here, 1968 did not provide a good meeting between students and workers. Brazilian workers rejected long hair, round glasses, stubble. We were communists, agitators, atheists. At the factory doors they threw profanity in our faces. If for the country and for the angry Brazilians, 1968 was the terrible year, for me, January 1971 was the year of horror. Stuck in Santa Teresa, in the company of a friend, inside the house, I disappeared for ten days. I literally disappeared into the basements of the dictatorship.
Electric shocks and swords whizzing over my head
When I managed to be released, I took the path of self-exile and for two years I wandered through a Europe filled with hippies, drugs, sex and rock-and-roll. My dreams didn't die, they just changed. They became somehow more fragile and lonelier. In London, in Paris, in Stockholm, in Lisbon, in Brussels, I saw beautiful human beings pass before my eyes, filthy and with dirty beards, in search of a bath, a bed to rest their bones, a balm for the wounds that weren't just his own, they were from time immemorial.
Then I noticed that people started to isolate themselves. Art is individualized. The realization was that the world had become capitalist forever. We lost the war, we who believed in revolution, in a just and egalitarian society. The political and ideological dictatorship gave way to the dictatorship of money. A faceless, faceless dictatorship, without groups we could fight against. The struggle for survival made me believe that I was more capable of living well than I thought I was.
For a few years I dedicated myself to an alternative, simple life, living in the country, writing for my own delight and navel. I became an outsider, a marginal of good, on the fringes of anything the system could offer. I anxiously awaited the passage of comets that would change the course of things. Which what! Things only got worse.
From a craftsman, an unpublished writer, I became a publicist and a moderately known poet in Minas. I was editorial director of Word Magazine, along with Ziraldo and a group of young and not so young, talented and gigantic souls. In that period when I lived with the terror behind the walls, the electric shocks and the swords whizzing over my head in marches through downtown Rio, I felt the permanent presence of Jean-Paul Sartre, an angel protecting my conscience so that I wouldn't succumb. to self-indulgence. Sartre was and has been my biggest influence.
Since then, my mind has changed little. I tried to get rid of the uselessness of thinking, I loved my children more than myself, I keep loving and spiteful memories of my wife at the time – like all couples in the world – and today, at 60, I fell in love again. With that, I think I've rejuvenated a few years, enough to watch, perhaps, the birth of a new generation, a new man, as Guevara wanted.
Difficult? Yes, it is very difficult, if we take into account the trend in the world and in Brazil. But nothing is in vain and nothing that has happened in the world in the early years of the last 40 years has been in vain. Because 40 years later I can still breathe the freedom of that time, the buzz of a youth and a restless, restless, rebellious generation with a cause. From that time there was the scar that I caress every time the wind of comfort seeks to make me kneel before an unfair and cruel world.
I know I do little to change the world, but I know I refuse to accept a world that has become immune to change. A world that has become mediocre, petty, violently cowardly. A world where heroes are those who come out of nowhere and do well in life: football players, Formula 1 champions, tennis champions. Or those who are shown on TV and become celebrities. And they hurl empty words at the enraptured crowd. This is the world that won. I was from the world that lost.