Plínio Salgado, the integralist chief, speaks to followers in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Public and Historical Archive of Rio Claro

They began to be called “green chickens” because of the color of their shirt and the speed with which they dispersed from a confrontation with members of the Anti-Fascist Front in Praça da Sé, in São Paulo, in October 1934. They were followers of Plínio Plínio Salgado, creator of the organization inspired by Italian fascism, the Brazilian Integralist Action. The conflict, known as the Flight of the Green Chickens, left a trail of blood. Six civil guards and law student Décio Pinto de Oliveira, from the Communist Youth, died. It is not, therefore, the first time that the extreme right has haunted Brazil.

The legacy of the far right

At that time, the country had 40 million inhabitants. An estimated one million joined the ranks of Integralism, under the motto “God, Fatherland and Family.” They appropriated national symbols, such as the green and yellow flag. In addition, the inscription of sigma, a Greek letter that represents soma, on another flag and on the left sleeve of the green shirt. The integralist greeting referred to the growing fascist movement in Europe: with the right arm raised and the hand outstretched, they shouted the expression Anuaê! From the Tupi, “You are a brother!”

Launched two years before the Praça da Sé conflict, the movement gained strong supporters, such as the jurist Miguel Reale. His son, Miguel Reale Júnior, was one of the authors of Dilma Rousseff's impeachment request. Eight decades ago, the family already circulated around the powerful. The plan of the head of the Integralists was to be president of the Republic and succeed Getúlio Vargas at Palácio do Catete, in Rio de Janeiro. On campaign, he defended nationalism, corporatism and the fight against social organizations based on socialism.

Candidate for the elections scheduled for 1938, Plínio Salgado learned behind the scenes of politics that Getúlio was preparing a coup to remain in power. With an eye on a ministerial post in the future government, he promoted a parade of thousands of integralists in front of the Catete Palace. The intention was to demonstrate strength and support for the president. From a window on the 2nd floor of the palace, Getúlio distributed smiles and waves, on November 1, 1937. Nine days later, he decreed the Estado Novo and made integralism illegal. Another six months and an integralist armed command attacked the palace, with the intention of deposing Getúlio by force. Did not work. Plínio Salgado spent some time in hiding and then went into exile in Portugal. On that occasion, fascism was stopped by the Estado Novo coup. Can now be stopped at the polls.


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