Wednesday, April 01, 2009

The Worst April Fools Day Trick? How about a 21-year-dictatorship

Today marks forty-five years to the day since Brazilians awoke to discover that the military had overthrown constitutionally-legitimate president Joao Goulart. Although the military moved on March 31st, the coup was only successful on April 1st; however, the military, aware of the connotations of an April 1st coup even in Brazil, would always refer to the "revolution of March 31st". Although some workers, politicians from the left, and students tried to resist the dictatorship and opposed it from the start, the military's coup saw broad support from most politicians and many civilians who felt the country was headed towards "chaos" and "communism," and who supposed that, as in previous cases of military intervention, civilian rule would return once the situation was normalized. They couldn't realize at the time how wrong they were, as the military would go on to last another 21 years, and by the end, almost all of society was against the military in any function, a sentiment that still exists to some extent today. But at the time, the Brazilian population was jubilant and openly received what would become a government that murdered hundreds, tortured thousands, and created disruptions in the political institutions and processes in Brazil that persist even today, in what was unquestionably one of the most sinister April Fools' Day "tricks" of all time.