Gorbachev in Brazil lived in a climate for talking about Fidel – 08/31/2022 – World

Gorbachev in Brazil lived in a climate for talking about Fidel – 08/31/2022 – World
Gorbachev in Brazil lived in a climate for talking about Fidel – 08/31/2022 – World

Mikhail Gorbachev’s trip to Brazil in 1992, the year after the end of the Soviet Union, had a series of meetings with authorities and was marked by unusual episodes.

In the four days he spent in the country, the Russian, who died on Tuesday (30) at the age of 91, played the bass drum with the drums of a samba school, was called the “trash of history” by protesters, planted a seedling in the Jardim Botanist in Rio de Janeiro —and played an important role in the São Paulo press.

When writing about the lecture that the former Soviet leader gave to professors and students at the Cândido Mendes University in Rio, a reporter for the newspaper O Estado de S. Paulo reported that he had “harshly criticized” Fidel Castro, calling the Cuban “toady and traitor to humanity”. The statement ended up in a headline on the cover of the next day’s newspaper: “For Gorbachev, Cuban president betrays humanity.”

On December 9, Gorbachev had barely set foot in São Paulo, the second destination of his trip, when he addressed a reporter from Estadão who was accompanying his arrival in Congonhas and demanded that the vehicle recant. He threatened to interrupt the column he published monthly in the São Paulo newspaper and also called the Cuban ambassador in Brasilia to put a lid on the eventual diplomatic crisis.

Later that day, in a meeting with directors of some of the main national media outlets at Estadão headquarters, Gorbachev claimed that his speech was distorted and that there was a misunderstanding on the part of the reporter who followed the lecture in Rio.

According to the former president, he was talking about Cuba when a group of militants held up posters accusing him of being a “traitor to humanity” and “doormat for imperialism”. He then read the sentences aloud to the audience and went back to talking about the Caribbean island. “That was about me, it had nothing to do with Fidel,” he said, then praised the Cuban. “He IS a learned politician.”

Estadão retracted itself in the next day’s edition: “Gorbachev denies criticism of Fidel Castro.” In the body of the text, the newspaper attributed the wrong information to an error by the reporter who had followed the event in Rio.

The event at the State Headquarters was attended by Julio de Mesquita Neto, then director in charge of the publication, from the publisher of Sheet, Octavio Frias de Oliveira, and Herbert Levy (Gazeta Mercantil), Luiz Fernando Furquim (Grupo Abril), Domingo Alzugaray (Editora Três), Jayme Sirotsky (RBS), Roberto Muylaert (Fundação Padre Anchieta) and João Saad (Rede Bandeirantes) . It was one of many meetings on Gorbachev’s busy schedule.

In the capital of São Paulo, he faced opposition similar to that shown by Rio activists. PC do B and MR-8 — the group behind the kidnapping of US ambassador Charles Elbrick in 1969 — attended an event he participated in at the Latin America Memorial, displaying posters that also accused the Russian of treason.

Gorbachev, who had tried to dialogue with the protesters in Rio, repeated that in a democracy everyone was free to express their opinions — a phrase that won him applause. During his time in the country, he also praised the performance of the press in the impeachment process of Fernando Collor de Mello.

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The most curious anecdotes of Gorbachev’s trip to Brazil, however, concern his passage through Rio de Janeiro.

According to reports from Sheet at the time, he won a berimbau and played bass drum with the Unidos da Viradouro drums, kissing the samba school’s flag. He visited the Rocinha favela, where he spoke to the population with the help of an interpreter and was recognized by passersby because of the sign he wore on his head. In addition, he planted a seedling of peroba-rosa in the Botanical Garden, where he was guided by his wife, Raíssa Gorbachova.

Raíssa also starred in remarkable moments. When shopping in Copacabana, she was judged by passersby, who said they did not understand why the former first lady of the Soviet Union had chosen to shop at two popular shoe stores instead of spending her converted rubles on cruises at the chic RioSul mall.

At the end of the afternoon, in a supermarket in Largo do Machado, where she was buying packets of coffee to give as a souvenir to friends, she was mistaken for a Sunab (National Supply Superintendence) inspector by a group of elderly women. “That’s right, look at the fact that prices here go up almost every day,” said one of them.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Gorbachev Brazil lived climate talking Fidel World

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