So Near and Yet So Far: Nationalism and Identity among the Brazilian Exiles in Chile

Monday, January 5, 2015: 9:10 AM
Liberty Suite 5 (Sheraton New York)
Mila Burns, City University of New York, Graduate Center
Along with the deafening noise of explosions at the Palácio de la Moneda, the acid smell of death brought Fernando Gabeira to the memory of defeat. On September 11, 1973, walking the streets of Santiago, he was not himself anymore. He was Diogo, a Portuguese citizen and naturalized Ecuadorian. At least it is what his false passport attested to, in case a carabineiro, a Chilean police officer, asked. Gabeira left Brazil in 1970, after Brazilian authorities decided to release him from prison. He was one of the “Group of 40,” the 40 political prisoners released as part of the negotiation to free the kidnapped German Ambassador Ehrenfried von Holleben. A few months earlier, Gabeira had been arrested for his participation in the kidnapping of American Ambassador Charles Elbrick, in 1969.
This paper will look at questions of identity and nationalism among the Brazilian exiles of the Group of 40. After facing the defeat of Movimento Revolucionário 8 de Outubro [Revolutionary Movement October 8th], or MR-8, and moving to Salvador Allende’s Chile they witnessed failure one more time with the September 11 coup d’état. Prevented of enjoying their Brazilian citizenship and expelled of Chile a few years later, they saw the hope of a leftist revolution die along with the Chilean Path to Socialism. A collection of testimonies, recently declassified official documents of the Brazilian government, and secondary sources, this work will look at this group of central figures in the two countries and their role in the resistance to the two military dictatorships. Panel discussion