8/14/2005

War of the colors - How an unpopular President got impeached by citizens wearing black

After winning election by a large margin of the popular vote Brazilian President Fernando Collor got plagued by innumerous investigations of corruption among his staff, family (wife, brother) and close friends. Collor resigned in December of 1992, before being impeached by Congress. This is a recollection of the "War of the colors", an event that marked the end of his public support. The event made it clear to any would be supporter of Collor that he / she would be committing political suicide if he backed Collor. His popularity had fallen so much that even the nepotism infested corrupt Senate voted him out.

There are very few articles about this "War of the Colors", even on the Brazilian press. I found no article in English, so here is my annotated translation of "Sao Paulo Page" article about it. You can use Altavista to translate but it is better if you cut and paste the last paragraphs starting on the red subtitle (Tarja preta na primeira página ) and ending before the red subtitle (Leia mais:)

Black band on the front page

(On August of 1992) In an improvised speech, Collor tried to face the tide of denunciations with appeals to the public to march on his behalf [arrogant and full of hubris Collor didn't notice that the voters who gave him majority 2 years before were fed up with his mismanagement -- law]. (on August 13) speaking before 2,000 taxi drivers, that had been to the [Brazilian White House] to thank the concession of subsidies, he asked his supporters to dress using the Brazilian flag colors (green and yellow) in the following Sunday, to demonstrate its support to the president.

The speech of the president was played in nighttime television, in an ad from the federal government. On the following friday, publishers of the Sao Paulo Page, [which had always been a thorn on the President's side] decided to place a black band on next day's paper Front page, to suggest the use of the black, against the green-and-yellow requested by the president. A color that came to be used on Sunday by students marching for the impeachment of Collor.

In the Sunday of the intended green/yellow manifestation of support for the President there were marches in almost all the state capitals and larger cities. In all the marches, staring with the one on the Ibirapuera park, in São Paulo, black was the dominant color.

[The entire country dressed in black, symbolizing their mourning for what Collor had done to Brazil. Another article mentions that "green and yellow was only available at the President's vacation house" where Collor loyalists were able to assemble 300 people to show their support for the President. The stark contrast between millions in black and 300 in green/yellow sealed Collor's fate. It showed how weak was the President's support in such a way that even the manipulated polls and the rose colored glasses of pro-government Senators could not ignore. ]

On September 29 . by 441 votes against 38, the House authorized the Senate to open impeachment proceedings. On October 2nd Collor was temporarily removed from the Presidency to await the proceedings. That happened only a month after the "War of the colors" the biggest public rally in the history of Brazil. On 29 of December, in the imminence of being considered guilty by the Senate and definitively removed from office, Fernando Collor resigned.

Folha Online - Folha 80 anos - Tempos Cruciais

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