News

Zuzu Angel, the first Homeland Heroine of Contemporary Brazil

Thursday, June 29, 2017

After the favorable and unanimous votes in the House and Senate, the President sanctioned, on April 12, 2017, the day before the 41st anniversary of Zuzu Angel's death, Bill 4411/16, proposed by Federal Representative Jandira Feghali, to include the stylist in the Book of Homeland Heroes and Heroines.

Zuzu became the sixth woman to enter the Pantheon of the Homeland, and had her name added to the pages of steel. Previously, received this honor: Jovita Feitosa, Army volunteer in the Paraguayan War; Clara Camarão, who fought the Dutch in the Battle of Guararapes, nurse Ana Néri, and the revolutionary women, Anita Garibaldi and Barbara de Alencar. With the addition of Zuzu, a contemporary heroine, in this Book, the ever-prevalent pattern of heroic memory is no longer reserved for facts of the distant past, and will no longer ignore the more recent, referential and exemplary history.

The process through which this homage underwent was full of symbolism. It was approved in the House of Representatives, on March 8th, which is International Women's Day. Zuzu, a fashion innovator in our country, had her own view of Brazilian identity. She was a feminist even before undergoing all her struggles. She was part of the National Women's Council and the Fashion Group in Brazil. She made an international accusation against the Brazilian dictatorship, in her protest dresses. Not only was she revolutionary in sewing, she was also ahead of her time. She crossed the limits. She challenged the powerful, fear, and the convenient indifference on which the bourgeoisie balanced itself. 

Her last decade of life was the most creative and productive. The one in which she stood out professionally, reaped glories and joys, became a fashionable celebrity and "made it in America". It was also a decade of agony and of great suffering, the desperate search for her son who had been a political prisoner, the terrible maternal realization that he had been killed under torture sessions in Airforce facilities.

Despite frequent, veiled and professed harassments and threats, Zuzu continued her courageous denunciation after the loss of Stuart. She took the banner of other mothers as her own, in an attempt to "save other people’s children." With help from well-known politicians, journalists, lawyers, relatives of political prisoners, she monitored deaths, torture, foulness that were taking place in prisons. She considered it a great victory when she learned that, after her accusations, there would be no more deaths or torture at Galeão Air Base, where Stuart had died. The Commander of the Base, Brigadier João Paulo Burnier, and the Minister of Aeronautics were fired. This was both, unprecedented and surprising, especially since this was the government of Garrastazu Medici, the most closed and bloodthirsty of that era.

Zuzu had good allies in his mission of spreading the denunciations: the mimeograph, the Post Office and her sister, the actress and writer Virgínia Valli, with whom she copied and distributed handwritten or typewritten letters, as well as poems by anonymous authors (Some of which were written by Virginia herself), twines that told Stuart's story, facsimiles of the foreign press on the cruelties taking place in Brazilian prisons, were duly translated. This material was posted in the Mail, tucked under doorways in the dead of night, distributed hand in hand.
Zuzu held rallies. In bank queues, in a street roundup, in a cocktail ball, in the salon. She would never miss an opportunity to raise her voice to tell everyone about her inconvenient truth. Once, on a New York-Rio flight, she seized the flight attendant's microphone and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we are arriving in the Marvelous City, the land of torture, where my beloved son, Stuart Angel, was assassinated in the facilities of the Brazilian Air Force"...

Both, the National Commission for Truth in 2016 and the Commission of the Dead and Missing in 1998, confirmed the murder of Zuzu Angel in an ambush by agents of the Brazilian State.

After the favorable and unanimous votes of the House of Representatives and Senate, the President sanctioned, on April 12, 2017, the day before the 41st anniversary of Zuzu Angel's death, Bill 4411/16, proposed by Federal Representative Jandira Feghali, which would include the stylist in the Book of Homeland Heroes and Heroines.

Zuzu became the sixth woman to enter the Pantheon of the Homeland, and had her name added to the pages of steel. Previously, received this honor: Jovita Feitosa, Army volunteer in the Paraguayan War; Clara Camarão, who fought the Dutch in the Battle of Guararapes, nurse Ana Néri, and the revolutionary women, Anita Garibaldi and Barbara de Alencar. With the addition of Zuzu, a contemporary heroine, in this Book, the ever-prevalent pattern of heroic memory is no longer reserved for facts of the distant past, and will no longer ignore the more recent, referential and exemplary history.

The process through which this homage underwent was full of symbolism. It was approved in the House of Representatives, on March 8th, which is International Women's Day. Zuzu, a fashion innovator in our country, had her own view of Brazilian identity. She was a feminist even before undergoing all her struggles. She was part of the National Women's Council and the Fashion Group in Brazil. She made an international accusation against the Brazilian dictatorship, in her protest dresses. Not only was she revolutionary in sewing, she was also ahead of her time. She crossed the limits. She challenged the powerful, fear, and the convenient indifference on which the bourgeoisie balanced itself. 

Her last decade of life was the most creative and productive. The one in which she stood out professionally, reaped glories and joys, became a fashionable celebrity and "made it in America". It was also a decade of agony and of great suffering, the desperate search for her son who had been a political prisoner, the terrible maternal realization that he had been killed under torture sessions in Air Force facilities. 

Despite frequent, veiled and professed harassments and threats, Zuzu continued her courageous denunciation after the loss of Stuart. She took the banner of other mothers as her own, in an attempt to "save other people’s children." With help from well-known politicians, journalists, lawyers, relatives of political prisoners, she monitored deaths, torture, foulness that were taking place in prisons. She considered it a great victory when she learned that, after her accusations, there would be no more deaths or torture at Galeão Air Base, where Stuart had died. The Commander of the Base, Brigadier João Paulo Burnier, and the Minister of Aeronautics were fired. This was both, unprecedented and surprising, especially since this was the government of Garrastazu Medici, the most closed and bloodthirsty of that era.

Zuzu had good allies in his mission of spreading the denunciations: the mimeograph, the Post Office and her sister, the actress and writer Virgínia Valli, with whom she copied and distributed handwritten or typewritten letters, as well as poems by anonymous authors (Some of which were written by Virginia herself), twines that told Stuart's story, facsimiles of the foreign press on the cruelties taking place in Brazilian prisons, were duly translated. This material was posted in the Mail, tucked under doorways in the dead of night, distributed hand in hand.

Zuzu held rallies. In bank queues, in a street roundup, in a cocktail ball, in the salon. She would never miss an opportunity to raise her voice to tell everyone about her inconvenient truth. Once, on a New York-Rio flight, she seized the flight attendant's microphone and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we are arriving in the Marvelous City, the land of torture, where my beloved son, Stuart Angel, was assassinated in the facilities of the Brazilian Air Force"...

Both, the National Commission for Truth in 2016 and the Commission of the Dead and Missing in 1998, confirmed the murder of Zuzu Angel in an ambush by agents of the Brazilian State.  

After the favorable and unanimous votes of the House of Representatives and Senate, the President sanctioned, on April 12, 2017, the day before the 41st anniversary of Zuzu Angel's death, Bill 4411/16, proposed by Federal Representative Jandira Feghali, which would include the stylist in the Book of Homeland Heroes and Heroines.

Zuzu became the sixth woman to enter the Pantheon of the Homeland, and had her name added to the pages of steel. Previously, received this honor: Jovita Feitosa, Army volunteer in the Paraguayan War; Clara Camarão, who fought the Dutch in the Battle of Guararapes, nurse Ana Néri, and the revolutionary women, Anita Garibaldi and Barbara de Alencar. With the addition of Zuzu, a contemporary heroine, in this Book, the ever-prevalent pattern of heroic memory is no longer reserved for facts of the distant past, and will no longer ignore the more recent, referential and exemplary history.

The process through which this homage underwent was full of symbolism. It was approved in the House of Representatives, on March 8th, which is International Women's Day. Zuzu, a fashion innovator in our country, had her own view of Brazilian identity. She was a feminist even before undergoing all her struggles. She was part of the National Women's Council and the Fashion Group in Brazil. She made an international accusation against the Brazilian dictatorship, in her protest dresses. Not only was she revolutionary in sewing, she was also ahead of her time. She crossed the limits. She challenged the powerful, fear, and the convenient indifference on which the bourgeoisie balanced itself. 

Her last decade of life was the most creative and productive. The one in which she stood out professionally, reaped glories and joys, became a fashionable celebrity and "made it in America". It was also a decade of agony and of great suffering, the desperate search for her son who had been a political prisoner, the terrible maternal realization that he had been killed under torture sessions in Air Force facilities. 

Despite frequent, veiled and professed harassments and threats, Zuzu continued her courageous denunciation after the loss of Stuart. She took the banner of other mothers as her own, in an attempt to "save other people’s children." With help from well-known politicians, journalists, lawyers, relatives of political prisoners, she monitored deaths, torture, foulness that were taking place in prisons. She considered it a great victory when she learned that, after her accusations, there would be no more deaths or torture at Galeão Air Base, where Stuart had died. The Commander of the Base, Brigadier João Paulo Burnier, and the Minister of Aeronautics were fired. This was both, unprecedented and surprising, especially since this was the government of Garrastazu Medici, the most closed and bloodthirsty of that era.

Zuzu had good allies in his mission of spreading the denunciations: the mimeograph, the Post Office and her sister, the actress and writer Virgínia Valli, with whom she copied and distributed handwritten or typewritten letters, as well as poems by anonymous authors (Some of which were written by Virginia herself), twines that told Stuart's story, facsimiles of the foreign press on the cruelties taking place in Brazilian prisons, were duly translated. This material was posted in the Mail, tucked under doorways in the dead of night, distributed hand in hand.

Zuzu held rallies. In bank queues, in a street roundup, in a cocktail ball, in the salon. She would never miss an opportunity to raise her voice to tell everyone about her inconvenient truth. Once, on a New York-Rio flight, she seized the flight attendant's microphone and announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, we are arriving in the Marvelous City, the land of torture, where my beloved son, Stuart Angel, was assassinated in the facilities of the Brazilian Air Force"...

The murder of Zuzu Angel, ambushed by agents of the state, was acknowledged by the Brazilian Government, both by the Commission of the Political Disappearances in 1998, after investigation, eyewitness and expert testimonies, and in 2016, by the National Commission of Truth, which presented a picture taken by a DOPS agent at the site of her alleged accident.

Still, to this day, Zuzu's family still needs to send letters to editorial offices of the media asking for corrections, when they report that "Zuzu Angel died in an accident of unclear causes."  

 

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