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The Unchanging Face of Dilma

The Unchanging Face of Dilma

Sue Branford
Author: Sue Branford
Published on: Sat Aug 27, 2016

As the Brazilian Senate embarks on the final step in the long process to impeach the President, a powerful image of Dilma has been circulating on Whatsapp. But is what it says true?



Taken by the photographer Lula Marques, the photo (above) has in the background the famous picture of Dilma as the young guerrilla fighter and in the foreground Dilma as President.

Dilma has the same fearless gaze. In the earlier picture she is defying her torturers during the worst period of the military dictatorship. In the later picture she, the first woman elected president of Brazil, is being unjustly hounded, about to be overthrown in a coup organised by her Vice-President.

Two historic times but a single struggle, the photo implies. The message is embodied in the image of the resolute woman, who, despite the passage of time, is still fighting for the same ideals.

But as Joana Salém Vasconcelos points out in in an article in Correio da Cidadania, images can deceive. “It’s a photo that moves you, that vibrates in the heart of young people who did not live through the dictatorship and admire the resistance of earlier generations. And it is just because it exerts such magnetism in the sense of a single, linear interpretation of Brazilian history that this photo becomes a brilliant piece of propaganda.”

Joana goes on: “What does Dilma’s gaze represent in the 1970s? Courage before the inquisitor, loyalty to the democratic causes of a broad Latin American left, a deep conviction that it is possible to free Brazil from elitism and authoritarianism.

“And what does President Dilma’s gaze in 2016 mean? Putting governability before everything else, the cowardice of a pragmatism that sacrificed all the government’s policies and is now being forced (unfortunately) to sacrifice the presidential sash.

 “The need to resuscitate the symbols of the past to hide the shame of today.”














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