Blessed Antonio Conselheiro appears on the pages of a History book as the leader of the Guerra dos Canudos, one of the main conflicts of the Empire of Brazil, in which 20,000 sertanejos from Bahia occupied an unproductive farm and rose up against the National Army in a fight against hunger. , misery and drought.
But Conselheiro was and continues to be more than that: “he bothers you every day, because where there is struggle by the people, where there is mobilization in the countryside and in the city, it is a Canudos that is reborn”, says historian and professor Neto Camorim, who is member of the non-governmental organization Instituto do Patrimônio Histórico, Cultural e Natural de Quixeramobim (IPHANAQ).
For 19 years, the institution has held the Conselheiro Vivo event, which this year runs until next Monday (13), in Quixeramobim (CE), the hometown of the blessed. The aim is to promote and keep the memory of Antônio Conselheiro alive, promote contemporary debates and organize cultural events that update Conselheiro’s memory. The complete schedule is on the pages of Casa do Antônio Conselheiro and the NGO IPHANAQ.
“Conselheiro is someone who goes hungry, is someone who does not have decent housing, is someone who does not have food on the table. Conselheiro is someone who discusses the policies and tax injustices of that country. Conselheiro and the ideals of Canudos are alive in the struggle of the people “, reinforces Camorim, in an exclusive interview with Brasil de Fato Ceará. Check out:
The story goes that Blessed Antônio Conselheiro lived between 1830 and 1897, he was a religious leader and the founder of the Belo Monte camp, better known as Canudos, where the War of Canudos took place. Besides, who is Antônio Conselheiro?
Antônio Conselheiro was and is still misunderstood today, as he was in the past. It means struggle and resistance, because Counselor’s ideals are still alive every day and spread in every corner of this country, every time someone needs land, food, human dignity and social justice.
This Antônio Conselheiro left Quixeramobim around 1857, the son of a merchant who, after liquidating his father’s business, which went bankrupt, had to sell all the enterprises and left that city, wandered for a while through the hinterland of Ceará, in the area north then goes to the south of the state. This man, a walker, draws from the sources of inspiration of Blessed Ibiapina, another great leader in the popular history of our people, and becomes a figure who will fight, above all, believing in solidarity, community work and social justice .
Conselheiro was a figure beyond time, who was concerned with solving the problems of the drought, knowing very well that the problem in the sertão is not the drought, it is the fence of the latifundia, that’s why he was going to cause so much trouble.
Antônio Conselheiro was annoying at that time. Is he still bothering you?
Very. This Counselor bothers you every day. It bothers you because where there is a people’s struggle, where there is mobilization in the countryside and in the city, there is a reborn Canudos. He is someone who goes hungry, he is someone who does not have decent housing, he is someone who does not have food on the table. Counselor is someone who discusses the tax policies and injustices of that country. Conselheiro and the ideals of Canudos are alive in the struggle of the people.
And what does it mean to keep alive the memory and struggle history of Antônio Conselheiro?
In these last 19 years, that there have been editions of Conselheiro Vivo, we have taken this discussion to the school. Our NGO, IPHANAQ, is one of the pioneers that idealized and started this movement, then these other entities came along and it is very important because our concern is with training and registration. The biggest legacy of this event is that it is a training event in schools, be it elementary or high school education, with workshops, lectures, exhibitions and videos, so that this is encouraged in schools.
For us, the event is of great importance because it allows people to know the story of Conselheiro and those who followed him.
What is the importance of carrying out and strengthening Conselheiro Vivo, which this year reaches its 19th edition?
The legacy that remains from this movement is the possibility of, first, awakening in young people and children the curiosity to know the history of Canudos, through the most varied artistic and cultural languages. And, later, for the city to know Conselheiro. Historically, the city has always denied the role of Antônio Conselheiro, because he left here a little, shall we say, disappointed. A man who had to leave because his family went bankrupt, his father bankrupt a business. So the city turned its back on him, in a way, and he’s going to be this great leader out there and bring the possibility of rebuilding that history here in the city.
It is very important for us because it strengthens this legacy, strengthens this history and enables youth and children to learn more and record and value the memory of the history of Conselheiro and its people.
Can you talk a little about the event’s schedule?
The program began on March 2 with a parade with the city’s municipal schools. Afterwards, there was a round of conversation with the presence of Manuela d’Ávila, to discuss the issue of feminism, the struggle for women’s rights and its repercussions on public policies for women in Brazil.
We also held a very interesting table that promoted a meeting with the people of Bahia, who come to honor our event. They are from Canudos and from the State University of Bahia (Uneb). There was also a show with Chambinho do Accordion. The schedule continues next Monday (13th), with historic visits to the city center and a cordel literature contest.
You are preparing a travel itinerary that follows in Conselheiro’s footsteps through the Sertão of Bahia and Sergipe. How will this action work?
I already know Canudos. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve been to Canudos 20 times since 2007. Since 2012 I have been going every year. We made an agreement with the people of Canudos that we would go to the Pilgrimage of Canudos, which is in October, and they would come in March for the Conselheiro Vivo event. Keeping the due proportions, bigger years and smaller ones, we have maintained this tradition of strengthening this bond through civil society and popular movements.
In the last five years, through the mobilization of society, other entities linked to the governments, both in Bahia and, mainly in Ceará, through the State Secretariat of Culture, allowed us to strengthen this relationship even more. After 2014 I started building this idea, as a personal project, to start visiting Conselheiro’s routes in Bahia and Sergipe. Since then I have visited all the places where Conselheiro was in Bahia, where he built churches, cemeteries, roads, some still exist, others no longer exist, but out of curiosity, I am making a logbook and intend to publish it later when I complete this work.
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Editing: Camila Garcia and Sarah Fernandes
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