Twenty-five years ago, in April, I was able to be part of one of the most beautiful and memorable moments in History for my country: the campaign for the end of the military dictatorship and the call for direct elections for the presidency. The rallies in the cities had started in January, after the previous year had had an annual inflation rate of 240%. Can you imagine what that is like? Working hard and finding out that your money simply "disappeared"; that it´s not worth anything? That you won´t be able to save a cent: right the opposite, your debts only get higher?
The military dictatorship, as with any dictatorship anywhere, nearly destroyed this country. They couldn´t destroy its people, though. Despite years and years of torture, persecution, concealing of information, archaic trade regulations, hypocritical nationalism, and stupidity, all maintained through the use of violence and repression,one day people thought they had had enough. The press could not take it any longer, either, and the opposition party (the only one) was much better organized, as it had never been before. It was the time to get our country back.
I was fourteen years old, and had to wear a uniform to go to school. The only item I could customize to my taste was my backpack, and boy, was it full of pins and buttons: "Direct elections, now!"/"Stop repression"/"I want my country back!" During Social Studies, in between the reciting of historical dates and names of national heroes, I asked our teacher: what is the meaning of democracy? Could we discuss that? I liked her a lot, she had honest eyes. I remember she said something like: that one day I´ll be able to answer your question and not be afraid of doing so.
For us, Brazilians, at that time, that was what it was all about: militaries out=presidential elections=democracy=the possibility of breathing. We wanted to breathe. We wanted to pick up the pieces and build a country again, where we could be citizens, and not hostages.
The seed was planted but there were some set backs. It was not until 1989 that we could elect a president. And when he proved to be corrupt and reckless, we impeached him. We wanted better.
It takes a long way to rebuild a country. But it´s happening. Day by day.
This image will never, ever be erased from my memory. During a march in Brasilia, there was heavy rain, and people ran to protect themselves under the giant Brazilian flag they were carrying: