Fernando do Ó
Interview granted in 2022
Fernando do Ó Veloso is a worker, born in Tauá/CE on August 23, 1942. In the 1970s, in Santo Amaro – a neighborhood in the south region of São Paulo – he organized a protest against famine and the precarious infrastructure in the region, whilst militating in the unions. During that period he met Santo Dias, a metallurgist and member of the Pastoral of the Workers. Fernando’s story is a mirror of Santo’s, and how Santo’s life was claimed in October 1979.
The military always applied the wage squeeze policy, they didn’t even have a pay campaign, and you know there’s a whole campaign by Delfim Netto, that type of campaign to “rise the cake dough” and then share it. And with that jibber-jabber, thatsharing never took place.
In 1978, in the southern region, in our region, where Santo Dias and I used to live, there are Catholic and Progressive mothers associations. In that region there was no water and sewage available, there was nothing, there were a lot of worm infections, so we brought a lot of students to help there, to help us to carry out research too, to teach. It was a way of doing politics too, and the Church also began to expand.
The 1979 strike was a very complicated strike, we campaigned for good salaries, we managed to put thirty thousand people on the square. And Santo was tasked with helping to coordinate this protest and to gather all the people in an assembly to decide whether to continue the strike or not. As the factory started at two o’clock, the police arrived to repress the acts. And as he had said, “look, we have to avoid letting people go to jail, if one goes to jail, everybody is going to jail too.” Then he went to take his companion away, so he would not be arrested, then it started, they shot at Santo Dias. Santo was a peaceful guy, then they shot him in the back.
You talk like that, in the class struggle in which Mr. So-and-so is killed, it doesn’t touch you in your flesh, because it is hard, it’s very difficult comrade falling down, one that took part in the fight, that comrade fallen by your enemy, and knowing that his fight was a fair fight, his fight, ours, everybody’s fight, the workers’ fight. An animal struggle for wanting to eat, the right to eat, simply and nothing more than that: the right to eat.