João Cândido Felisberto
Newspaper "Gazeta de Notícias" published December 31 1912
24 June 1880
Encruzilhada do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
6 December 1969 (aged 89)
Guanabara, Rio de Janeiro,Brazil
First Class Sailor
João Cândido Felisberto with reporters, officers and sailors on the battleship Minas Geraes, 26 November 1910, the last day of the "Revolt of the Lash".
Newspaper "Gazeta de Notícias", headlines from 31 December 1912, Public Domain
João Cândido Felisberto (born on June 24th 1880 in Encruzilhada do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and died on December 6th 1969) was a Brazilian sailor, best known as the leader of the 1910 "Revolt of the Lash". Sometimes quoted as simply "João Cândido" or "Jean Candido" in foreign articles.
3Legacy and statue
João Cândido Felisberto was born to a poor Afro-Brazilian family. His father and mother were former slaves. He entered the Brazilian Navy in 1894 at the age of 13.
See also: article in Portuguese
The conditions for Brazilian sailors at the time were terrible, and being black, Felisberto suffered even more the prejudice from the white officials in the Brazilian Navy. Several Brazilian sailors had been sent to Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in England during the two years for construction of the dreadnought Minas Geraes. João Cândido arrived there in September 1909 and left in January 1910, conducting the Minas Geraes, and it was while experiencing the living conditions and increased freedoms of Newcastle that João Cândido realised how unacceptable conditions in the Brazilian Navy were.
The sailors had many secret meetings in Rio de Janeiro, planning a strategy to stop the corporal punishments inside that new Navy, which received in 1910 fourteen new modern battleships.
In November 1910, the flogging of a sailor, abusive still for the Navy rules (250 strokes instead of the allowed 25 strokes), anticipated the revolt, known in Brazil as "Revolta da Chibata" ("Revolt of the Lash"). Sailors took control of two Brazilian battleships, Minas Geraesand São Paulo, both built in England, as well as two other major warships. Their demands included the abolition of torture as a form of punishment and improved living conditions in the Brazilian Navy. João Cândido was the leader and the dealer of the movement. The new Brazilian president, Hermes da Fonseca, promised the end of "Chibata" and approved an amnesty, but the government later went back on this promise. In the revolt's aftermath Felisberto and many of his follower mutineers were either arrested, tortured or murdered in prison. Felisberto himself was tortured, and also contracted tuberculosis, but he recovered after some months and was eventually released. The Brazilian press nicknamed him "Almirante Negro", or the "Black Admiral", for his actions.
After his release, he sank into poverty and experienced discrimination, working in a harbor on a very low salary. He was arrested again in 1930 but was soon released. In 1933 he joined the integralist movement. In 1938 an integralist uprising was easily crushed by the Brazilian military, with fewer than twenty deaths, and the group was outlawed.
With Brazil at war with the fascist Axis powers from 1942 onwards, integralism became a small and powerless movement. Germany's defeat in 1945 reduced integralism to very little importance. João Cândido Felisberto, said in 1968 that he was proud to be an integralist. After living in ostracism in the Brazilian city of São João de Meriti and being persecuted by the Brazilian Navy, he died of cancer in 1969 inRio de Janeiro, at the age of 89.
Legacy and statue
The Lash Uprising, which was sparked by the Brazilian Navy's use of torture, ended with Felisberto and many of his followers imprisoned and tortured. The revolt was cited later by labor organizers as an "heroic example of worker struggle". A statue of João Cândido Felisberto was erected in Rio de Janeiro.
His life has gained also a movie, Memórias da Chibata (Chibata Memories), in 2006, rebuilding his fight against the Lash with actors and a documentary called "Cem Anos Sem Chibata" (Cem Anos Sem Chibata), a coproduction with EBC, in 2010. Both productions were written and directed by Marcos Manhães Marins.