Edson Luís de Lima Souto

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Edson Luís de Lima Souto
Born Edson Luís de Lima Souto
February 24, 1950
Belém, Pará
Died March 28, 1968(1968-03-28) (aged 18)
Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro
Cause of death
Shot point blank in the chest by Aloísio Raposo, a Military Police officer
Nationality Brazilian
Occupation High school student
Religion Roman Catholic

Edson Luís de Lima Souto (Portuguese pronunciation: [ˈɛdʒsõ luˈiʒ dʒi ˈlimɐ sowtu]) (February 24, 1950 – March 28, 1968) was a Brazilian teenage student killed by the Military Police of Rio de Janeiro after a confrontation in the restaurant Calabouço (IPA: [ˌkalɐˈbowsu]), in downtown Rio de Janeiro. Edson was one of the first students killed by the military dictatorship, and the aftermath of his death marked the beginning of a turbulent year for the regime, which ended with the enactment of AI-5, a decree restricting most of the basic human rights guarantees.

Biography[edit]

Born into an impoverished family of Belém, Pará, Edson Luís began his studies at the Augusto Meira State School in his hometown. He later moved to Rio de Janeiro in order to study at the Instituto Cooperativo de Ensino (English: Cooperative Education Institute), a high school facility where the Calabouço restaurant for low-income students operated.

Death[edit]

On March 28, 1968, students in Rio de Janeiro organized a surprise march to protest against the high prices of meals in the Calabouço Restaurant, that began in the late afternoon on that same day.

Around 6:00 pm, the Military Police arrived at the location and dispersed the protesters who were in front of the building. Some students took refuge inside the restaurant and responded to police violence with sticks and stones. This caused the police to step back, and the street was left deserted. When the officers returned, shots were fired from the building of the Brazilian Legion of Assistance, which caused panic among the students, who fled the location.

The police believed that the students were planning to attack the nearby United States Embassy and eventually broke into the restaurant. During the raid, the commander of the Military Police troops, Aloísio Raposo, shot and killed Edson Luís with a point-blank shot into his chest. Another student, Benedito Frazão Dutra, was injured and later died in the hospital.

Aftermath[edit]

Fearing that the police would hide Edson Luís' body, students did not allow him to be taken to the Forensic Institute; instead, they carried him to the Legislative Assembly of Rio de Janeiro, where a funeral service was held. An autopsy was performed there by doctors Nilo Ramos de Assis and Ivan Nogueira Bastos, under pressure from Military Police officers and agents of DOPS, the military regime's political police.

Between the funeral and the seventh-day mass held in the Candelária Church on April 2, several demonstrations were organized across the country to protest against Edson Luís' death. In São Paulo, around 4,000 students staged a protest at the University of São Paulo Medical School. Demonstrations also were held in the August XI Academic Center of the São Francisco Law School, in the Polytechnic School of USP, and in the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo.

Rio de Janeiro literally stopped on the day of Edson Luís' burial. To express their protest, movie theaters in Cinelândia announced the screening of three films: The Night of the Generals, Point Blank, and Coração de Luto (Heart of Grief). In hundreds of movie posters phrases such as "Does bullets kill hunger?", "Old people in power, young people in coffin", and "They killed a student... what if it was your son?" were written.

Edson Luís was buried to the sound of the "Brazilian National Anthem", sung by the crowd present at the cemetery.

The Mass[edit]

On the morning of April 4, a Roman Catholic mass was held at the Candelária Church to honor the memory of Edson Luís. After the mass, people leaving the church were attacked by the cavalry of the Military Police with saber-rattling. Dozens of people were injured.

Another mass was to be held on the same day, but the military dictatorship vetoed the religious event. The vicar-general of Rio de Janeiro, D. Castro Pinto, however, insisted on performing it. Around 600 people attended the mass. Fearing a massacre, the priests ordered people not to leave the church. On the outside, there were three ranks of soldiers on horseback with sabers, behind them were the Marine Corps and several of the DOPS agents.

In an unprecedented act of courage, the churchmen took hands, forming a human barrier between the police and those who attended the mass. They escorted the churchgoers safely up to Rio Branco Street. However, the police waited until the clergymen left to start beating several people.

Tribute[edit]

On March 28, 2008, to honor the 40 years since Edson Luís' death, a statue of him was inaugurated at the Ana Amélia Square (between Churchill Avenue and Santa Luzia Street), in Rio de Janeiro.

References[edit]