João Cândido Felisberto
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The conditions for Brazilian sailors at the time were terrible, and being a black, Felisberto suffered even more from the prejudice of his white colleagues in the Brazilian navy. Joao Candido was stationed in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne in England for two years during the construction of the dreadnought Minas Geraes, and it was while experiencing the living conditions and increased freedoms of Newcastle that Felisberto realised how unacceptable conditions in the Brazilian Navy were. In 1910, after a hugely unpopular whipping of a sailor, he led a revolt, known in Brazil as "Revolta da Chibata" ("Revolt of the Whip"). Sailors took control of two Brazilian battleships, Minas Geraes and 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. The new Brazilian president, Hermes da Fonseca, 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 in Rio de Janeiro.
Legacy and statue
The Whip Uprising, which was sparked by the use of torture in the Brazilian Navy, 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.
- The Whip Rebellion - Jose Luiz Pereira Da Costa - page 2
- Andrews, George Reid. Afro-Latin America, 1800-2000
- http://www.coladaweb.com/perso/joao_candido.htm (in Portuguese)
- http://www.terrabrasileira.net/folclore/origens/africana/chibata.html (in Portuguese)