South America- 1989 AD

Guarulhos metal

In the beginning of 1989 I engaged myself in recruiting new contributors to the International fund (Ifonden). This fund was administered by the AIC – International Labour Movement Centre. Later this Centre would be renamed after party leader Olof Palme who was gunned down in Stockholm in 1986.

I was so successful in recruiting new contributors to the fund that I was invited to accompany a delegation from the member organizations of the Centre, to visit projects in South America that were financed and supported by the fund. Fortunately for me this was a special time in South America as dictatorships were giving way to democratic governments. We would be there in the middle of it all, culminating as it were, with the presidential election that would replace Augusto Pinochet’s 16 years in power.

We departed on the 2nd December and our first stop would be São Paulo in Brazil. As most people know this huge city is heavily industrialized so it was natural that the trade Unions of Sweden helped their Brazilian counterparts and I remember visiting the Metal Union in Guarulhos.

There was a lot of excitement and sober optimism as the ex-metal worker Luiz Inácio (Lula) da Silva was a presidential candidate. The first round had been on the 15 th November and Lula would contest the second round on the 17 th December against conservative candidate Collor de Mello. De Mello did win but Lula would also become president of Brazil in 2003. Brazil was not ready then for a president that had always fought from the bottom of society starting to work at 12 as a shoeshiner, before getting employment in the São Paulo industry.

The AIC member organizations are connected with Swedish Labour movement. These include more than Trade Unions. On the South American trip Trade Unions were well represented. For the record here they are:  Tuve Bergman from the Commerce Workers Union (Handels), Stig Söderling from the Central Trade Union (LO), Ronny Olsson-Municipal Workers (Kommunal), Yngve Vikström-Construction Workers (Byggnads) and Birgitta Johansson from Transport Union.

The immense city of São Paulo, larger than many countries found me waking up on the very early hours of the morning to discover enormous traffic jams outside the hotel. That is also a memory I keep.

On the picture above we can see Edmilsson Nery and Chicão from Steel Workers Union in Guarulhos. On the background Gunnar Falk.

The National Team (1)

BWembley

Sweden and Portugal are set to play a decisive play-off to participate in next year’s World Cup in Brazil. Whilst trying to decide whether or not I should go to the match in Stockholm on the 19th November, I am recalling the matches I have seen live, with Portugal’s national team. My team!

First match I saw was a friendly as part of the preparation for the England World Cup of 1966. Portugal played Uruguay at the national stadium on the 26th June. José Torres scored all the three goals and my grandmother who had never seen a football match but was very keen on Eusébio felt very sorry for the Uruguayans and said that they should be allowed to score a goal.

I had moved to London in 1968 and one year later Portugal played a friendly on the 10th December 1969. England won by 1-0 after a goal by Jackie Charlton, so Portugal did not at this time revenge being knocked out of the England World Cup three years earlier.

In 1984 Portugal were in the same qualifying group as Sweden for the World Championship of 1986 in Mexico. Thanks to a late goal by Fernando Gomes Portugal could come home with a precious 1-0 victory. That match was seen surrounded by Swedes that had little or no understanding when João Oliveira and I jumped up to celebrate the goal. Much could be said of this Stockholm encounter but it is a story that will have to stand on its own.

Fate had it that Portugal and Sweden would once again play each other, this time for the European Championships. My fourth match was also in Råsunda, Stockholm, and was played on the 23rd September 1987. Even in this match Portugal came out as a winner. An early goal by defender João Pinto ( his only one, in 70 caps) was enough but neither of the two countries would reach the final phase in Germany 1988.

Before the 2004 European Championship that was organized in Portugal the National Team only played friendlies. It was on the 10th September 2003 that I saw Portugal defeat Norway by 1-0. The goal scored by Pedro Pauleta at the Oslo Ullevaal arena. Through our mobile we heard that Swedish foreign minister Anna Lindh had been knifed in Stockholm some hours earlier. Unfortunately she would no longer be with us the next day.

 

Brazilian monsters of music

Caetano-Veloso-and-Gilber-006

When Mário Soveral turned up in London his idea might have been to stay there. Breathing democracy and freedom is what most 17 year olds like to experience. His mother Laura kept a close eye on him. Life in those days was a daily adventure and everything was more or less possible. I had to earn my living and had a fixed job in the City. On our free time we would look for more adventures.

When in London Laura visited friends that she had known previously. Some of these were Brazilian. We were invited to a Guilherme Araújo in Chelsea that had an open house to other Brazilians. I remember being invited to a Beans lunch (Feijoada Brasileira) there, together with the Soveral mother and son.

Araújo was often on the phone on long distance calls. I really had no idea who these people were but it became clear to me that our host worked as an agent for two of the other tenants Caetano Veloso and Gilberto Gil.They had spent some months in prison in 1968 after being arrested by the military led government for subversive activism.

Below is what anyone might read on Wikipedia. There’s nothing there about our Beans lunch!!

“Thereafter, Gil and Veloso were exiled to London, England after being offered to leave Brazil.[16] The two played a last Brazilian concert together in Salvador in July 1969, then left to Portugal, Paris, and finally London.[1] He and Veloso took a house in Chelsea, sharing it with their manager and wives.”

Gil and Caetano were political refugees in England. They had arrived there under the influence of The Beatles latest work. Tropicalismo developed and made Brazilian pop more international and social aware. Velos’s and Gil´s political ideas on the left made them enemies of the Brazilian military dictatorship. Their songs were often censored and some were banned.