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Tue, 11.22.1910

‘The Revolt of the Lash’ occurs

'The Revolt of the Lash'

*On this date in 1910, 'The Revolt of the Lash' occurred. This was a naval mutiny in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  

At the beginning of the 20th century, Brazil attempted to transform its country into an international power by modernizing the Brazilian Navy. Social conditions gave Elite white officers oversight, primarily Black and mixed-race crew members. These officers frequently inflicted corporal punishment on the crew members for major and minor offenses alike despite the practice's ban in most other countries and the rest of Brazil.  As a result of this violence, Afro Brazilian and mixed-race enlisted sailors launched a carefully planned and executed mutiny in Rio de Janeiro on this date in 1910.

Led by João Cândido Felisberto, they took control of both ships, giving them firepower that dwarfed the rest of the Navy. To capitalize on the threat these ships posed to the Brazilian capital, the mutineers sent a letter to the government that demanded an end to what they called the "slavery" being practiced by the Navy. While the executive branch of the government plotted to retake or sink the rebelling warships, they were hampered by personnel distrust and equipment problems; historians have since cast doubt on their chances of accomplishing either. At the same time, Congress—led by Senator Rui Barbosa—pursued a route of amnesty, appointing a former navy captain as their liaison to the rebels.

This latter route was successful, and a bill granting amnesty to all involved and ending the use of corporal punishment passed the lower house by a veto-proof margin. However, many of the sailors involved were discharged from the Navy, and many of the original mutineers were later thrown into jail on Ilha das Cobras or sent to rubber collecting regions in the Brazilian Amazon.  In Ilha das Cobras, Cândido and seventeen others were transferred to an isolation cell; by the following day, only two were left alive. Meanwhile, a steamship named Satelite left Rio de Janeiro for the rubber collecting regions in the Amazon with over four hundred former sailors on board.  Cândido went to a mental hospital.

It took eighteen months before the trial for their anti-government actions. The judges found them not guilty, and all were discharged from the Navy. For the sailors who remained in or were joining the Navy, conditions did not immediately change. Sailors, including in the maligned naval apprenticeship schools, did begin graduating with basic literacy—a significant step above previous practices. However, these did not include the sailors already in the Navy, and a program to change that was shelved when a new administration was put into place in 1912. The Navy was instead left to fall into disrepair for a time, not unlike what had happened in 1893. With Brazil at war with the fascist Axis powers from 1942 onwards, integralism became a small and powerless movement.


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