Evandro Teixeira. Chile 1973
“My personal adventure is identified with the adventure lived in the world. I have no merits; I am a man who uses a camera. If it is operated well, it is a match lit in the dark. It illuminates facts that are not always easy to understand. It offers flashes, reveals the pain from the world’s impasse. And it awakens in mankind the desire to destroy this impasse.”
- EVANDRO TEIXEIRA
In the years of democracy and freedom of expression that followed at the end of the authoritarian period of Getúlio Vargas's Estado Novo in 1945, Brazilian photojournalism was characterized by a humanistic and committed perspective. In the immediately period following the military coup that overthrew President João Goulart on March 31, 1964, it became essentially a photography of resistance, now based on a direct and permanent confrontation with censorship, political violence, repression and restrictions of freedom of expression, present in the newsrooms of the press and in the whole of Brazilian society throughout the years of arbitrariness and military dictatorship, between 1964 and 1985.
It is in this context that Evandro Teixeira built and matured his career and work. Born in 1935, Evandro left Irajuba, Bahia, a small town 307 kilometers from Salvador, to photograph Brazil and the world. After professionalizing as a photographer in his home state, he moved to Rio de Janeiro in 1957, where he worked for the newspapers Diário da Noite, O Jornal and Diário de Notícias, before joining Jornal do Brasil in 1963, at a time when photographic images were taking on an unprecedented protagonism in mass communication in the country.
As a photographer for the Jornal do Brasil, Evandro documented the years of the dictatorship in Brazil, from the military coup in 1964 to the large popular demonstrations against the regime and the implementation of Institutional Act no. 5, which led to an escalation of violence and brutality against the opponents of the Brazilian regime, creating a new model of military dictatorship in the region that served as a reference and momentum for the other military coups in South America, such as the one in Chile in 1973. Shortly after the military coup of September 11 that assassinated President Salvador Allende and brought General Augusto Pinochet to power, Evandro traveled to Chile as a special correspondent for Jornal do Brasil, which at the time was under strict censorship by the Brazilian military regime.
His photographs of a Santiago besieged and occupied by the military forces, under a severe curfew, highlight the tensions and dramas experienced by the population and opponents of the regime at that time. Evandro photographed the National Stadium, transformed by the military into a place of concentration and torture, where thousands of young students, workers and opponents of the regime were interrogated, tortured and brutally murdered.
Perhaps the fundamental milestone in this tragic registration of a city and a civilian population besieged by the armed forces of their own country, in an act of arbitrariness and violation of the rule of law, was the largely unpublished documentation that Evandro produced of the death and funeral of the great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda, 14 days after the coup. He was the only one to photograph Neruda immediately after his death, still at the Santa María Clinic in Santiago, where, according to recently published studies, the poet may have been killed by poisoning. Neruda planned to leave Chile and go into exile in Mexico, where he would certainly be one of the main voices of opposition abroad to the military regime of Augusto Pinochet.
Photographs resist and constitute a visual legacy for the history of populations and their struggles. There is no doubt that in the collections of photojournalism, in the press or in the personal archives of photographers, there are images that give visibility to the dispossessed and the marginalized. This enormous contribution of photography to the understanding of reality is fundamental and must be preserved and disseminated. The work of Evandro Teixeira, now preserved at the Instituto Moreira Salles, is, in its wholeness and amplitude, a full expression of the commitment of photojournalism to the direct testimony of reality and to the freedom of expression and creation, essential in our recent past and present. After five decades, his images of the military dictatorships in Chile and Brazil continue to reaffirm the importance of democracy and the absolute respect for the rule of law and citizenship for our countries and peoples. They are photographs that leave no doubt about the crucial role of images and information in this context of resistance and struggle against authoritarianism and oppression.