Beautiful Bandit

Maria Bonita, Better Half of
Brazil’s Riskiest Love Story

It’s easy to romanticize about outlaws who fall in love, lead a trailblazing life, and burn out like shooting stars, leaving the holes in their story to be filled with awe by future generations. As legends recede, it’s ever harder to match them with reality.
But the life of Maria Déia and Capt. Virgulino Ferreira da Silva sure packs all the heat those landmarks evoke, placing them at the rarefied pantheon of anti-hero couples whose feats and memory still transfix the living, no matter how much time has passed.
As infamous leaders of a ragtag bunch, who terrorized the hinterlands of Brazil’s Northeast and entranced the nation in the 1930s, Maria Bonita and Lampião are at par with contemporaries Bonnie and Clyde, and after them, Charles Starkweather and Caril Ann Fugate.
They all rose quickly from the anonymity of underprivileged classes to news headlines by the way of the gun, leaving a trail littered with crime and death in their wake, but also, a surprising tenderness, represented by their mutual affection.
But while Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were not lovers, and Charles may have manipulated Caril Ann to follow him, Maria Bonita (Beautiful Maria) and Virgulino (lampião means oil lamp, but his nickname is a reference to his lethal firepower) did it all together.
They were equals and in synch in both love and killing skills, although she may’ve been demonized by the Brazilian press at the time, because she was a woman. How fitting then that today, March 8th, the International Women’s Day, also marks her 107th birthday.

Lampião, 14 years her senior, was already a wanted bandit when he met and literally swept Maria off her feet, around 1930, in the arid Sertão of Brazil, in 1930. A kind of local Robin Hood, he’d avowed to avenge his parents’ deaths in the hands of government soldiers.
When she joined in, Maria became a de-facto co-leader of his gang, which certainly benefited from her charisma. They became folk heroes and it’s not hard to picture how the impoverished populace embraced their fight against enforcers of big landowners and corrupt politicians.
Lampião’s campaign lasted some 16 years, and even as Maria could have played Marian to his Robin exploits, the cangaceiros, as they were known, were closer, (more)
Read Also:
* Women’s Day
* The Body of Choice
* Phony Outrage

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Binders Full of It

We Can’t Just Run for Cover
When Ignorance Runs for Office

‘If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.’ Rape pregnancy ‘is something that God intended to happen.’ ‘You told me you’d have an abortion, and now we’re getting too far along.’ ‘Evolution, embryology, the Big Bang theory — all of that is lies straight from the pit of hell.’
As everyone and Ann Romney now know, these statements have been uttered by two U.S. Senate candidates and two House reps, all identified with the ‘family values’ and anti-abortion rhetoric. The question is: how they all have even a shot at joining Congress?
First, the protagonists, please. Missouri Rep. Todd Akin, who made the incredibly ignorant and hurtful comment about rape, is Chairman of the House Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, and is in an absurdly tight contest against Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill. To show his class, he added another pearl to his biography by calling McCaskill ‘one of those dogs.’
The author of the god’s will statement on rape is Indiana Treasurer and GOP Senate candidate Richard Mourdock. The contention about abortion was professed privately by pro-life and family values champion Tennessee Rep. Scott DesJarlais, a then married physician, who pressured one of his patients turned into mistress to end her pregnancy, according to divorce court papers.
The ‘pit of hell’ quote comes from Georgia Rep. Paul Broun, also a physician, who’s member of the House Committee on Science and Technology, and is running for reelection. Speaking to an enthralled church audience, he also said that the Earth is ‘about 9,000 years old’ and ‘was created in six days as we (sic) know them.’

As for the answer to why they’re contenders to such a cushioned job, it may require a painful soul-searching process from every American, with self-recriminating stops along the way, and plenty of room to elaborate sensible theories; from the failure of our education system to the Continue reading

Reax Shots

Dissenting Views
On Women’s Issues

Every Monday, a number of Colltales readers receives a Newsletter with the issues that may dominate the week ahead. It’s a way to offer them a platform to be part of meaningful discussions over current affairs. This week it was mostly about the International Women’s Day.

Afonso G. has this to say about the state of women’s issues, circa 2011.

“I’ll take stand for life and the unborn – as unpopular and out of fashion as it is.
“I hypothesize there is something more going on here than just the rights of women. I write all of this as a former supporter of the so called ‘pro-choice’ movement and join Mrs. Roe and many others.
“When you write of the for-profit Planned Parenthood, assuming Continue reading