Aníbal Gonçalves Fernandes was a teacher, a journalist, a cabinet official of Governor Sérgio Loreto, Secretary of Justice and Instruction, and a state congressman, but his greatest passion was journalism. He was also a member of the Academia Pernambucana de Letras (Pernambuco Academy of Letters) and the Instituto Arqueológico, Histórico e Geográfico Pernambucano (Archaeological, Historical and Geographical Institute of Pernambuco).
He was born in Nazaré da Mata, Pernambuco, on 30 December 1894. He completed his secondary education at Colégio Salesiano in Recife and at the Olinda Seminary. In 1915, he graduated in law from the Faculdade de Direito do Recife (Recife Faculty of Law).
His journalism career began very early while he was still a student. He contributed to the newspaper Pernambuco, by Professor Henrique Milet, at the end of 1912. Initially, he worked in proofreading, and was later transferred to writing. On 1 January 1913, his first chronicle was published: “Ano Novo” (New Year). Henrique Milet’s newspaper folded after the 12 December 1914 edition.
At Diario de Pernambuco, in 1917, he received the newly-created responsibility to direct a special section called “All about the War”, in which a weekly summary commented on the events in the Old World. This section continued until the end of the war, after which it became “All about Peace”.
Also on 1917, he went to Europe where he studied religious art, spending time in France, Italy and Switzerland. On his return, he was elected to congress, to which he later presented a project to create the Inspector of National Monuments, to protect, conserve and restore the historic, artistic and cultural patrimony of the state.
In 1919, in the Diario de Pernambuco, he began a section called “De Um e de Outros” (From One and All). He taught French Literature at the Ginásio Pernambucano, but because of his position against the Revolution of 1930 he was removed from his post and more strongly dedicated himself to journalism.
Besides writing countless articles, he also wrote studies and lectures: Pernambuco at the time of the "Vice-Roy"...:things and facts of the revolutionary government of Pernambuco after 6 October 1930; Report of the State Inspector of National Monuments (one report published in 1929 and another in 1930); Pernambuco Studies, Dedicated to Ulysses Pernambucano.
In 1931, he wrote O monumento internacional (The International Monument), but didn’t put his signature on it. Aníbal Fernandes enjoyed using pseudonyms, such as: Gyl, A., Antonio and A.F. In the same year, Francisco de Assis Chateubriand bought the Diario de Pernambuco which was incorporated to the Diários Associados Network.
Aníbal was reinstated, in 1934, to the chair of Literature at Ginásio Pernambucano and chosen as editor-in-chief of Diários Associados.
The responsibility for running the newspaper went to Dário de Almeida Magalhães, who was later replaced by Carlos Rizzi, but as he lived in Rio de Janeiro, Aníbal Fernandes was the de facto man-in-charge and wrote all the editorials for the Diario.
During a violent Presidential campaign in 1945, the newspaper favoured Eduardo Gomes as President. They were difficult times which included violent rallies. On 3 March that year, the academic Demócrito de Souza Filho was shot during a speech on the steps of the Diario de Pernambuco offices.
The newspaper blamed the police and the government of the tragedy, especially the chief of police, Etelvino Lins. As a result, state authorities suspended the circulation of the paper and arrested Aníbal Fernandes, Antiógenes Chaves, and Nehemias Gueiros, among others. They managed to be freed through Habeas Corpus.
The Diario de Pernambuco returned to circulation on 9 April and in May Aníbal Fernandes was effectively in the role of director. Violence was the answer to the combative articles of its journalists. It was during this wave of violence that Aníbal was attacked and wounded, as he arrived at his home in the suburb of Boa Viagem.
The dictatorship was already weakening, and Getúlio Vargas was deposed on 30 October. Aníbal Fernandes decided to retire and left the directorship of the newspaper at the end of 1949, precisely when Etelvino Lins took over. Aníbal was praised and recognised for his many years of activism during that period.
Aníbal died in Recife on 12 January 1962, the year in which the then mayor Miguel Arraes approved a law which authorised the Recife City Council to erect a bronze bust, in Praça da Independência, in homage to the journalist, whose name will be forever linked to the history of the Diario de Pernambuco.
He was also honoured by the French government with the supreme distinction of the Legion d’Honneur. The United Kingdom also awarded him the King’s Medal.
Recife, 23 February 2006.
(Updated on 9 September 2009).
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2011.
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Source: ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Aníbal Fernandes. Pesquisa Escolar On-Line, Joaquim Nabuco Foundation, Recife. Available at: <http://basilio.fundaj.gov.br/pesquisaescolar/>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009.