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Gregório Bezerra

Date Born.:

Military, Politician

Gregório Bezerra

Article available in: PT-BR

Last update: 02/04/2018

By: Maria do Carmo Gomes de Andrade - Librarian of the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco

Gregorio Bezerra, politician, communist leader and former sergeant of the Brazilian Army, was born on 13 March 1900, at a small farm named Mocóin the municipality of Panelas de Miranda, Pernambuco. The son of impoverished and illiterate peasants, he was hungry even in his mother’swomb asshe too was hungry.

He was born in a year of great drought, when hundreds of migrants were dying on the roads searching for food and water to drink. There was no milk; neither breast milknor cow’s milk. His parents and his older brothers, who had lost the previous crop, roamed the roads in the ‘caatinga’ (semi-arid region) in search of work to alleviate the sorry plight of the family.

Gregório began working in agriculture, tilling plots at the age when he should have been going to school.Thus, he never had an opportunity to be literate.

In 1917, after much wandering, already living in Recife and working as anbuilder’s assistant, he attended a rally for better wages and in solidarity with the Bolshevik movement in the Soviet Union. He was arrested, tried and sentenced to seven years in prison.

After a retrial,he was released in 1922. He needed the certificate of military service in order to get a job, so he decided to enter the Army. In 1923, he was transferred to Rio de Janeiro, where he completed his military service.

In 1925, he decided to become literate to apply for theInfantry Sergeant course. Already a second sergeant, he was assigned as Instructor of the Heavy Machine Guns Company in the Military Village, and was also asports instructor. He then requested a transfer to the Seventh Military Region, in Recife.

During his Army period, after learning to read and write,Gregório discovered the Communism ideology that he embraced throughout his life,as he believed that it was the only way fora fairer and better society. In 1930, he joined the Brazilian Communist Party (PCB) and in 1935 was one of the leaders of the armed movement, the National Liberation Alliance (ANL). As a rebel soldier, he participated inthe armed struggle that tried to establisha Communist regime in Brazil. With the defeat of this movement, he was jailed for three years in Recife, and sentenced to 28 years imprisonment by the Court of National Security.

He was transferred to the island of Fernando de Noronha and then to the prison on Ilha Grande in Rio de Janeiro, eventually being sent to Frei Caneca prison, where he stayed in the same cell as Luiz Carlos Prestes.

He was pardoned in 1945, and with the legalization of the PCB, Gregórioreturned to Pernambuco and was elected federal representative for the Party, being the second highest vote-getterin Pernambuco. In 1948, communism became illegal once more, and Gregório had his mandate revoked.

Shortly afterwards, a fire in the 15th Infantry Regiment of the Army in João Pessoa, Paraíba, was attributed to the Communists, and Gregório was arrested in Rio de Janeiro andtaken to a prison in Paraíba where he remained for 91 days, and then taken to Recife where he stayed in prison for two more years.

A retrial freed Gregório, who travelled around several regions preaching Agrarian Reform and organising rural workers’ unions. In 1963, he participated in the organisation of a strike of 200,000 workers in the sugar-cane zone of Pernambuco.

In 1964, when Governor Miguel Arraes was deposed and imprisoned, he went in search of weapons for peasants in an attempt to face up to the military coup, but was arrestedat the Pedrosa sugarcane factory, in Ribeirão-PE. He was taken to Recife and tortured in public, dragged through the streets of the Casa Forte neighbourhood with a rope tied around his neck.

Encouraged by Paulo Cavalcanti, with whom he was inthe same prison for the same case, Gregório began writing his memoirs. The manuscripts were initially delivered to Jurandir Bezerra, son of Gregório, during visits on weekends. Later they fell under the care of Paulo Cavalcanti himself, who was studying the best opportunity to publish them because he believed it would be a “book of great social and political interest, with afluent, easy to read style.”

In 1969, he was released along with other comrades in exchange for the U.S. ambassador, Charles B. Elbrick, who had been kidnapped by the resistance to the military dictatorship. He went to Mexico and then to the Soviet Union, where he lived for ten years.

When Gregório was exiled from Brazil, he had no news abouthis manuscripts, thinking they had been seized by the army or the Bureau of Political and Social Order (DOPS). He decided then to rewrite his memoirs, in Moscow, which were published successfully by EnioSilveira.

Benefitted by the amnesty in 1979, he returned to Brazil. He left the PCB’s Central Committee because of internal dissension, and in 1982 was a federal representative candidate for the Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (PMDB) in Pernambuco, being elected only as an alternate member.

He died in São Paulo on 23 October 1983.

His body was kept in state in the Legislative Assembly of the State of Pernambuco, drawing thousands of people. From the top of a gallery in the Legislative Assembly, a banner painted red reproduced the verses of the song sung by Elis Regina: Choram Marias e Clarices no solo do Brasil (Clarices and Marys are Weeping on Brazilian Soil).


Recife, 29 november 2005.
Updated on 14 september 2009.
Translated by Peter Leamy, February 2012.
Updated on 2 april 2018.

sources consulted

BEZERRA, Gregório. Memórias. Rio de Janeiro: Civilização Brasileira, 1979. 2v.

CAVALCANTI, Paulo. A luta clandestina: o caso eu conto como o caso foi. Recife: Ed. Guararapes, 1985.

GREGÓRIO BEZERRA. In: Pernambuco de A/Z. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 10 out. 2005.

GREGÓRIO BEZERRA. In: Portal dos Municípios. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 13 out. 2005.

GREGÓRIO BEZERRA [Foto neste texto]. Disponível em: <>. Acesso em: 23 mar. 2018.

how to quote this text

Source: ANDRADE, Maria do Carmo. Gregório Bezerra. Pesquisa Escolar Online, Joaquim Nabuco Foudation, Recife. Available at:  <>. Accessed: day month year. Exemple: 6 Aug. 2009