MUTUM OPERATION -10 July 1975 – The third bomb

(Episode 34) Thursday, the 10th of July, it was not long before dawn and soon a series of important new events became known. The most important was the news that they had found yet another missing bomb. The third. And the most incredible thing was the fact that it had been found exactly in the vicinity of the restoration works on the Lajinha road. It looked like it had been washed away, from where it had fallen, to swampy ground beside the old road, which was now interrupted. When they found her, she was kind of stuck in the mud so that she was hardly seen. Who found it was a landfill worker and not one of the soldiers who were part of the command in charge of its search. But what really mattered is that another bomb had been found and now only one is missing. The last for the military mission in Mutum to be completed. The General Command of the troops in the city had already, at times, hinted that they had hopes that the last artifact would be found soon and the troops could be demobilized, returning to their barracks, in Juiz de Fora, as soon as the restoration works of the road were completed. What would happen, in the rhythm in which they were being carried out, according to the forecast of the military engineers, in a maximum of one week. Or less so. The third bomb was taken to the military headquarters at the Municipal Stadium, where it would be protected by special security measures, along with the other two. That afternoon, in the pool hall of Bar do Lico, an Army Police patrol gave Paulo Otávio and two of his employees a prison sentence. They were handcuffed and taken in a military vehicle to the barracks. No one understood the reason for the arrest. After all, Paulo Otávio was well liked in Mutum. Paulo Otávio was still young, in his forties. One day he arrived in Mutum by bus, coming from Manhumirim, in 1973. He stayed first at Hotel do Ponto. In the conversations he had with some people in the square, he said that he had come from Rio de Janeiro and was looking for a farm to buy. Preferably, it was in the region bordering Espírito Santo and with native forest, which he intended to preserve. I had heard a lot about Humaitá and Imbiruçu and said that I was waiting for an opportunity to go there and meet. He didn’t say how much he had to pay, but he made it clear that he would pay cash, in cash. But he insisted that the farm he bought would have to be a closed gate, that is, with everything in it. Before making a month in Mutum he bought a farm in Imbiruçu. The way I wanted. Closed gate. The former owner, Sô Neca, moved taking only the family. Paulo Otávio left Hotel do Ponto and took up residence on the farm. He called it New Hope. He bought a jeep and started going to the city only when he needed to do some business or buy something, always accompanied by two boys who he said he hired to work on the farm and who presented with one being Liberato and the other Douglas. They must have been about thirty each. Paulo Otávio was a good-looking guy, who was always smiling, as if life was made up only of happy moments and who never shaved a discreet mustache. He was successful with women, but he didn’t date anyone. In the two years that I was already living in Mutum I had stayed with some girls, but only in events like popular parties or balls. He didn’t seem to want to tie himself to anyone. He did not drink or smoke. But he played the guitar and liked to sing. When I was in town, coming from the farm, I also liked to go out with some friends, serenading under the girls’ window. Paulo Otávio could be seen understood as someone who knew how to live. He was a Catholic to attend church, always attending Mass on Sundays. He said he was a fanatic fan of Vasco da Gama and did not like to express an opinion on politics. He said that he had no opinion, and when he was involved in some matter in which he was asked to give an opinion, he immediately found a way to enable him, in addition to not issuing an opinion, changing the subject or sneaking out. What he liked to do the most, when he came down from Imbiruçu to Mutum, was playing pool at Bar do Lico. He was so good at snooker that he spent hours around the table, playing bet. I won, most of the time. He rarely played just for fun. It was there, at Bar do Lico, playing pool, that he had been arrested. He had no weapon with him. Liberato and Douglas were also unarmed. No weapons were found in the jeep they used. Paulo Otávio, Liberato and Douglas were boarded in an army helicopter that took off from Mutum before making an hour of his arrest. His destiny was, and remained, for a long time, unknown to all of us.

It was then that I became aware that the small talk of the Faith, that there would be some arrests in Mutum that would leave everyone surprised and scared was not as small talk as I had thought. I called Manfred Kurt at Jornal do Povo and gave him in detail news of the day’s events. By fax from the city hall I sent photos of Paulo Otávio, Liberato and Douglas that I had obtained through the archives of Tião Fotógrafo, asking Manfred Kurt to try to discover something about the three arrested elements. I had made a small dossier in which all the information I was able to obtain in Mutum about each one was listed. It would serve as a starting point for the research that Manfred Kurt had asked for. But it was not even necessary to start the research. A news broadcast by a National Television Network clarified, at least in part, our doubts. The Federal Government, through the Ministry of Justice, reported the arrest in the interior of Minas Gerais of the guerrilla leader Sergeant Flores, known as Comandante Mário and his fellow corporal Hélio and César. The three belonged, before, to the cadres of the Brazilian Navy from which they deserted shortly after the 1964 revolution, so as not to be arrested for upheaval. Hi, I’m making my Crossing book available for sale on the links: I count on your access, your purchase and your disclosure. Thankful. Hugs José Araujo de Souza

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