MUTUM OPERATION – CommanderMario

Episode 35)

Florentino do Nascimento Flores was born in Niterói in 1935, the son of a Navy officer.
His father, in 1937, supported, with other officers, the
State given by Getúlio Vargas to remain in the Presidency of the Republic, preventing the holding of general elections, already scheduled for the following year, to become dictator and, in 1942, during World War II, he was part of the Submarine Fighter crew. PC-544 – Guaporé, whose mission was to patrol the Brazilian coasts and the entire South Atlantic.
Florentino joined the Navy, like his father, reaching Sergeant.
Sergeant Flores. This was his patent when he participated, in Brasilia, in the Sergeant Revolt, a movement made by corporal and sergeants in retaliation for the decision of the Rio Grande do Sul Electoral Court, confirmed by the Supreme Federal Court, on September 11, 1963, declaring the ineligibility of Armed Forces graduates (corporal, sergeants and non-commissioned officers) to exercise parliamentary mandate at the municipal, state or federal level, as determined by the 1946 Federal Constitution.
The Sergeants’ Movement, which had already expressed support for agrarian, urban, educational, constitutional and other reforms, advocated by the Jango Government, managed to elect sergeants for legislative positions in 1962, in the states of Guanabara, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul.
In the State of Guanabara, Army Sergeant Antonio Garcia Filho, despite the Constitutional impediment, took office on February 1, 1963 for the position of Federal Deputy. In Rio Grande do Sul, Army Sergeant Aimoré Zochi Cavalheiro was denied and prevented by the State Electoral Court by the State Electoral Court, as was Army Sergeant Edgar Nogueira Borges, elected Councilor for the City Council of São Paulo.
In the early hours of September 12, 1963, in the Federal Capital, a troop made up of about six hundred and fifty soldiers, cables, sergeants and noncommissioned officers from the Navy and the Air Force seized the Federal Department of Public Security, the Ministry of the Navy, Air Base, Alfa Area (of the Marine Corps Company), the Civil Airport, the Bus Station and the National Radio, the Central Station of Radio Patrol, the Department of Urban and Intercity Telephones, the Telephone Centers and some other public buildings , suspending all types of communication between Brasilia and the rest of Brazil. Officials of the regular troops were arrested and taken to the Air Base, where Supreme Court Minister Vitor Nunes Leal was also held.
During the movement, President Jango was out of Brasilia. He made a routine visit to Pelotas. However, twelve hours after the start of the rebellion, the rebels faced great movement of tanks and army troops, formed by military personnel who did not join the movement, being defeated after an intense exchange of fire on the streets of the Capital, with dead and wounded.
On the 13th, Sergeant Prestes de Paula, leader of the movement, was arrested by the Army Police. The prisoners, totaling 536, were sent to Rio de Janeiro, being housed in a prison boat anchored in Guanabara Bay. Other leaders were arrested in Rio, São Paulo and Rio Grande do Sul. On March 19, 1964, the 19 sergeants indicted in a police-military investigation (IPM) were sentenced to four years in prison.
Sergeant Flores’ name did not appear in any of the official government reports. It was as if he simply had not participated in anything.
Now he was arrested in Mutum and presented as a dangerous guerrilla. His record, which I was able to examine, included “bank robberies and exchange bureaus, attacks on police stations to free common and political prisoners and, finally, actions in the Ribeira do Iguapé River region, in São Paulo, and training guerrillas in Araguaia, from where he escaped when the federal troops attacked, which resulted in the death of the vast majority of subversive agents who were there ”.
The presence of guerrillas in the Araguaia region was confirmed by the Government’s intelligence agencies in the 1970s, when the first clashes with military troops occurred, mainly formed by army forces.
The choice of the region by the guerrillas to homify there was mainly due to the geographical location, right in the interior of Brazil, on the borders between the States of Goiás, Pará and Maranhão, bathed by the Araguaia River basin, close to the cities of São Geraldo from Araguaia and Marabá, in Pará and Xambioá, in northern Goiás.

Guerrilla groups were basically inspired by the success of the revolutionary movements of the Great March of Mao-Tse-Tung in China in 1934/1935 and of Fidel Castro, in Cuba, in the overthrow of Fulgência Batista in 1959. Although led by the Party Communist of Brazil (PC do B), also had the participation of university students, workers, professionals and even peasants.
The main objectives were the overthrow of the military government, through a socialist revolution resulting from guerrilla movements, which would start in the countryside and then reach urban areas and, in the end, the implantation in the country of a popular government with a socialist base. In fact, it was intended to replace the military dictatorship, imposed in 1964, with the overthrow of Jango by another dictatorship, only called “popular”.
Using the codename of Mário, Sergeant Flores was one of those in charge of military training for revolutionaries, since he had been a career military man.
The members of the guerrilla groups, in order not to attract too much attention or raise suspicions, looked for ways to more easily engage with local residents. In 1970 there were already more than sixty militants spread over an area of ​​approximately six and a half thousand square kilometers, divided into three detachments A, B and C.
Detachment A had its actions carried out along the Transamazônica, in the regions of Faveiro, Fazenda São José, São João do Araguaia and Half. Detachment B operated in the northeast of the Serra das Andorinhas, in a place known as Vale do Rio Gameleira. Detachment C operated southwest of the Serra das Andorinhas, occupying the areas of Pau Preto, Pumpkin and Esperancinha.
All detachments participated in direct combat actions against regular military forces.
As a guerrilla tactic, they were always in constant motion through the forest, not remaining fixed and inert for long at their local bases.
Although they tried hard to know the customs of the forest, they were not well accepted by the caboclos, being only tolerated there, in the region. Thus, when army troops moved to the Araguaia Valley, they received accurate and important information about where the groups were located, given by the local residents, which facilitated their combat.

In 1973 few were the guerrillas who still survived in Araguaia. That was when Sergeant Flores, codenamed Mário, left the region and disappeared, leaving no traces that could be followed.

(To be continued next week)

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