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Epilogue
Forty-seven years after supporters of the Brazilian military regime set fire
to the une building, a democratically elected Brazilian president and for-
mer regime opponent joined current and former student activists at 132
Praia de Flamengo Street in Rio de Janeiro for an important rite of remem-
brance and renewal. As one of his last acts before leaving o≈ce, then-
President Luiz Inácio ‘‘Lula’’ da Silva stood at the famous address to speak
about the history of the former une building and to lay a cornerstone for
its reconstruction. As we have seen, the building was burned in April 1964
by celebrants of the coup d’état that ushered in the dictatorship, trans-
ferred in its charred state in 1966 to the music and drama schools of a
metropolitan university, and then razed in 1980 as a dubiously declared
safety hazard. The structure’s symbolic presence endured, however, and
for thirty years the beachfront lot in the prominent Flamengo neighbor-
hood sat mostly empty as students first struggled to reclaim rights to the
space and then lobbied to secure funds for a reconstruction.
At President Lula’s historic visit one particularly poignant image of
1968 predominated. On an enormous poster, spreading across the length
of the empty lot and reaching several feet over the participants’ heads, was
an enormous black-and-white photograph of a smoky street protest filled
with exuberant young people, fists in the air. One bearded young man is
closer to the camera than the others, apparently leaping for joy, a rock in
his right fist. It is a striking image, snapped at one of the many student
demonstrations in Rio de Janeiro in 1968 and capturing in a flash the
exuberance of youth, of popular political participation, of the potential
strength in collective action. Most important, the leaping figure is widely
believed to be Honestino Guimarães, and his towering presence at the site
suggested the parallels between the martyrdom and militancy of une’s
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