Herbert de Souza, Betinho

May 2009




"Solidarity, friends, is not something you thank, is something you celebrate.”

Throughout his journey, Betinho played an important role in Brazil’s recent history, participating in numerous social movements. He articulated a national land reform campaign in 1983 and organized the Land and Democracy Movement (1990). The Movement for Ethics in Politics (1992), which culminated in the impeachment of President Fernando Collor de Mello, was led by him. Betinho dedicated himself fully to two great social aid initiatives: Action for Citizenship against Hunger and Extreme Poverty (1993) and the “Christmas without Hunger” National Campaign (1994).

In August, 1994, he made a speech at the United Nations during the preliminary meeting for the Conference for Social Development. In November 1995, he promoted the peace march of the Reage Rio Movement and, as one of his last initiatives, in 1996/1997, he presented a proposal for the International Olympic Comitee to the Rio 2004 Social Agenda, when the city was making an effort to run for Olympic Host City. He also promoted a campaign for adherence to the Social Account, a sort of financial balance in which the indicators are social investments made by companies. He published several books, articles and essays.

Hemophiliac, Betinho was infected with HIV in one of the many transfusions he had to undergo. His struggle for the right to life of people with HIV/AIDS was not strictly personal, it was part of a wider concern: protection of human dignity. He presided the Brazilian Interdisciplinary AIDS Association (ABIA), founded in 1986, one of the oldest and most influential institutions in the country. The Association’s great concern was the enforcement of the rights of those living with HIV/AIDS.

Given his sibling’s similar genetic condition, in less than 3 months in 1988 he lost two brothers: the cartoonist Henfil at age 43 and the musician Chico Mário, aged 39. Although shaken by those events, Betinho never abandoned political militance, and always participated in humanist action.