Any attempt to stop an individual’s fight against oppression has always been, and continues to be, a violent act, which we must repudiate and denounce. This happened, for example, with women and their actions against the dictatorial regime established in Brazil on March 31, 1964. These women were hardly ever mentioned in the official narratives, or even by their own resistance movements, which in general do not attribute this group the importance it deserves.

Women have almost always been portrayed by hegemonic historiography as subordinate or non-existent subjects. This is because, following the logic of patriarchal culture, the narrative construction of history is, in general, white, Christian, Eurocentric, heterosexual, and male. It is as if those that don’t fit the archetype do not perform the role of social actors. While many efforts are being made to transform this reality, attempts to halt the actions of these individuals continue.

When it comes to resistance to the dictatorial regime beginning with the military coup, with the consent and participation of sectors of the national bourgeoisie, women’s role is not highlighted, giving the mistaken view that this social group was not prominent in the movements of resistance to this period of terror which was, unfortunately, part of Brazil’s history.

Despite what most official accounts, as well as those of the bourgeois press, had wanted to create in the memory of Brazilian society, during this period women actively participated in the struggle, whether through underground resistance or armed combat, through the guerrilla groups.

Criméia Alice Schimidt de Almeida is one of these women. A member of the Communist Party of Brazil, she fought in the Araguaia Guerilla War, an emblematic movement of the period, which sought to establish a socialist revolution in the country, and which was harshly countered by the military. The war lasted from the end of the 1960s to 1974. Due to problems during pregnancy, she left the movement in 1972, after having been involved for four years.

At the age of 12 Criméia was already showing signs of her spirit of resistance at school, leading a group of students to make a decision regarding the implementation of an experimental school. She later became active in the university student movement, in 1968, while studying at Ana Nery Nursing School.

Imprisonment and torture

Criméia was arrested while participating in a National Union of Students conference in October 1968, in the town of Ibiúna, not far from São Paulo. After her release, the same year, she went into hiding immediately after the promulgation of Institutional Act No. 5, the harshest expression of the dictatorship.

As she had fallen pregnant, she stopped fighting and assumed responsibility for communication between the guerrillas and the Communist Party of Brazil. On one of her trips to establish this connection, she was imprisoned and tortured in São Paulo. She was then taken to Brasilia, where the torture continued until her child was born. Criméia continues in the fight, currently participating in the Commission of Family Members of the Political Dead and Disappeared.

There is no way to know how many women were involved, or all the different ways in which they featured in this period of Brazilian history. We can say, however, that many organised themselves and fought in different ways, like in the case, for example, of those that came together in the group “Brazilian Union of Mothers”, who organised marches denouncing the disappearances of their loved ones during that tragic period.

Fortunately, despite attempts to obliterate these battles, there are historians who have sought to demonstrate women’s presence during this period and at other times in history, so as to include them as subjects of research, and, above all, subjects of history. Considering women’s active participation throughout history is not just about considering gender relations, but, in particular, demonstrating and opposing attempts to make these subjects invisible in the record of events and in history itself.

Translated from English by Maddy Shearer