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PostDeath of Tancredo Neves (Joe Listo, Brazil, 12/30/10 4:03 am)
In reviewing past WAIS posts, I noticed I failed to respond a question posed some months ago by Tor Guimaraes regarding the possible assassination of Tancredo Neves just days before he was sworn in. The general notion was that Tancredo had been shot in the abdomen.
Tancredo Neves was the first president-to-be after the military relinquished power so a civilian government could be formed. Tancredo was known to be a man of the situation since the Vargas era. He held several offices since 1935 regardless of the regime in place, and was also known to be friendly towards the military Junta while being a member of the opposition.
A few days before he took office he started feeling abdominal pains and was admitted to the infamous Hospital de Base in Brasilia, perhaps Brazil's worst care center, where he was diagnosed with diverticulitis. He was discharged a day later. However, a few days later, while attending mass in Brasilia, his pain increased substantially and he had to be flown to São Paulo, where was admitted to the InCor and submitted to a battery of exams by a top-notch medical team.
The exams revealed that Tancredo had familial adenomatous polyposis, an inherited disease of the large intestine marked by the formation especially in the colon and rectum of numerous glandular polyps which typically become malignant if left untreated. A few years ago I had the chance to speak with Angelita Habr-Gama, Brazil's foremost coloproctologist, and a member of the medical team treating Tancredo. I asked Dr. Gama if there was any truth to the rumors spread in the press back in 1985. She smiled and told me that if there was any "killer" involved it would certainly be Hospital de Base which could have easily treated Tancredo with a few, relatively simple procedures and screwed up instead.
Looking back, why would anyone want to remove Tancredo from power? The military were anxious to return the government to the people (General Figueiredo for one wanted to return to the barracks as soon as possible and even told friends of his inner circle that he preferred the smell of his horses--he was a cavalry general--to the odor of people), the people seemed quite content with Tancredo taking over and the PMDB, Tancredo's party, had no significant opposition at the time.
Tancredo died of natural causes. The ones left to suffer from his demise were us, the people, who saw the rise to power of the Sarney family, the most corrupt family of politicians in recorded Brazilian history.
JE comments: This interesting note began as an off-Forum exchange between Brazilians Joe Listo and Tor Guimaraes, and I asked Joe for permission to post. Tancredo Neves's death has spawned conspiracy theories, not unlike those surrounding the assassination of JFK. Perhaps such things are inevitable whenever a Head of State succumbs to anything other than old age.