Iara Iavelberg

Iara Iavelberg . Brazilian psychologist and guerrilla fighter against the dictatorship imposed in Brazil with the 1964 coup .


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  • 1 Biographical data
  • 2 Militancy
  • 3 Death and investigation
    • 1 CEMDP Research
  • 4 Representation in art
  • 5 Notes and references
  • 6 External links
  • 7 Sources

Biographical data

He was born into a Jewish family established in the Ipiranga neighborhood of Sao Paulo . He had three brothers, Samuel, Rosa and Raul. She was always known as a very intelligent and precocious girl, showing from an early age an interest in some areas of culture, in addition to being considered a physically beautiful woman.

He studied at the Israeli school of Cambuci, in the capital of São Paulo. She married for the first time at the age of 16 with the doctor and also Jewish Samuel Halberkon, from whom she divorced three years later. He began his studies at the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Sao Paulo in 1963 at the age of 20, located on Maria Antônia Street, where he specialized in Psychology . He carried with him a box of tissues for his incessant problem of rhinitis [1] [2]

She worked as an assistant professor at the same university where she studied. She was interested in issues of sexual freedoms, the feminist movement and others related to the national political climate, always repudiating the military dictatorship, and read books about the Brazilian left.


He met Carlos Lamarca in 1962 , through a friend from the faculty, meeting again six years later, and they began their romance with the guerrilla; Following in his footsteps, she remains by his side, becoming his companion until his death. During the student mobilizations of 1968 , he had already graduated, and was working in the same faculty. Although in that year she was not a student leader, nevertheless, she maintained the image of a true leader.

He was active in various movements or groups and for a time alongside the current president Dilma Rousseff . [3] . He was a member of the Political Organization (Polop) [4] Vanguardia Armada Revolucionaria Palmares (VAR-Palmares) and Vanguardia Popular Revolucionaria (VPR), having joined the Movimento Revolucionário 8 de Outubro (MR-8), a few months before dying .

In the VPR, she participated in guerrilla training in Vale de Ribeira, then Sao Paulo, participating in various armed actions that made her become one of the most coveted targets for repression to the point that her face began to paper the city of Salvador, in wanted posters . [5]

Death and investigation

She was found crouched, with a gun in her hand, in the bathroom of apartment 202, next to hers, in the Santa Terezinha building, in La Pituba, San Salvador de Bahía. It was surrounded by the police and the guerrilla was listening to Colonel Luiz Arthur through the megaphone telling them to surrender. Apartment 201 was full of tear gas and three militants who lived in the apartment, the employee and two children, emerged from inside. The detainees were taken to the Doi-Codi vans, while the police thought they had finished their work.

When the residents of the building were told that they could return to their homes, a little boy, José Arthur Bagatini, went to his apartment, number 202, upon entering he met the clandestine fighter and she asked him to be silent. The boy did not speak immediately because he felt doubts, but then he told the mother, who, totally scared, went to tell another family member and he in turn notified the police. That’s when they came back, took Iara prisoner and left with her – shortly after having her in the apartment, they discover her identity and see that she was one of the most wanted in the country – dead, shot in the chest. According to the army report, she had committed suicide.

Die 20 as August as 1971 , according to official version, at age 27, in still unclear circumstances. No reports were found on his death, only drafts signed by coroner Charles Pittex. On paper there were some details like what clothes he was wearing, but nothing about his injuries. On the coroner’s death certificate, there was a question mark on the word suicide.

The coffin was handed over to the family sealed a month after his death, the repressive organs withheld the information in hopes of being able to catch Carlos Lamarca. The news of the death and its supposed cause, caused a great impact on the family, due to their beliefs. Her parents had to accept that their daughter was buried in the suicide wing of the Butantan Jewish Cemetery, which was humiliating. After this, some of his relatives left Brazil.

CEMDP Research


(Photo: Disclosure / Arte iBahia Magazine)

For a long time the version prevailed that Iara had committed suicide with a shot in the chest, to avoid being tortured by being taken prisoner by the security organs of the dictatorial regime, who had her surrounded in an apartment in La Pituba, in San Salvador de Bahía , on August 20, 1971.

At the time of his death, he was one of the people most wanted by the organs of political repression throughout the country, as his love affair with Carlos Lamarca became known . [6] In the same encirclement operation , 17-year-old Nilda Carvalho Cunha was arrested. She died in November of that same year, after she was released, but with serious trauma caused by torture with electric shock.

According to the Jewish tradition, suicides must be buried in a specific section of the cemetery and with the feet turned for the tombstone and not the head as usual. On 28 September of the 2003 , after thirteen years of lawsuits maintained by the family, with the support of the lawyer and deputy Luis Eduardo Greenhalgh, the body of Iara was finally exhumed and removed from the section of the suicides of the cemetery.

The legal arguments presented that highlighted the various contradictions that existed in the official version were corroborated, as well as the suspicions of disappearance of the reports referring to his death. The circumstances in which Iara died were full of doubts, mainly due to the fact that the so-called official version was released a month after his death, along with the announcement of the execution of Lamarca and José Campos Barreto.


Exumation of the mortal remains of Iara, in 2003 (Photo: Samuel Iavelberg Archives. Adusp Magazine, October-2013)

Similarly, in the reports prepared by the Armed Forces in 1993 , there are differences in the versions presented. As for the Navy, it is recorded that it was killed during a security action in El Salvador / BA. Those from Aeronáutica affirm that Iara committed suicide in Salvador / BA on October 6 , 1971 inside a residence, when the police surrounded it. The army mentions his death, in the report of the so-called Operation Pijuçara:

On October 19, 1971, a Codi / 6 operation was mounted to set off this revolutionary apparatus, which occurred at dawn on the twentieth, resulting in Adriana, Jaileno Sampaio (son), Raimundo, Orlando and Nilda Carvalho preys. Iara Iavelberg, in order to avoid being taken prisoner and suffering the reaction of tear gas, committed suicide

More intriguing still was the disappearance of Iara’s autopsy report. The Nina Rodríguez Medical Legal Institute (IMLNR) [7] of Bahia does not even record the entry of Iara’s body to the morgue, much less the report. The Special Commission on Political Deaths and Disappearances (CEMDP) exhaustively searched the documents related to the case. As a result, many important questions were not answered:

Why was a local investigation not carried out at the place where the suicide allegedly occurred, taking photos of the weapon that was used in the necroscopy examination to verify the suicide? Why was the small bathroom where the sought-after guerrilla had committed suicide? Before throwing the photos with which they tried to prove the suicide, why was the detailed report of what happened in Pituba never presented?

Representation in art


Cover of the documentary In Search of Iara

His life was reflected in the book Clandestina, a vida de Iara Iavelberg em dois roteiros written by Judith Patarra, where various details of his thinking in favor of university reforms, social justice, the end of poverty and the defeat of the imperialism. It is also partially shown in the film Lamarca (1994), directed by Sergio Resende about the clandestine fighter Carlos Lamarca, based on the book by Emiliano José and Oldack Miranda. In both, the cause of death that is represented is the one officially disclosed by the security organs.

Not being that way in the documentary Em Busca de Iara , which was directed by Flavio Federico, with a script by Mariana Pamplona. The idea of ​​producing the documentary came from Iara’s niece, Mariana Pamplona, ​​who dedicated herself to compiling information about the true circumstances surrounding the death of the fighter and provided elements that denied the official version of suicide.

It rescues the life of the guerrilla Iara Iavelberg and includes testimonies from people who lived with the clandestine fighter. They present his career as an activist from the beginning of the armed struggle against the dictatorship until his death in El Salvador. The feature film won an Honorable Mention at the 2013 É Tudo Verdade Festival


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