In Salvador, there is one day of the year when I was woken up by the government at 6 am sharp: the 7th of September, when the Army plays a strident trumpet to announce the Independence parade. A normal Sete de Setembro parade, which I believe is the same across the country. Now I regret that I never lived as an adult during the festivities of the other Independence date: the 2nd of July. On July 2, 1823, the Portuguese troops were definitively expelled from the Bahia. Therefore, it is the state magna date. Every self-respecting Bahian, whether on the right or left, is infuriated by the current name of the airport, which was Dois de Julho until the old ACM renamed it with the name of his dead son, even placing a mortuary monument with his heart in the access avenue. The PT was elected, but did not restore the name, and even invented the fake news that an international airport cannot change its name because of a definitive code. But the international code of our airport is simply SSA.
In the city of my new address, Cachoeira, it is not possible to calculate for sure how many days the public or ecclesiastical authorities (which are not very easy to distinguish) wakes up the citizen at 6 am sharp. There is no bugle; are fireworks. And if there are no fireworks at 6 am due to a commemorative date, there can be at 6 pm, or after that, especially if it’s mass. When there is unidentified fireworks, I open WhatsApp’s stories to see if practicing Catholics have posted a picture of a saint. It often kills my curiosity; still, I decided it was easier to accept that the occasional fireworks is part of the environment, and that I will never be able to record the entire commemorative calendar.
But when I woke up at 6am with the fireworks on the day 06 of June, I knew very well what it was about, because I was actually waiting for it and had even called friends to see the party: the great date of Cachoeira. This time, the 14 June was special, as it was the Bicentennial of Independence.
Before D. Pedro gives the Ipiranga cry on the 7th of September 1822, Bahia had been facing military disturbances for months. With the return of the Court to Lisbon, Portugal intended to return Brazil to the status of a colony, sending military interveners from the Metropolis to replace the provincial governments (which are called “states” since the republic) and govern by decree, disregarding the legislatures elected by Brazilians. As a result, the Chamber of Salvador intended to recognize Prince D. Pedro, of Rio de Janeiro, as Regent of Brazil. The Portuguese Army blocked the paths to the Chamber (which is there next to the Lacerda Elevator) and prevented the session from taking place. Conflicts between Bahian and Portuguese soldiers escalated in February, when the first martyr of Independence emerged: Abbess Joana Angélica had let the Bahian soldiers hide in the convent and, when the Portuguese army asked to enter, she did not. According to the chroniclers, she would have said that they would only enter by walking over her corpse. In fact, she was speared and killed. Then the climate warmed up.
With Salvador taken, the Salvadoran agitators left the peninsula and migrated to the other side of the Bay (or Gulf) of Todos os Santos – where Cachoeira is located. They articulated for the Chamber here, instead of that of Salvador, to acclaim Prince D. Pedro as Regent of Brazil. They managed to do this in 14 of June 479, therefore still before the 7th of September. It was not exactly a declaration of independence – since D. Pedro would be Prince Regent of Brazil, hierarchically inferior to that of D. João VI, King of Portugal, Brazil and the Algarves. It was a way of conserving the autonomy of Brazil inherited from colonial times (when cities and towns elected their legislative chambers and mayors) and of resisting the modern Absolutism in which Portugal embarked. In any case, it is a good landmark to kick off Independence.
Cachoeira also has its martyr: the “Tambor Soledade”. According to the chroniclers, a black tambourine player named Soledade, when he saw the Portuguese ships approaching the village, ran out with his bass drum to play in the square and warn of the approach of the troops. Shortly after succeeding, he died hit by a cannonball fired by a Portuguese ship. A long battle extended along the western side of the Baía de Todos os Santos until it culminated in the expulsion of Portuguese troops from Salvador, on July 2, 1822. The Bahia movement for Independence is, therefore, at the same time before and after the Sete de Setembro. If the war in Bahia were lost, Brazil would not maintain its territorial unity and Portugal would have a strong point of support to reconquer the Brazilian Southeast.