The progressive Anayde Beiriz

The city João Pessoa is named after a murdered politician, but how did this happen?

unknown source*
unknown source*

In the 1920s the power over the Brazilian economy was in the hands of the Coffee Barons from Southeastern Brazil, particularly from São Paulo. The political situation was unstable because the power among the different groups was unbalanced.


In this scenario, politicians from Paraíba and Rio Grande do Sul decided together to plan a revolution. João Pessoa Cavalcanti de Albuquerque belonged to them.


In the opposition group was João Duarte Dantas, romantic partner of Anayde Beiriz. She was still to play a very important role in the revolution.

Anayde Beiriz was born in João Pessoa (formerly Parahyba) in 1905. At the age of 17 and as the best student in her class, she finished her education and became a teacher, beginning to work shortly after at a fisher's village in Cabedelo.

She was also a poet and she was ahead of her time: She wore makeup, short hair, went out alone, smoked, had no plans to marry or to have children, she belonged to intellectual circles and shocked the conservative society of the 20s with her political ideals, specially in a time when women didn't even have the right to vote.


Her relationship with João Dantas clashed with the social conventions of the time because they weren't legally married. This fact was used as fuel for the conflict, as the political fights escalated and got so out of hand that it turned impossible to separate the public from the personal questions.

Newspaper A União, João Pessoa, Paraíba, July 26th 2013
Newspaper A União, João Pessoa, Paraíba, July 26th 2013

João Pessoa ordered some of his allies to break into João Dantas home and search for weapons in order to incriminate him as a traitor of his country, however, instead of weapons they actually found the love letters exchanged between Anayde Beiriz and her beloved.


With the intention to publicly humilliate the couple, João Pessoa arranged with the local press to publish the letters with the erotic content. Anayde was mercilessly exposed to the eyes of the hypocritical society, thus João Dantas saw only one way to cleanse his honour: with João Pessoa's blood. That's how he accidentally turned into a martyr and was used as a trigger for the actual revolution.


João Dantas was arrested and some time later he was found dead in his cell, the circumstances are unclear to this day. Anayde Beiriz was left alone with her grief, despised by the whole society that only saw her as the whore of the president's killer.


Consequently she commited suicide. She got an indigent burial.


Her life is today a source of inspiration for theater plays, movies and books, as well as many gender equality activists in Brazil.


She was only 25 years old.

*Despite all my efforts, I didn't succeed in findind the copyright source of this photo. If you know the author, don't hesitate to contact me.