M Cobrinha Verde:
«I was growing up... when I became seventeen years old [in 1925], I was ready to give a test to the police. At one point, seventeen years old there was a an ugly fight with the police. I was very hated by the police because I didn't give myself in.
There was a deputy in Santo Amaro named Veloso, the old Veloso. He was the toughest deputy in Santo Amaro. He was the grandfather of Caetano Veloso and Maria Betânia [two famous Bahian singers]. He always walked around with two soldiers, one on each side. He wore boots and was always armed. He would beat up anyone in the middle of the street for any little thing. He didn’t know me, but he searched for me.
One day, I was coming home from a samba in Catolé [Calolé?]. When I passed under a peanut tree on the edge of the river, I encountered him, colonel Veloso. I don’t know if it was Barauna or Tamborete, his soldiers, who pointed me out. Then he whistled. “Hey, come here.” I waited. “Aren’t you Cobrinha Verde, the tough guy around here, who goes around beating up the police?”
“No, I’m not a troublemaker,” I said. “I have never killed or dishonored anyone, I can’t be a bully.” And he said: “Prepare to get beaten up,” and put his hand on his weapon. When he took it out, I put my hand on the eighteen inches (the machete that I carried) and I hit him with the flat of the blade. He was startled. His two soldiers attacked… I beat them both up. They ran. I beat up the deputy soundly with the flat of my blade, but left him without a single scratch.
Then I fled. I went to Dona Sinhazinha Batista, who often protected me. She was the wife of Dr. Batista Marques. I taught her children every Sunday. When I arrived at her house and told her the story, she said: “My son, I can’t get you out of this one. You have to get out of here because Veloso is my cousin, and I can’t escape him.” “I don’t doubt it,” I said. She gave me 100 mil-réis [mil-réis were an old unit of Brazilian currency] and told me to disappear from Santo Amaro.
I passed by the house of Padre Acelino, my godfather, to talk. He also gave me 100 mil-réis. He took me to the church, confessed me, and asked for blessing upon me. Then he turned to me and said: “Where are you going, my son?” I said, “My father, I’m going without a destination.”
I went to Lençóis, and got involved with Horácio de Matos’ band of fighters. I was seventeen years old. I spend three years and six months fighting along with them. Horácio de Matos’ men weren’t a bunch of bandits. Horácio de Matos was fighting to be president of the north. He thought there should be two presidents in the country. He had a lot of money, he wasn’t a bandit. Lampião was a bandit. He formed a crew of rogues. We earned 10 mil-réis per day to fight with the police when they showed up.»
Translation by McHugh from Santos, 1991