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Miguel-Santos's avatar

Young Rebel

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Meet Zé Pistola, a convicted murderer whom I befriended last year.

Zé, who's nickname literally means "Joe Pistol", is holding a self portrait of when he got his first gun, at the age of 17.

He was born in the southern mountains of Brazil, in a time when bullets were the only true judges. The first time he shot a man he was only 13 - he got hold of a neighbour's riffle and shot a man in the stomach, after finding out he had attempted to rape his mother. After a short time in a reformatory, the young rebel began a career trafficking firearms across state borders.

In his early twenties, he got used to spend long periods of time hiding in the mountains. He became a local legend, a bogeyman. The police offered rewards for his capture and a local gangster announced that he'd find him and deliver him, most likely dead. Zé heard about this through friends and instead of running, he decided to confront the bounty hunter. He found him in the streets of a nearby town and, without hesitating, shot him point-blank in the head. That's when Zé got convicted for murder. The town people were thankful for the killing, though - apparently the gangster was quite a pain for the locals - and Zé kept his "legend" status.

During his time in prison, he was offered to work as a mercenary for the military, to fight off southern rebels - probably the same that Zé used to sell guns to. It was a troubled time of revolution and eventually only he knows which roads he travelled on. According to friends, he lived a low profile life and even started a family after all that.

Zé passed away recently, aged 70, from complications related to cancer.

The man I met was very humble and kind. We spent three days discussing modern-day views on politics, religion and mostly astronomy - which was his latest passion. But his true passion was playing the accordion, which he never got chance to play as much as he'd like. He welcomed me into his home for a cup of tea and a musical session, which was when he showed me that photograph and said he had lived many adventures, seen too many troubles, regretted wasting his youth and missed his teenage good looks. He wished he had never picked up a gun, but law and justice were always two separate worlds in his view of the world.

Fortunately, Zé let me be the shooter this time and I captured both young and old in one shot. I hope he's resting in peace. He is survived by his son and friends.

Praia Grande, Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Shot with 50mm lens, f2.5, ISO200.

Enjoy and share a thought.


My friends, today this photo is being featured as a Daily Deviation. That's wonderful and very special.
And it's mostly thanks to you. I probably wouldn't have even posted if it wasn't for your energetic and constant support.
Hope you enjoy the photo, again. Love to you all!

Kaz-D, being featured by you is a great gift and honour. With all my heart, thank you.

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anonymous's avatar
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DragonLord221's avatar
Reminds me of Virgulino Ferreira da Silva, also known as Lampião. He was a Northeastern Cangaçeiro, after his family was butchered by soldiers on the payroll of a rival family he hunted them down one by one. He robbed banks, trains, and even entire cities. For over a decade his reign of terror went unchallenged as he earned the love and support of the people by giving much of his ill-gotten gains to the poor of the Northeast. Judges, Mayors, and even Governors would bow down to him to avoid the havoc he would wreak if they didn't. Eventually the Brazilian Government got tired of his antics and after being betrayed by some of his own men he was gunned down by the army in an ambush. Sort of like what happened to Bonnie and Clyde, difference was people were actually sad to see him gone.
Miguel-Santos's avatar
Thank you. That's right, quite a few locals describe Zé as a kind of Lampião, and I guess that makes sense. ;)
Mister-Crool's avatar
"Power is when we have every justification to kill, and we don't." - Liam Neeson as Oskar Schindler from Schindler's List.
Miguel-Santos's avatar
Powerful quote and very true. Thanks!
Mister-Crool's avatar
You're welcome. It is an awesome movie!
Gwangelinhael's avatar
This is really good
Great Topic
Miguel-Santos's avatar
Thanks my friend. It has been a great pleasure to share this. Glad you enjoyed :thanks:
superchallengeromega's avatar
I desired to read a wonderful story today. And I was not disappointed. Thank you for sharing this.
Miguel-Santos's avatar
My pleasure. Glad you liked this piece.
OfficialProJustice's avatar
Ahhhh I was so thrilled to hear about the winner & when I heard your name pop up I was like "He must be Brazilian!" Then I saw some of your art & I was even more excited!! Woohooo inspiring artists around the world and paving way for more Brazilian artists to be heard!! É isso ai Mano estou tão feliz por você ❤️ This is my first time coming across your art and I must say, because I go back in forth from the US and BraSil, I never thought to share what amazing stories I have came across in my journey but your art made me open my mind for detail and the simple things too. What beauty. Thank you for following your passion because you inspired mine 😊 🇧🇷🇺🇸
Miguel-Santos's avatar
Thank you e muito obrigado! Que mensagem maravilhosa :aww:
AzrielNeverland's avatar
I don't know what people mean by "interesting story" and the like. This man is a murderer and it doesn't matter which situation turned him into one -damn, I'd kill a guy trying to rape my mother, too. Still, it is no one's right to take away the life of another human. He might be a legend, but definitely not a hero.
Miguel-Santos's avatar
Thanks for the input. I do agree we should value life above all else. That doesn't mean there's no interest in evil human stories. We can always learn and prevent. I chose my words carefully and by 'legend' I meant he became local folklore, a ghost - certainly not a hero. He murdered a murderer and I was told some people felt relieved to see the other man go - still, that did not make Zé a hero. No one ever mentioned him to me as a 'hero'. I see your point though... and I hope I cleared this up.
OfficialProJustice's avatar
What do you think about the military? Same concept
AzrielNeverland's avatar
It's a different concept actually, you can't compare a murderer with a soldier.
In the end, yes, they both kill. But soldiers do it for different reasons. They don't do it to save one person,
they do it to save an entire country, maybe even more. Comparing these two kinds of murder - which they
are - is completely impossible and useless. It is like comparing a lion with a lamb.

Besides that, I also don't support the military. I don't support killing in general, no matter for what reason.
Because there simply is no reason to kill others. Still, looking at the world we live in, killing is necessary at times.
What I was basically trying to say is that killing should not be celebrated. Neither this man nor any soldier is a
hero for killing another person, no matter how bad this person was. But, as I already said, you can't compare a
soldier with this guy.
xandraclay's avatar
What an amazing photo and an unbelievable story Clap 
Miguel-Santos's avatar
Thank you so much :thanks:
bloodmaker's avatar
This is a historic capture, and an amazing story.
Miguel-Santos's avatar
Glad you liked it. Thank you very much! :thanks:
bloodmaker's avatar
Your welcome, and thanks for sharing it with us on the site. :)
anonymous's avatar
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