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Paraíba (Brazil)

Last modified: 2014-12-27 by ian macdonald
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[Flag of Paraíba (Brazil)] 7:10 by Željko Heimer and António Martins
Adopted 25 September 1930

See also:

Flag of the State of Paraíba

Paraíba's flag honors the political events which involved João Pessoa [namesake of the state's capital city--ed.], the Liberal Alliance Party, and the Revolution of 1930. The inscription "NÉGO" printed in white characters on a red background originates from the contrary position adopted by Paraíba concerning the candidacy of Julio Prestes for the Presidency of the Republic, sent by telegram in answer to the consultation made by Mr. Tavares Cavalcanti, intermediator of the Catete Palace. The black color expresses the mourning the state wore after the assassination of João Pessoa--at that time President of Paraíba--by João Dantas in Recife on 26 July 1930. Thus the Revolution of 1930 began. Finally, the red color pays homage to the victorious revolution itself which, starting in Paraíba, spread all over the south, headed by Getúlio Vargas, and culminated in the deposition of Washington Luis as President of the Republic.
Željko Heimer, 13 March 1996

The flag of the state is the work of the Party of the Liberal Alliance, of which João Pessoa was the leader. The word NÉGO, translated "I deny," refers to the attitude of Paraíba against the candidacy of Julio Prestes for the presidency.
Jaume Ollé, 28 June 1996

More about the flag can be found on
"Elso," 13 December 1999

When the state legislature first passed the bill adopting this flag, the bill was vetoed by the state president, Álvaro de Carvalho, who had succeeded Pessoa. Carvalho was doing his best to get federal assistance to put down the landowners' uprising that had begun earlier that year as well as the revolutionary ferment throughout the state that had been triggered by the assassination of Pessoa. Adoption of a red (communist) and black (anarchist) flag was scarcely an action likely to gain sympathy in Rio. Nevertheless, the assembly overrode his veto--which definitively split Carvalho from the revolutionary rank and file--and the new flag was adopted by law 704 of 25 September 1930. Within weeks, the federal government of President Washington Luiz de Souza fell from power and Getúlio Vargas took over control of the country.
Joseph McMillan, 3 September 2002

The story of the current Flag of the State of Paraíba:

In English:

The current Flag of the State of Paraíba, known as "Flag of 'I deny'", was adopted in 1930, after a flag that was used between 1907 and 1922. One third of it is in black, representing the days of mourning that were decreed after the assassination of the former state governor and then candidate to vice president João Pessoa in the city of Recife, capital of Pernambuco State, occurred in 1930; and the two thirds in red represented the political movement "Aliança Liberal" (Libertarian Alliance), which adopted this red-and-black flag in September 25 of 1930, through the law no. 204. At the center of the red part, there's the inscription "NÉGO", in white letters and capital letters, which is the conjugation of the verb "negar" ("to deny") in the first person of simple present, and represents the refusal of the successor to the Brazilian Presidency chosen by the president of that time, Washington Luís. When this flag was officially adopted, the word was, according to the orthography of that time, written with "É" - "NÉGO". In July 26th of 1965, the state decree no. 3.919 officialized the red-and-black flag as the State Flag, and so it is until today.

In Portuguese:

A atual bandeira do estado, conhecida como Bandeira do Nego, foi adotada em 1930, após uma bandeira que vigorou entre 1907 e 1922. Um terço dela está na cor preta - representando os dias de luto que vigoraram no estado após o assassinato de João Pessoa em Recife, ano de 1930 - e os dois terços restantes na cor vermelha - representando a Aliança Liberal, que adotou a bandeira rubro-negra em 25 de setembro de 1930, por meio da lei n° 204. No meio da parte vermelha, há a inscrição "NEGO", na cor branca e em letras maiúsculas, que é a conjugação do verbo "negar" no presente do indicativo da primeira pessoa do singular e representa a não aceitação do sucessor à presidência da república indicado pelo presidente brasileiro da época, Washington Luís. Quando da adoção da bandeira, o vocábulo era escrito com um acento agudo na letra E (NÉGO). Em 26 de julho de 1965, o decreto estadual 3 919 oficializou a bandeira rubro-negra como a bandeira estadual, vigorando até os dias de hoje.

Sérgio Pereira, 11 April 2014

The Accent on Négo

The image I'm sending along is mostly Željko Heimer's image, to which I added the acute accent mark on the letter "E." This was confirmed to me by Brazilian vexillologist Carlos Noronha. In fact, the word nego, shouldn't have that particular accent mark, as far as my knowledge of Portuguese orthography, both here and in Brazil, both now and back in the thirties, when this flag appeared - but it does. Carlos further also confirms the particular squarish typeface.
António Martins, 19 May 1998

I can also confirm the accent, which appears in all the official Brazilian documentation about the topic.
Jaume Ollé, 23 May 1998

At the official site of the government of the State of Paraíba, the flag state has no accent on the word NEGO. Go to Neither do flags nowadays in use.
Marcelo Navarro, 10 August 2004

Pre-1930 Flags of Paraíba

Version 1

Paraíba (Brazil), pre-1930 by Falko Schmidt

Apparently, Paraíba adopted a flag quite early after establishment of the republic in 1889. Falko Schmidt and Jaume Ollé have both sent me images of the same flag, which I believe they got from Michel Lupant: 13 green and white horizontal stripes with a large gold disk on the center bearing the then-arms of the state, a white shield with the founding date of the colony of Parahyba (5 August 1585) surrounded by a blue bordure bearing 16 white stars, and a Phrygian cap for a crest.
Joseph McMillan, 3 September 2002

Version 2

Paraíba (Brazil), pre-1930by Joseph McMillan

Clóvis Ribeiro (1933) says the flag of Paraíba from this period was blue and white, so we have an apparent inconsistency to be resolved. In any case, Ribeiro notes that the original flag was abolished by law in 1922.
Joseph McMillan, 3 September 2002

A set of cards of Brazilian state flags, found by Falko Schmidt at, issued with bars of Eucalol soap in the 1930s, includes a card for Parahyba (the then-current spelling of the state) with both the current flag adopted in 1930 and a white and blue vertical bicolor. The two are shown flying on one pole, the white and blue one on top. This is the same design as was used for the 19th century merchant ship registration pennant for Parahyba do Norte, the state's name when it was an imperial province. I'm not sure how all this squares with the green and white flag reported above.
Joseph McMillan, 6 February 2003

Proposed Flag, September 1930

Proposed Flag of Paraíba, 
September 1930 by Joseph McMillan

The Paraíba legislative assembly originally passed a different red and black flag in September 1930 before settling on the present one. The year of 1930 was a tumultuous one in Paraíba, beginning with a civil war launched by large landowners in opposition to the reforming government of João Pessoa, president of the state--especially his efforts to collect taxes due on cotton exports. After Pessoa was murdered in July, there were riots and looting throughout the state, with militia, police, and army units taking various sides in the conflict. The state legislative assembly essentially transformed itself into a revolutionary convention, among other things voting to change the name of the state capital to honor the slain chief executive. So on 9 September, the assembly passed a law adopting a state flag consisting of an unspecified number of horizontal red and black stripes, each 1:10, with a red canton occupying 1/8 the area of the flag and bearing a circular version of the arms from the earlier flag and the inscriptions "29 de julho de 1929" and "NÉGO." Above is a hypothetical reconstruction of this flag; the math works out fairly closely with seven stripes and a square canton three stripes deep, but this version could be way off given the imprecision of the description. I assume the new state president, Álvaro de Carvalho, vetoed this bill, as he did the later one adopting the present flag.
Joseph McMillan, 3 September 2002