WATCH: Brazil’s Most Viral Bar Owner Talks Coups, Fears & Samba as Resistance

Bar do Omar founders the Monteiros (Payday Report)
Bar do Omar founders the Monteiros with former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRASIL – Today marks the 459th birthday of Rio de Janeiro, and no bar represents Rio better than the Bar do Omar, which the Monteiros, a family of working-class Brazilian activists, founded. 

Following the illegal impeachment of Dilma Roussef as President of Brazil in 2015, the Bar do Omar became a leading place for the left resistance to gather in Rio de Janeiro and proclaim their desire to fight on. 

“It’s a space of resistance because it appeared when the left was very weak in Brazil,” said the bar’s owner Omar Monteiro, Jr,. “We couldn’t walk down the street wearing the color red because people would say that we were communists. They wanted to hit us, to throw rocks at us”.  

“It was a time of such a huge retreat on the left that famous artists who historically were left-wing activists couldn’t leave their houses,” says Omar. But the Bar do Omar, located in the working-class neighborhood of Santo Cristo, was a safe place where leftist activists could gather, sing, dance, and dream of better days in Brasil. 

The Bar do Omar became a lightning rod for attacks from the right and the corporate media, even national outlets, in Brazil. Omar says that the attacks only helped his bar to grow. 

Now Bar do Omar and its owner have almost 200,000 followers on Instagram and 100,000 Twitter followers. Omar has become one of Brazil’s most viral voices on the left. Even President Lula invited him to his wedding with Janja Lula da Silva in 2018. 

Omar grabbed a few beers with Emmy-nominated Payday Report Founder Mike Elk to talk about coup attempts, fear, and how samba has historically been a tool of resistance in Brazil. 

Watch the full interview here with subtitles. 

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]