Portuguese Wikipedia (“Maria Bonita”): Maria Gomes de Oliveira, known as Maria Bonita ( Glória, Bahia, Brazil, 8 of March of 1911 - Poço Redondo, Sergipe, 28 of July of 1938 ) was the first woman to participate in a cangaceiros group and was the companion of the most notorious cangaceiros leader, Lampião.
Daughter of María Joaquina and José Gomes, at the age of fifteen she married José Miguel da Silva, known as Zé Neném, a shoemaker. In 1929, a matrimonial dispute, he met “Lampião” who was the most famous outlaw in northeast Brazil, part of a movement known as cangaceiros, whgich on the one hand could be seen as mere bandits lawless, on the other as a rebel movements rebel seeking a change in their society.
The following year, Maria Gomes de Oliveira joined Lampião and lived with cangaceiro for 8 years, until the day of his death in Angico, Porto da Folha (28 of July of 1938), when the band was caught in a camp and Maria Bonita was beheaded. During those eight years, Maria Bonita’s won the nickname of Reina del Cangaço ("Queen of the Cangaços"). Maria had four children of whom only survived: Expedita, born September 8, 1932.
María Bonita is part of Latin American folklore, and it is common to find shops and public places baptized in honor of the Queen of Cangaço.
English Wikipedia (EXCERPT) (“Lampião): “Captain” Virgulino Ferreira da Silva, better known as Lampião (more archaic spelling ‘Lampeão’ ( meaning “lantern” or “oil lamp”), was the most famous bandit leader of the Cangaço. Cangaço was a form of banditry endemic to the Brazilian Northeast in the 1920s and 1930s. Lampião’s exploits turned him into a ‘folk hero’, the Brazilian equivalent of Jesse James. … His enmity, once aroused, was implacable and he killed many people merely because they had an association with someone who had displeased him. He is recorded as having said “If you have to kill, kill quickly. But for me killing a thousand is just like killing one”. For the cangaceiros murder was not only casual, they took pride in their efficiency in killing. They were excellent shots and were skilled in the use of long, narrow knives (nicknamed peixeiras - “fish-filleters”) which could be used to dispatch a man quickly.
Lampião’s band attacked small towns and farms in seven states, took hostages for ransom, extorted money by threats of violence, tortured, fire-branded, and maimed; it has been claimed that they killed over 1,000 people and 5,000 head of cattle and raped over 200 women. The band fought the police over 200 times and Lampião was wounded six times.
English Wikipedia excerpt (“Lampião”): On July 28, 1938, Lampião and his band were betrayed by one of his supporters, Joca Bernardes, and were ambushed in one of his hideouts, the Angicos farm, in the state of Sergipe. A police troop, led by João Bezerra and armed with machine guns, attacked the encamped bandits at daybreak. In a brief battle, Lampião, Maria Bonita and nine of his troops were killed, some forty other members of the bandit group managed to escape. The heads of the those killed were cut off and sent to Salvador, the capital of Bahia, for examination by specialists at the State Forensic Institute. Later they were put on public exhibition in the city of Piranhas. Only after 1971 were the families of Lampião and Maria Bonita able to reclaim the preserved heads, from the museum where they had been on display, in order finally to bury them.
[Excerpt from 2015 article]: … Lampião and Maria Bonita [were] leaders of the cangaceiros, Brazilian outlaw men and women who inhabited the semi-arid northeastern inland area known as sertão, Lampião’s group at some point reached over one hundred men and dominated the region for almost twenty years, starting in the early 1920s and only ending with the leader’s assassination in 1938. By the time photographer and filmmaker Benjamin Abrahão took the picture in 1936, they were the Brazilian Government’s most-wanted criminals.
His and Maria Bonita’s love story made them one of the most well-known — probably the most well-known — Brazilian folk heroes. Cangaceiros are ubiquitous in popular art, the subject of clay figurines, posters, and other knick-knacks. They have also inspired pop culture abroad: Lampião appears in one of Corto Maltese’s stories, the Italian graphic novel character created by Italian Hugo Pratt in the 1970s. The group was the theme of films such as Lima Barreto’s O cangaceiro (The Bandit), from 1953, Glauber Rocha’s celebrated Deus e o Diabo na Terra do Sol (Black God, White Devil, 1964), and Carlos Coimbra’s Lampião, o rei do cangaço, also from 1964, among many others. In 1982, their story was the theme of Globo TV series Lampião e Maria Bonita. The group apparently caused an impression on Swiss-French poet Blaise Cendrars (1887-1961), who had a series of drawings of the group made by Brazilian artist Oswaldo Goeldi (1895-1961). In the 1950s series of paintings by Candido Portinari (1903-1962), one of Brazil’s most accomplished artists. Portinari’s paintings, however, depict the cangaceiros in drag, dull colors. Mello (2010, 48) criticized the artist because he followed images of Marxist revolutionary fighters created by Mexican muralists more than the real bandits. …
A golden ring with the name “Santinha,” Lampião’s affective nickname for Maria Bonita, was affixed to his hat.
[Mariana von Hartenthal, “The Cangaceiros: Bandits Covered in Stars and Flowers,” Invitation au Voyage, La Habana Elegante, 2015]