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Professor Doctor José Souto Maior Borges (1932 – 2021) - English

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Américo Cardoso dos Santos Júnior

souto maior

CAFIB reports, with deep regret, the passing of Professor Doctor José Souto Maior Borges, at the age of 88, which occurred on February 2, 2021. In addition to being part of the CAFIB-Brasil panel of judges, “Mestre Souto”, as he was affectionately called in the legal environment, was also the founder and president of CAFIB-Recife.

Born in Pernambuco in 1932, he was Full Professor and Director of the very traditional School of Law of Recife at the Federal University of Pernambuco (FDR-UFPE), founded by Dom Pedro I in 1827, together with the current School of Law of the University of São Paulo, in Largo São Francisco, in São Paulo capital. In the rooms of this institution in Pernambuco well-known personalities used to go to school, such as Barão do Rio Branco, Castro Alves, Ruy Barbosa, Assis Chateaubriand, José Lins do Rego, Aurélio Buarque de Holanda and many other names of Brazilian intellectuals. As a professor, Souto Maior joined this University, by public examination, in 1961, having retired in 1998 after constituting a solid academic trajectory. And there, where he had completed his undergraduate, master's and doctorate studies in Law, in addition to a having a degree in Philosophy, “Mestre Souto” received the Medal of Merit in 2012. He was also a professor at the School of Treasury Administration (ESAF) and professor emeritus at the Pontifical Catholic University of São Paulo (PUC-SP), an institution classified by the Ministry of Education (MEC) as the best private university in the entire state of São Paulo and the second best in Brazil. He also held the positions of Prosecutor and Director of Tax Affairs of Recife, Superintendent of the Inspection of Income of Pernambuco, Fiscal Auditor and Secretary of Administration of Pernambuco.

Souto Maior, in addition to being considered by his peers as a true revolutionary in the area of Tax Law, was the Brazilian reference in this field and considered as one of the greatest tax lawyers in Latin America. He wrote and published works considered classic and of the essence for the study of Law, as well as research and considerations on the relationship between science and philosophy, as in the book “Ciência Feliz”, launched in 2007. We highlight an excerpt: “The only search, the worthwhile attempt, consists of walking and searching the path of the heart. Having a heart, any path can be taken.”

The death of the master was widely commented in the legal environment and we reproduce here some of these manifestations. UFPE, in a note of regret, points out that Professor Souto Maior was ... one of the most notable jurists who passed through that house. The National Association of Federal Public Lawyers (ANAFE) also expressed, in a note, ... the deep regret for the death of the tax attorney and professor José Souto Maior Borges, a Brazilian reference in the area of Tax and Financial Law. Maurício Faro, president of CEAT - Special Commission on Tax Affairs of OAB/RJ, the Rio de Janeiro Sectional Council of the Brazilian Bar Association, commented that ... We have lost one of the greatest scholars of Tax Law and a great human being. A spectacular thinker, with anthological works of analysis of the matter. His “General Theory of Tax Exemption helped to train various legal operators across the country." Heleno Taveira Torres - graduate and master from the School of Law of Recife and current professor at the School of Law of USP - said that ... Today is a day of mourning for our legal community. Professor Souto Maior Borges revolutionized the entire Tax Law. He had a plural culture. Philosopher by training, he dedicated himself to deepen the great themes of the General Theory of Law. He wrote the densest work of Community Law outside Europe. He was always generous and grand with friends. I owe much of what I am to this great master. Of unmistakable genius and style. In addition to Law, he was deeply in love with his family, but he had space for his collection of ferns and for studying Fila dogs, his favorite hobbies.

About cynophilia and genetic improvement of the Fila Brasileiro dog, for a long time he alone wrote, made copies and posted to a large number of readers from all over Brazil the series of bulletins “O Fila”, containing technical articles, discussions and news about the breed. These writings of his were also reproduced by other press agencies and on specialized websites, such as Chico Peltier's, of which we highlight the article entitled “Black Mestizos of Fila Brasileiro: A wooden iron ”. It is still important to mention his brilliant text “Paulo Roberto Godinho: Sketch of a Cynological microbiography”, which serves as an opening to the excellent book of this all rounder judge and cynophile writer, “Fila Brasileiro - A gift from the stars”. Incidentally, I reproduce here another excerpt of testimony, now no longer about the lawyer, but about the cynophile Souto Maior, posted on Facebook, by Paulo Roberto Godinho: ... I usually say that Fila Brasileiro - A gift from the stars, are two books. One that I wrote and the other that Souto summed up in a perfect Preface ... Fila Brasileiro lost one of its biggest bulwarks and I lost a dearest friend...

“Mestre Souto”, although he was a typically urban citizen, to expand his great passion for animals and plants, he ended up buying a rural property where he intended to dedicate himself to the genetic improvement of the Santa Gertrudis cattle breed. It is very common for people with city backgrounds to idealize a bucolic paradise, away from the noise and pollution of large cities, where, in addition to the restful silence and healthy clean air, fruits, vegetables and greens, tasty and free of pesticides, are born naturally and in abundance. This idyllic setting also includes plenty of milk and its derivatives, delicious free range eggs and chicken, as well as pururuca piglets, and so many other delicacies that nature graciously provides. And the employees are simple people, but they are all extremely efficient, dedicated and respectful. There, of course, there are no labor issues and all animals and plants are extremely prolific, in addition to being absolutely free of diseases and pests. The harsh realization that reality is very different from illusion, led to the creation of the famous phrase that points out the two great joys provided by rural property to urban citizens; the moment of buying (when he reaches an old dream) and the moment of selling (when he finally gets rid of a nightmare).

Souto Maior, when he came to São Paulo, to teach at PUC or to follow the CAFIB Exhibitions, told us, with his usual erudite and flowing language, the many difficulties he faced on his farm. He was appalled because, when talking to his employees, he felt that they understood absolutely nothing of what he said, as if he were expressing himself in another language. He did not realize that, quite naturally, he addressed crude people and simple countrymen with the same sophisticated vocabulary that he used in his lectures given for learned scholars. He told us about his attempt to design a vegetable garden in the countryside, intended both to supply his home in the city and also the menu of his rural employees. When, at last, he managed to make himself understood by the perplexed employee, he heard his indignant reply: "I am not a lizard to eat grass!" Still on his farm and the mentality of his “workers”, he also told us about the inexplicable disappearance of an expensive water pump shortly after he bought it, although that region did not register theft or robberies. The strange fate of the sophisticated equipment was only discovered later, when, during a period of particularly severe drought, the water level in the reservoir dropped so low that it ended up revealing the whereabouts of the expensive widget, which sadly lay there, already quite rusty, covered of mud and unusable.

It consoles us to know that he had a long life, which he enjoyed deeply, he was a fully realized man as a professional and as head of the family, and his great merits achieved deep recognition from his peers. With much nostalgia, we can only say: Rest in peace, “Mestre Souto”, or as he, more eruditically, might prefer: Requiescat in pace.