According to percussionist and composer, Jose Carlos Capinan, the chorus, title and even the samba beat was composed by himself and current Brazilian Culture Minister Gilberto Gil in 1967.
Capinan says he has sent a letter, complaining of copyright infringement to the Samba school and the Venezuelan government.
“The success should be shared because the song was composed in special circumstances under the dictatorship … now we can be open in a Carnival … not then.”
Capinan reveals that Gil put music to the words on the day Che Guevara was killed, October 9, 1967.
Kind of a shame about the infringement, which I’m sure was not meant as anything but a fond tribute; let’s hope they get that sorted out soon. With Gilberto Gil as the Brazilian culture minister, it might well happen faster than otherwise.
Meanwhile, here’s a link to the original lyrics on Gil’s website. You’ll notice that they alternate between Spanish and Portuguese. Kind of surreal, too: who is “el hombre muerto”? An intuitive foreshadowing of the death of Che, perhaps?