History

Founded in 1585, the city was formerly known as Vila de Felipéia de NS das Neves. It was renamed in the 20th century for João Pessoa, a governor of Paraíba who formed an alliance with Getúlio Vargas to run for the Brazilian presidency in 1930. When courted by opposing political parties, João Pessoa uttered a pithy ‘nego’ (I refuse), which is now given prominence in all Brazilian history books and emblazoned in bold letters on the Paraíba state flag. The Vargas–Pessoa ticket lost the election, and Pessoa was assassinated a few months later – an event which, ironically, sparked a revolutionary backlash that swept Vargas to power later in 1930.