September 19, 2012
Stan Lehman – The Miami Herald, 09/18/2012
Brazil’s Truth Commission will investigate only human rights abuses committed by the country’s former dictatorship, not any crimes committed by opponents of the 1964-1985 regime.
The commission said Tuesday on its website that it has been told to only look at the torture, murder and forced disappearances carried out by government agents of people opposed to the dictatorship.
It said it did not have the authority to investigate the acts of individuals that were not public agents.
August 6, 2012
Simon Romero – The New York Times, 08/04/2012
Her nom de guerre was Estela. Part of a shadowy urban guerrilla group at the time of her capture in 1970, she spent three years behind bars, where interrogators repeatedly tortured her with electric shocks to her feet and ears, and forced her into the pau de arara, or parrot’s perch, in which victims are suspended upside down naked, from a stick, with bound wrists and ankles.
That former guerrilla is now Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff. As a truth commission begins examining the military’s crackdown on the population during a dictatorship that lasted two decades, Brazilians are riveted by chilling details emerging about the painful pasts of both their country and their president.
The schisms of that era, which stretched from 1964 to 1985, live on here. Retired military officials, including Maurício Lopes Lima, 76, a former lieutenant colonel accused of torturing Ms. Rousseff, have questioned the evidence linking the military to abuses. Rights groups, meanwhile, are hounding Mr. Lopes Lima and others accused of torture, encircling their residences in cities across Brazil. “A torturer of the dictatorship lives here,” they recently wrote in red paint on the entrance to Mr. Lopes Lima’s apartment building in the seaside resort city of Guarujá, part of a street-theater protest.
June 29, 2012
Dom Phillips – Bloomberg, 06/28/2012
The demise of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1985, after 21 dark years, was supposed to have ended government intrusiveness in people’s lives.
But searching through government documents, the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo has found evidence to the contrary. Papers show that Brazil’s secret service spied on both Dilma Rousseff, now the president, and her mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, from the time democracy was restored until the early 1990s.
Jose Sarney, who was president from 1985 to 1990, responded as if he had no knowledge of the surveillance. “I had determined that the SNI (National Information Service) would never do an investigation of any person,” he told Folha.
May 17, 2012
AP/Fox News, 05/16/2012
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday swore in the seven members of a truth commission created to investigate human rights abuses committed during the nation’s long military dictatorship.
Rousseff, a former leftist guerrilla who spent three years in prison during the dictatorship and was brutally tortured, was moved to tears as she ushered in the long-delayed commission, whose work begins years after neighboring Latin American nations fully investigated the actions of dictatorial regimes.
“We are not moved by revenge, hate or a desire to rewrite history,” Rousseff said at the ceremony in Brasilia. “The need to know the full truth is what moves us. Brazil deserves the truth, future generations deserve the truth and most importantly those who lost their friends and their families deserve to know the truth.”
May 14, 2012
Mac Margolis – Newsweek, 05/14/2012
Memórias de uma Guerra Suja (Memories of a Dirty War) is not the sort of book you curl up in bed with. “My method was always the same. Two bullets straight to the victim’s chest,” explains Cláudio Guerra, recalling his days as a henchman for the Brazilian military dictatorship. Chilly and confessional, it’s also hard to put down. “Most of the time, I never even knew the reason for the mission, nor even the victim’s name.”
Guerra’s story, released last week by Topbooks, is rolled out in 200 pages of spare Portuguese, with another 83 pages of footnotes, as told to veteran journalists Marcelo Netto and Rogério Medeiros. With its jumpy storyline and cumbersome annotations, which cover nearly two decades of crimes and conspiracies in the 1970s and ’80s, the tale is sometimes hard to follow. But the jolting revelations told in unadorned prose (“I helped throw bodies off the cliff … ”) make this book a hauntingly compelling read.
From the 1985 Oscar-winning Argentine film The Official Story, about the children of the disappeared, to Chile’s new Memory Museum, Latin Americans have been busy exorcizing the demons of their darkest hours. But Memories of a Dirty War adds to the genre with what may be the most candid confessional yet from inside the killing machine.
May 4, 2012
AP/The Washington Post, 05/03/2012
Brazilian legislators have started investigating human rights abuses committed during the South American country’s past military regime.
Congresswoman Luiza Erundina tells reporters the move is meant to pressure the government to appoint the members needed for a truth commission that is supposed to independently investigate crimes committed by the dictatorship that ruled Brazil between 1964 and 1985.
In November, President Dilma Rousseff signed into law a bill that established the truth commission, but she has yet to appoint its seven members, who will have two years to investigate and complete a report.
November 5, 2010
Bradley Brooks – Canadian Press, 11/04/2010
Brazilian prosecutors filed a lawsuit Thursday seeking damages against four dictatorship-era agents accused of killings and kidnappings. One is a former army captain linked to the torture of President-elect Dilma Rousseff when she was a guerrilla in 1970.
The civil lawsuit also involves the case of a rebel who was killed while in custody after leading the 1969 kidnapping of former U.S. Ambassador Charles Elbrick.
Brazil’s Supreme Court recently upheld a 1979 amnesty law pardoning both civilians and military personnel for alleged crimes committed under the 1964-1985 military dictatorship. But prosecutors argue the law does not prevent charges under civil law and say they are stepping up such efforts. Three other civil cases were filed this year by the Sao Paulo prosecutors.
The three former soldiers and a former military policeman in the new lawsuit were tied to Brazil’s Operation Bandeirante, a repressive secret paramilitary police group that rounded up leftist rebels starting in 1969, prosecutors allege.