Alex Sanchez and Lauren Paverman – Council on Hemispheric Affairs/Eurasia Review, 11/08/2011
Brasilia has been making great strides toward securing a prosperous future, but one of its recent actions has centered on resolving a troubling aspect of the country’s past. On October 27, state officials announced a plan to establish a truth and reconciliation commission that will investigate crimes against humanity from 1946 to 1988, which encompasses the period during which the South American giant was run by a military junta. Like other post World War II Latin American nations, Brazil had previously been under military rule, and once President Dilma Rousseff signs the legislation into action, it will become the ninth country in the region to carry forth such a provision of self-scrutiny.
A number of human rights organizations have applauded the Brazilian government’s move. In a press release, the International Center for Transnational Justice, an international non-profit based in New York, commented that “[t]he Government of Brazil now has the opportunity to acknowledge a painful past and to implement an effective tool to establish the facts about past abuse, to help victims heal and to allow Brazilian society to understand a painful period of their history, therefore preventing recurrent violations.”
However, not everyone is satisfied with the establishment of the commission, claiming it does not go far enough in laying the groundwork to punish those responsible for forced disappearances and other human rights atrocities committed during the forty-two year period. Reportedly, nearly five hundred people were either killed or disappeared under Brazilian military rule, and they and their families deserve to see justice served. The seven members of the Brazilian truth commission will have a two-year window to investigate such alleged abuses, but no trials will occur, regardless of their findings. “It’s a timid commission, much less than those set up in Uruguay and Argentina,” Brazilian Senator Randolfe Rodrigues was quoted as saying by the Brazilian newspaper Folha.