Declassified Documents Given By Biden to Rousseff Detail Secret Dictatorship-Era Executions, “Psychophysical” Torture in Brazil

Peter Kornbluh – The National Security Archives, 7/3/2014

Ato "Ditadura Nunca Mais: 50 anos do Golpe no Brasil" | DOI-CODI São Paulo SP - 31/03/2014

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Ninja Midia.

The Brazilian military regime employed a “sophisticated and elaborate psychophysical duress system” to “intimidate and terrify” suspected leftist militants in the early 1970s, according to a State Department report dated in April 1973 and made public yesterday. Among the torture techniques used during the military era, the report detailed “special effects” rooms at Brazilian military detention centers in which suspects would be “placed nude” on a metal floor “through which electric current is pulsated.” Some suspects were “eliminated” but the press was told they died in “shoot outs” while trying to escape police custody. “The shoot-out technique is being used increasingly,” the cable sent by the U.S. Consul General in Rio de Janeiro noted, “in order to deal with the public relations aspect of eliminating subversives,” and to “obviate ‘death-by-torture’ charges in the international press.”

Because of the document’s unredacted precision, it is one of the most detailed reports on torture techniques ever declassified by the U.S. government.

Titled “Widespread Arrests and Psychophysical Interrogation of Suspected Subversives,” it was among 43 State Department cables and reports that Vice President Joseph Biden turned over to President Dilma Rousseff during his trip to Brazil for the World Cup competition on June 17, for use by the Brazilian National Truth Commission (CNV). The Commission is in the final phase of a two-year investigation of human rights atrocities during the military dictatorship which lasted from 1964 to 1985.  On July 2, 2014, the Commission posted all 43 documents on its website. “The CNV greatly appreciates the initiative of the U.S. government to make these records available to Brazilian society and hopes that this collaboration will continue to progress,” reads a statement on the Commission’s website.

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Brazil’s foreign policy stance leaves it in wings on global stage

Joe Leahy – The Financial Times, 4/20/2014

This month, Brazil marks a particularly grim moment in its history. Fifty years ago, the country’s military took power in a coup that ushered in two decades of brutal dictatorship.

President Dilma Rousseff, who as a young leftist guerrilla fighting the generals was jailed and tortured, marked the occasion with a speech at Rio de Janeiro’s Galeão airport earlier this month.

Shedding a quiet tear, she cited a song by the bossa nova artist Tom Jobim, “Samba do Avião”, that recalls the emotions of a Brazilian landing in Rio, saying the lyrics were about exiles returning home with the end of the military regime.

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Brazil’s military to cooperate in dirty war investigation

Vincent Bevins – The Los Angeles Times, 4/2/2014

Brazil’s military has agreed to open investigations of use  torture at bases it operated during two decades of dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.

The announcement Tuesday, the 50th anniversary of the coup that toppled a democratically elected government, marked the first time the country’s armed forces have pledged to cooperate in examining human rights crimes for which no one has ever been tried. An amnesty law was passed by the military government in 1979.

The military government is accused of killing and “disappearing” more than 450 people and torturing and exiling thousands. The military on Tuesday finally accepted a request from the country’s Truth Commission, a public, non-military organ investigating abuses in the period, five decades after the day President Joao Goulart was deposed.

http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-brazil-military-dirty-war-20140402,0,290916.story#ixzz2xrVtVKuu

The dictatorship’s long shadow

Kersten Knipp & Marina Estarque – Deutsche Welle, 3/30/2014

Her father was worried. For days, there was no word from his daughter, even though she was usually very reliable when it came to staying in touch with her parents. But the father’s concerns grew, and in the end his worst fears were confirmed: His daughter had been kidnapped and presumably killed – on the orders of the military, which ruled the country.

In 2011, Brazilian writer Bernardo Kucinski published his novel “K.” In it, he writes about the trauma many Brazilians suffered during the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil between 1964 and 1985: the unexplained loss of one or even more relatives. Around 160,000 Brazilians “disappeared” during the dictatorship. A total of 486 people are known to have been murdered. About 100,000 people were jailed for political reasons, and at least 50,000 were tortured.

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According to former president Cardoso, Brazil still lacks an effective democracy

Ricardo Balthazar – Folha de S. Paulo, 3/25/2014

In 1964, former President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who governed Brazil from 1995 to 2002, was a young sociologist trying to understand the environment of political radicalization that led to the fall of João Goulart. Following the coup, he knew that the police were looking for him and he went into exile.

Cardoso returned to Brazil in 1968. With political rights suspended by the military, he created a research center with other intellectuals persecuted by the dictatorship and went into the Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB), the only opposition party allowed to run up to 1980.

Three decades since the military returned to their barracks, he thinks the country still has a less than perfect democracy and sees the difficulties that President Dilma Rousseff goes through to be understood by Congress as a reflection of the problems faced by Jango (Goulart) in his time.

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