April 26, 2012
César Chelala – Epoch Times, 04/26/2012
Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff signed into a law a Truth Commission to investigate crimes by a former military regime. She is pictured outside Alvorada Palace in Brasilia on April 19. (Evaristo Sa/AFP/Getty Images)
The creation in Brazil of a Truth Commission to investigate crimes committed from 1946 to 1988 opens the possibility of learning what happened to hundreds of forcibly “disappeared” persons during the country’s recent past.
The findings of the commission, which are to be released two years from now, will allow their families not only to know the fate of their loved ones but also to bring closure to their lives.
Even though the commission’s mandate is to investigate crimes committed by military regimes during their rule from 1964 to 1985, it also includes an investigation of the crimes perpetrated before and after the military dictatorship. It is estimated that between 1964 and 1985, 475 people were forcibly disappeared, 50,000 imprisoned, and 20,000 tortured.
April 25, 2012
Human Rights Watch/Reuters AlertNet, 04/24/2012
The criminal case filed on April 24, 2012, against a retired army colonel and a civil police precinct chief for grave abuses committed in the 1970s in S?o Paulo state is an important step for accountability in Brazil.
(Washington, DC) – The criminal case filed on April 24, 2012, against a retired army colonel and a civil police precinct chief for grave abuses committed in the 1970s in São Paulo state is an important step for accountability in Brazil, Human Rights Watch said today.
The case is the second in Brazil – and first in São Paulo – in which criminal charges have been brought against a Brazilian official for human rights crimes committed during the country’s military dictatorship, from 1964 to 1985. At least 475 people were killed or forcibly disappeared during that era, and thousands more were illegally detained or tortured.
March 30, 2012
Juliana Barbassa – AP/Boston.com, 03/29/2012
Activists shout "murderer," at a retired military man, center, arriving at a military club in downtown Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday March 29, 2012. A club of retired military officers held its annual celebration of Brazil's 1964 military coup as usual, but faced protestors as members arrived for the event. Unlike its Latin American neighbors, Brazil never had a formal investigation into its 20-year dictatorship.
(AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano)
Riot police used pepper spray and tear gas Thursday to chase protesters away from a celebration by retired soldiers marking the 1964 coup that established Brazil’s long military dictatorship.
Former officers have gathered every year to mark the occasion, but now they’re facing a growing tide of opposition and had to push through about 200 people screaming “murderer” and holding up photos of those killed during the regime.
Unlike Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, which also had repressive military regimes, Brazil has never had a formal investigation into human rights abuses during its 1964-85 dictatorship. A 1979 amnesty law barred prosecutions for politically motivated crimes committed during the regime.
March 14, 2012
Peter Murphy – Reuters, 03/14/2012
Brazilian prosecutors said on Tuesday they would file charges against a retired colonel over the disappearance of five guerrillas during the 1964-1985 military dictatorship, the first such case to be brought against any military officer from that era.
Rights group Human Rights Watch said the decision was a “landmark step for accountability in Brazil“.
The charges will be brought against Colonel Sebastiao Curio Rodrigues de Moura, who commanded troops that carried out the kidnapping and torture of five members of the Araguaia guerrilla movement in the Amazon that was fighting to impose communism, federal prosecutors said in a statement.
March 12, 2012
AP/Washington Post, 03/11/2012
A Brazilian newspaper is reporting that federal prosecutors are investigating cases of forced disappearances during the country’s 20-year military dictatorship.
In a report Sunday, prosecutors told the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper that cases involving kidnappings and hiding of bodies may fall outside the amnesty law that released civilians and military from liability for political crimes.
They argue cases where the missing person is never found are “permanent crimes” falling outside the 1961-1979 period covered by the law.
January 13, 2012
Nake Kamrany & Danny Jacobs – Huffington Post, 01/12/2012
Brazil has joined China and India among middle income countries to forge ahead towards closing the income gap between the North-South disparities and take advantage of the shift in the distribution of economic growth in favor of middle income countries. With annual per capita income growth rate three times faster than the United States over the last decade, foreign investment up 26% in the past five years and promising expansionary projects entering construction stages, prospects are bullish for Brazil.
Although the per capita income of developed countries dwarfs that of Brazil ($10,800), its recent 7.5% economic growth rate coupled with its stable democratic political climate have created optimism that the nation is poised to complete its meteoric rise to the First World. The future is bright: playing host to the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics promises substantial financial gain. Oil discoveries, ironically paired with Brazil’s top-ranked dedication to renewable energy, ensure Brazil’s economy will maintain its swagger for decades to come. But how does the Brazilian economy continue to expand while many of its neighbors wallow in volatility and stagnation? The answer is sound macroeconomic policy. While Brazil’s economy hurtles toward economic convergence with the Western world, other underdeveloped countries would do well to examine the economic strategy that fostered its ascent. Brazil’s current status is the culmination of several stages in its economic succession.
Brazil’s first step toward economic success was independence in 1822, which annulled the country’s prohibition of foreign trade and industrialization as enforced by Portugal. However, Brazil’s history of cash crop economics rendered it helpless in the early 20th century, as the demand for its burgeoning luxury exports like coffee was eradicated by the onset of the Great Depression. To maintain some semblance of an economy, Brazil diversified into other industries like clothing, textiles, and beverages. While these fledgling industries provided necessary infrastructure and jobs, stagnation persisted. Brazil needed widespread diversification and prudent macroeconomic strategy to revitalize its hamstrung economy. As the left-wing president and Communist sympathizer Joao Goulart began trying on economic policies like so many party hats, stagnation continued and the country began to call for a coup by the newly-popular Armed Forces.
January 6, 2012
Vincent Bevins – LA Times, 01/05/2012
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, shown at the presidential palace in Brasilia last year, was part of a leftist guerrilla group in the 1960s and '70s that opposed the military dictatorship. (Fernando Bizerra Jr. / European Pressphoto Agency / December 16, 2011)
Vera Paiva has spent four decades trying to find out what happened to her father after he was arrested in 1971 during Brazil’s military dictatorship.
Rubens Paiva, a former congressman, is one of the country’s most famous desaparecidos, or “disappeared ones,” whose cases finally will be investigated by the government.
“The last time we heard of anyone seeing him, he was inside the jail and had been barbarically tortured,” Vera Paiva said, sitting in her house in Sao Paulo and going through details she has told journalists and officials hundreds of times.
December 27, 2011
Simon Romero – NY Times, 12/20/2011
Victória Grabois in Rio de Janeiro. Her husband, brother and father were killed by the military. Douglas Engle for The New York Times
After years of wrangling with the nation’s military hierarchy, the authorities here have created a truth commission to examine the abuses of Brazil’s long dictatorship, a move hailed as a sign that Brazil could be ready for a more active role against rights abuses, not just at home but globally as well.
But in the weeks since President Dilma Rousseff signed the laws creating the commission and a separate freedom of information measure, Brazil has begun to face the possibility that in the realm of human rights — unlike on regional economic and diplomatic matters — the mantle of leadership may not come so easily, after all. Skeptics on both sides are asking, Is the nation prepared to fully grapple with the crimes of its past?
Ghosts from the period of military rule, from 1964 to 1985, have begun to stir, revealing how Brazil, despite emerging as Latin America’s rising power and the world’s fourth-largest democracy, still trails its neighbors in prosecuting officials for crimes that include murder, disappearance and torture.
December 14, 2011
Golbery do Couto e Silva is considered the father of the national security doctrine
The Order of Brazilian Lawyers, OAB, considers the building of a monument to the memory of General Golbery do Couto e Silva, considered the most important mind behind the military dictatorship (1964/1985) as an “unnecessary provocation” which involves “some military officers” in disagreement with the Truth Commission.
“Certainly we can see the intention of some people who have no interest in that the Commission unveils all that happened, and among those people obviously we can expect to see some retired military officers, but I don’t know if active officers”, said Roque Reckziegel head of the Rio Grande do Sul OAB chapter.
The construction of the monument to the memory of Golbery do Couto e Silva, was sponsored and supported by Fabio Branco, mayor of the city of Rio Grande, where the general was born in 1911. He died in 1987 of lung cancer.
December 5, 2011
Eduardo Gonzalez – New York Times, 12/02/2011
Brazil’s recent decision to examine the abuses of the military dictatorship from several decades ago could change the face of democracy at home, making it more genuine and transparent. At the same time it could have a wider impact, allowing Brazil to take a decisive stand on human rights regionally and internationally.
In a momentous step forward, President Dilma Rousseff has signed two laws: one on access to government information, and another establishing a national truth commission, modeled after similar experiences in Latin America.
Authorizing inquiries on government abuse breaks with a long-standing tradition of government secrecy and elite opacity. Even today, Brazil refuses to declassify archives related to 19th century foreign wars and internal repression. After the end of slavery in the 1890s, Brazil incinerated all governmental archives on the practice; whether to hinder compensation claims by slave owners or to hide a shaming period in history, it is impossible to know with certainty.