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.
November 21, 2011
Marco Sibaja – AP/Huffington Post, 11/18/2011
The bills are under the umbrella of the 1979 Amnesty Bill which protects torturers and guerrillas from prosecution. Mercopress
BRASILIA, Brazil — Brazil’s president signed a law on Friday establishing a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses by the military regime that ruled Latin America’s biggest country from 1964 to 1985.
President Dilma Rousseff will appoint the seven members of the commission, which will have two years to complete a report.
The board will have subpoena power, can demand any document it wants from the government and can put witnesses under oath. But its recommendations won’t result in any prosecutions as long as the country’s 1979 amnesty law remains intact.
*On March 22, 2011, the Brazil Institute held a discussion on the progress that had been made in creating a Truth Commission. Click here to watch or read a summary of the event.
November 18, 2011
The Economist – from the print edition, 11/19/2011
DILMA ROUSSEFF was tortured; Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva was jailed; Fernando Henrique Cardoso was forced into exile. Brazil’s president and her two most recent predecessors all suffered under the country’s 1964-85 military regime. Yet only now is the country planning a closer look at the crimes committed in those years. By November 23rd Ms Rousseff is expected to sign a law setting up a truth commission, passed by Congress in late October. Its seven members will have two years to examine murder, torture and “disappearances” perpetrated by both the government and the resistance between 1946 and 1988.
A law on freedom of information will strengthen this shift towards openness. First proposed in 2003, it was given a shove in September, when Ms Rousseff agreed to lead an international “open government initiative” with Barack Obama. Brazil’s constitution is strong on the right to information. But it had no legislation to flesh out the details, making winkling out facts a matter of persistence and luck. Documents can remain secret indefinitely.
In October Congress passed laws to make the constitution’s promise a reality. Soon the secrecy of sensitive documents will be limited to 25 years, renewable once. Those to do with human-rights abuses will have to be released immediately, and most material will have to be handed over within 30 days of a request, barring a valid reason for continued secrecy.
October 31, 2011
The Brazilian congress approved this week the creation of a Truth Committee that will look into human rights abuses from 1946 to 1988, which includes the military period from 1964 to 1985, but leaves untouched the controversial 1979 Amnesty Law that benefits military and police personnel.
The bill originally voted in the Lower House was supported in the Senate and now is waiting for the signature of President Dilma Rousseff, whom as a student leader in the early seventies suffered torture and abuse to the hands of the military dictatorship repressive organization.
The bill had been originally presented under the previous government of President Lula da Silva and Rousseff appealed to Congress to pass it in her first year of government.
October 27, 2011
AP/ABC News, 10/27/2011
Brazil’s Senate has approved the creation of a truth commission to investigate human rights abuses by the military regime that ruled Latin America’s biggest country from 1964 to 1985.
The bill creating the commission was approved Wednesday night. It was approved by the lower house Chamber of Deputies in September.
Unlike Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, Brazil has never punished military officials accused of human rights abuses during military rule.