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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Brazil commemorates 25 years of the post-dictatorship constitution

MercoPress, 10/31/2013

Four former Brazilian presidents Jose Sarney, Fernando Color de Mello, Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Lula da Silva were honored at a ceremony in the Senate to commemorate the 25 years of the 1988 constitution.

The four ex heads of state and other politicians received the Ulyses Guimarares medal the highest decoration of the Brazilian Congress for their contributions to the current constitution.

The constitution, the seventh in the country’s history, was promulgated on 5 October 1988, after a year and eight months of discussions by a constituent assembly elected in 1986.

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Breaking the silence in Brazil

Emma Sokoloff-Rubin – Foreign Affairs, 07/01/2013

In 1983, almost 30 years before Brazil inaugurated a truth commission to investigate the crimes of a brutal military dictatorship, seven college students put their lives on stage. The dictatorship was on the verge of collapse, but military rule was all this group had ever known.

Júlio Conte and his friends were studying theater in Porto Alegre, a city in southern Brazil. They had learned to be careful about what they said aloud. In their lifetime, nearly 500 Brazilians had been killed and 20,000 tortured by the government. Conte was tired of waiting for democracy. “Being censored makes you fight to speak,” his friend Flávio Bicca Rocha said in a recent interview.

The students captured the uncertainty and hope in Brazil at that moment by telling their own stories in a play, Bailei na Curva. The title, which means “I danced in the curve,” is slang for someone who has gotten hurt or lost his way. One of Bailei’s main characters, whose father is abducted by the military police, meets the same fate later in the play. Other characters try to make sense of their parents’ collaboration with the military, and all of them struggle with the gap between what they hear on the radio and the reality they see.

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Former Rio de Janeiro archbishop who sheltered thousands fleeing dictatorships dies at age 91

The Washington Post/The Associated Press, 07/10/2012

RIO DE JANEIRO — Rio de Janeiro’s former archbishop who provided shelter to thousands of people opposed to the military regimes that once ruled Brazil, Argentina and Chile has died at age 91.

The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro said Tuesday on its website that Eugenio de Araujo Sales died of a heart attack in his sleep late Monday.

Sales was ordained as a priest in 1943 in the northeastern city of Natal. In 1971 he became archbishop of Rio de Janeiro, a position he held until 2001 when he retired.

One year earlier, he told the O Globo newspaper that from 1976-1982 he provided shelter to close to 5,000 Brazilian opponents of Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime and political refugees fleeing the dictatorships of Argentina and Chile.

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