Brazil commemorates 25 years of the post-dictatorship constitution

October 31, 2013

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

July 2, 2013

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

July 12, 2012

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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Brazil absorbs revelations that its nasty past isn’t so bygone

June 29, 2012

Dom Phillips – Bloomberg, 06/28/2012

The demise of Brazil’s military dictatorship in 1985, after 21 dark years, was supposed to have ended government intrusiveness in people’s lives.

But searching through government documents, the newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo has found evidence to the contrary. Papers show that Brazil’s secret service spied on both Dilma Rousseff, now the president, and her mentor and predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, from the time democracy was restored until the early 1990s.

Jose Sarney, who was president from 1985 to 1990, responded as if he had no knowledge of the surveillance. “I had determined that the SNI (National Information Service) would never do an investigation of any person,” he told Folha.

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Brazil resumes search for remains of guerrillas killed 40 yrs ago

June 11, 2012

Fox News Latino/EFE – 06/10/2012

A group of Brazilian experts will resume the search for the remains of about 70 members of the Araguaia guerrillas, the most active of the groups that took up arms against the dictatorship that ruled the country from 1964 to 1985, Agencia Brasil reported Sunday.

The members of the so-called Araguaia Working Group on Sunday traveled to the southern part of the state of Para, in the Amazon region, where in the late 1960s the guerrilla band operated and was fought and annihilated by the troops of the dictatorship.

The task of the working group, which will begin on Monday, will be to try and locate the remains of at least 70 guerrillas who were killed by the soldiers but whose bodies were never turned over to their relatives and who – human rights movements say – were buried in mass graves.

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Brazil grapples with repressive past

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.

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