In the News…

Posted by Vanessa Castañeda

The Amnesty Commission has delivered a report to the Rio de Janeiro State Truth Commission, identifying workers that suffered political persecution and human rights violations from the military government in the state of Rio de Janeiro. This is the first report from a series of investigations that will be delivered within the next few weeks examining workers throughout all of Brazil.

On 22 October 2014, the University of São Paulo held a discussion regarding the institution’s support of the military dictatorship after the 1964 coup. Professor of Law, Dalmo Dallari states that conservative groups began to act even before 1964. For example, famous architect Oscar Niemeyer (who built Brasília) was denied a position in the university because he was a “dangerous communist”.  Intellectuals and academic leaders who were already established faculty were also targeted by the military regime, especially in departments such as sociology and philosophy.

Although, homophobia and transphobia did not originate during Brazil’s military dictatorship, James Green (Brown University) and Renan Quinalha (São Paulo State Truth Commission) claim that the dictatorship permitted and regulated violent persecution of people identified within LGBT community.

In other news, on 4 November 2014, ex-political prisoners Maurice Politi and Flávio Tavares will present their literature at the 60th Book fair in Porto Alegre. The book fair is being put together by the Minister of Culture, the State Secretariat of Culture and the Rio-Grandense Book Chamber and will last from 31 October until 16 November 2014.  Additionally, the International Coalition of Sites of Consciousness and the Amnesty Commission will be hosting the International Congress on Memory: Foundations of Transitional Justice and Human rights in São Paulo from 2 November until 5 November 2014.

 

Posted in In the News | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the News…

Posted by Vanessa Castañeda

Pedro Dallari, President of the National Truth Commission (CNV) has stated that it is pertinent for the Armed Forces to acknowledge the human rights violations during the military dictatorship for Brazil to recover the memory, truth, and reconciliation of that time period. “The Armed Forces does not deny that their headquarters carried out human rights violations but they also do not outright acknowledge them.”

On 22 October 2014, medical doctor Cesar Ronald Pereira Gomes, former student at the Federal University of Espírito Santo (Ufes) gave his testimony at a public hearing carried out by the institution’s truth commission. Cesar was imprisoned in 1968 and was physically beaten before having sought exile in Uruguay and Argentina.

The Federal Regional Courts of Rio de Janeiro has granted the CNV access to the altered documents of former Colonel Cyro Guedes Etchegoyen. He was the head of a clandestine torture center in Petrópolis during the military dictatorship. The Commission’s access to these documents was suspended for 6 months due to an injunction put forth by the former colonel’s wife. Political blogger Roldão Arruda stated that, according to the Lei de Acesso à Informação (Law to the access of information), this type of information should have been protected for the commission’s investigations of the various violations of human rights during the dictatorship.

The São Paulo State Truth Commission and the SOS São Paulo Legislative Assembly on Racism (Alesp) gave a public hearing on the 23 October 2014 addressing the human rights violations among the indigenous during the military dictatorship. Violations include the administration of arsenic, village shootings, land appropriation and displacement.

Posted in In the News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In the News…

Posted by Vanessa Castañeda

On 14 October 2014, the minister of the Secretariat of Human rights, Ideli Salvatii, established a versatile group of researchers to accelerate the investigation of the exhumed bodies from a trench in the Peru Cemetery in São Paulo. It is believed that many of these bodies could be bodies of disappeared from the military dictatorship. The research team will have 36 months to finish the investigation.

The Museum of the Portuguese Language in São Paulo is showing an exhibition from the 14 October until 30 November 2014 called “This Newspaper is also a joke” (which is part of a larger exposition called “This Room is a Joke”, exhibited now for a number of years). The exposition is focusing on the terrible dictatorial years in honor of the 50th year anniversary since the ending of the dictatorship. The exhibition’s main objective is to offer a humorous reflection of the censorship, political persecution, and repression during the dictatorship.

At 10:30 am on 21 October 2014, the National Truth Commission (CNV) will visit and realize an investigation in the Ilha das Flores Navy Base in São Gonçalo in Rio de Janeiro. During this investigation former political prisoners as well as experts and researchers from the CNV and CEV-Rio will identify rooms in the island’s navy base that were used for torturing and imprisonment during the military dictatorship. Since November 2013, the CNV has visited several military locations that carried out torture sessions, deaths, and other violations of human rights.

Posted in In the News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elections Update: Speculations on the Future of Transitional Justice

Posted by Hilary Marie Johnson (with contributions by Rebecca Atencio)

The first round of elections, held on October 5th, showed current president Dilma Rousseff secure 41.4% of the vote and opponent Aécio Neves 33.7%, removing third contender Marina Silva. Rousseff’s inability to clench a majority will result in a second round of elections on October 26th. With Silva’s recent endorsement of Neves upon accepting her defeat and his recent momentum in the polls, an already very tight race could potentially become even tighter. While the campaigns have focused primarily on high inflation, recession, and corruption, it is curious to ponder what the election results could ultimately mean in regards to the process of transitional justice in Brazil.

Dilma rose to national prominence while serving the administration of Luiz Inácio (Lula) da Silva. One of the few high-ranking officials in the Lula administration not plagued by corruption scandals, Dilma was handpicked by the Lula himself to run for president on the Worker’s Party ticket. Rousseff’s candidacy for president in 2010 prompted the expected prodding into her involvement in opposition to and eventual imprisonment and torture by the military dictatorship, yet she mostly refrained from speaking in detail about those experiences during her campaign. Nevertheless, her inaugural presidential speech touched upon her dictatorship days, and were followed by pieces of legislation which aimed to broaden access to military-era documents. She signed the National Truth Commission into law on November 2011 by Congress and inaugurated the body the following May. In an emotional speech on the latter occasion, she proclaimed that “Brazil deserves the truth, new generations deserve the truth, and–above all–those who lost friends and relatives and who continue to suffer as if they were dying again each day deserve the truth.”

Aécio Neves, candidate of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party, was appointed by former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso. One might expect that Aécio, as grandson of Tancredo Neves, who led the opposition to the military regime and was elected the first civilian president in thirty years (although he died before taking office), would be an advocate for the kind of memory, truth, and justice regarding the dictatorship period demanded by victims, families, and human rights groups.  Yet everything indicates that an Aécio presidency would be a step backward for transitional justice in Brazil. For instance, at an event last year, he referred to the coup d’état of 1964 as a “revolution,” employing the term regime apologists use to downplay the human rights crimes of the military dictatorship (when pressed on his choice of words, Neves attempted to justify himself by claiming that revolution and dictatorship were essentially synonyms). More recently, the Clube Militar (Military Club, a stronghold of regime apologists) has declared its support for Neves in the second wave of elections. While Neves has not formally commented on the implications of this endorsement, it certainly complicates his relationship with the military dictatorship.

It is difficult to predict how the outcome of the election will impact Brazil’s transitional justice process. Reckoning with the dictatorship has not been a major campaign issue, neither candidate has proposed new transitional justice policies as part of their platform. Moreover, the National Truth Commission is set to conclude its work and release its final report on December 16, well before the presidential sash could potentially change hands. Of course, the execution of any recommendations put forth in the final report would be up to whichever candidate takes office in 2015. It is safe to assume, however, that Dilma is much more likely to move forward on those recommendations than her rival. Yet even a Worker’s Party victory does not guarantee that transitional justice policy will remain unchanged, since Dilma will likely shake up her administration with new appointments.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

In the News…

Posted by Vanessa Castañeda

The Federal University of Espírito Santo’s (Ufes) Truth Commission organized a public hearing on 9 October 2014. Oral surgeon Laura Coutinho gave her testimony of having been a tortured prisoner during the military dictatorship. She was pregnant when she was kidnapped and miscarried during a torture session. Regarding Laura’s case, Professor Ernest Fagundes says “We want to emphasize this case because of the magnitude of human rights violations. The [truth] commission is making these violations public by incorporating memory into politics so that above all else, the new generations will understand what the period of the military dictatorship was.”  Additionally, Ufes’ Truth Commission has received research reports from the Amnesty Commission. These reports include profiles of people associated with the institution who have been given amnesty as well information on persecutions and detention centers.

Pedro Dallari, President of the National Truth Commission (CNV) traveled to Madrid, Spain this week to participate in a conference and talk about the current elections in Brazil. He said the biggest challenge in finishing the Commission’s report in December is “having the military acknowledge committed abuses”.

Posted in In the News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

In the News…

Posted by Vanessa Castañeda

On the 30th September 2014 former colonel Paulo Rubens Pereira Diniz asked for amnesty from the National Truth Commission (CNV) at a hearing with the Minas Gerais Bar Association (OAB-MG) in Belo Horizonte. During his questioning he admitted to having trained a group of indigenous to fight against guerillas in the Black River Amazonian highlands. Also, he admits he would have followed through with orders to raid the Goiânia plaza, had they not been cancelled. The former colonel also claims to have helped political prisoners and states that he suffers from trauma.

This week, the Amnesty Commission and fifty educational institutions will be showing the cinematic project Mostra in Brazil, with hopes of reaching 10,800 spectators. Mostra will be showing three films: “500-os Bebês Roubados pela Ditadura Argentina” (500-the Kidnapped Children from the Argentine Dictatorship) by Alexandre Valenti, “70” by Emília Silveira and “Duas Histórias” (Two Histories) by Angela Zoe. The project, besides showing films, is creating a space to talk about Brazil’s military dictatorship within schools throughout Brazil.

Peter Ho Peng has been given the chance to vote for the first time. He was born in Hong Kong in 1949 but gained citizenship through marriage. Ho Peng was involved in student movements against the military dictatorship in the early 70s. He was imprisoned for 10 months and was on the list of disappeared for four months, in addition to being tortured in two centers in Rio de Janiero and Porto Alegre. He was stripped of his citizenship but regained it in 2012 after filing for amnesty.

Posted in In the News | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

In the News…

Posted by Vanessa Castañeda

In a federal court in São Paulo, substitute judge Rubem David Müzel rejected charges brought by prosecutors of the Federal Public Ministry against Colonel Alberto Ustra in the case of the 1971 death of journalist Luiz Merlino. Following the lead of some other judges, Müzel ruled that Ustra cannot be tried because of the 1979 Amnesty Law. During some of the harshest years of the dictatorship, Ustra served as head of the São Paulo DOI-CODI, a joint military and police command center and major torture center. Ustra has already lost a civil case; however, the ruling on that occasion did not involve punishment, but rather resulted in a declaratory sentence recognizing him as a torturer because the case was tried in civil rather than criminal court.

On 30 of September 2014, four former political prisoners (imprisoned from 1969-1971), along with researchers from the National Truth Commission (CNV) and the Minas Gerais Truth Commission visited a former torture center in Belo Horizonte. Maria Celina Pinto Albano, the coordinator of the Minas Gerais Truth Commission said, “it’s difficult, and often times it’s very painful, but we are unraveling, discovering and showing what actually happened during this period of our history.”

Posted in In the News | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment