Former President Cardoso as Possible Head of National Truth Commission?

Rumors are circulating in the blogosphere (see here and here, for example) that Dilma is looking into former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, or FHC, (1995-2002) as a possible head of the National Truth Commission.

Why Cardoso, and what would his leadership of the commission mean? According to blogger Luis Nassif, “From the perspective of Dilma’s administration, the participation of Cardoso–himself a victim of the dictatorship–would give incontestable credibility to the commission and ensure that this to settle accounts with the dictatorship won’t be used as ammunition during the next elections.” Cardoso is one of the founders of the Brazilian Social Democracy Party (PSDB), rival to Dilma’s Worker’s Party (PT).

In other words, a possible Cardoso appointment could represent another conciliatory gesture by the Dilma administration. Indeed, it is also possible that the former president’s participation could undermine rather than strengthen the commission’s credibility, since his own administration made minimal efforts to reckon with the dictatorial past. While Cardoso did take an historic step in Brazil’s transitional justice process by signing the 1995 Law of the Disappeared (which recognized state responsibility for political deaths and disappearances during the dictatorship and instituted a federal reparations program), it’s also true that the measure was widely criticized because it placed the onus of proof on the families of the victims.

Nassif identifies former Justice Minister’s José Gregori and Luiz Carlos Dias, as well as former São Paulo State Secretary of Justice Belisário dos Santos, Jr. as other possible candidates for the position.

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