According to Samir Oliveira, the filing of criminal charges against Colonel Curió this week “is not an isolated fact [but rather] comes on the heels of a decision by the Brazilian Supreme Court that could be the best route toward the overturning of the Amnesty Law and the punishment of civil and military agents who tortured in the name of the Brazilian state between 1964 and 1985.”
Oliveira explains that the Supreme Court recently determined that two foreign military officers—one Uruguayan, the other Argentine—could be extradited to Argentina because the crimes for which they stand accused (relating to political disappearances) are ongoing until the bodies of the victims are located, and hence there is no statute of limitation. The decision has created an opening for trying Brazilian security agents under the same logic. According to federal prosecutor André Raupp, the charges against Curió are only a first step, and could lead to the investigation of other accused perpetrators. Whether this happens remains to be seen.
The fact that charges were filed first against Curió is symbolic because the five cases of political disappearance involved are all linked to the the extermination of a guerrilla training camp in the remote Araguaia region. Recently, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled the Brazilian State responsible for the disappearances of over 60 guerrillas in the Araguaia case and found that the 1979 Amnesty Law violated international treaties of which Brazil is a signatory. The international court’s ruling has generated external pressure on the Brazilian State to address dictatorship human rights crimes. (Thanks to Idelber for forwarding us Oliveira’s article).