On Tuesday, May 29th, political science professor Rodrigo Stumpf González (Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul/UFRGS) gave a lecture titled “Democracy in Brazil: Do Transitions Have an End?” at Tulane University. According to González, the answer to his title question is a qualified “no”: transitions are never-ending in the sense that the exit of military regime can lead to a democratic one and to the solving of some problems, but it doesn’t solve all problems. In Brazil, González points out, transition has led to democracy in a political–but not in a civil or social–sense. Noting that scholars have long debated when the Brazilian transition can be said to have begun, he proposes that we consider 2012–the year of the forming of the national truth commission–as the start date.
González also touched up recent developments in Brazil’s transitional justice process. When asked by an audience member why it has taken Brazil twenty-seven years since the military left power to institute a truth commission, the political scientist responded that he believes it is not, as many would claim, because dictatorship-era human rights violations have become more important with temporal distance, but rather because they have, in a sense, become less significant. He defends this view by pointing out that the military has less power now than in the past, and that the new generations of officers have no identification with the authoritarian regime, making them more willing to acquiesce to a truth commission.