In The News…

Posted by Robyn Smith

Witnesses to the death and burial location of guerrilla Ruy Carlos Vieira Berbert have been found. The young member of Movimento pela Libertação Popular, died in Natividade in 1972 on the same night as Domingos Nunes da Silva, the father of three young daughters (Nair, Maria Helena and Eunice) who were at his side that night in the family house. The family home of the very ill Silva was located just behind the town’s jailhouse, where the women could hear Berbert dying. The women reported being able to here the cries of Berbert from their home while he was tortured.  Within 17 hours both men were buried right next to each other. Records showed the death of both men, but the military rewrote Berbert’s death as suicide and never informed his family. In 1992, the Commission of Political Deaths and Disappearances initiated a search for Berbert’s body but the sisters say it was in the wrong local and have offered specific instructions as to where to search next. This hope is shaded, however, by Ayram Bispo Macedo, the then Secretary of the Military Junta of Natividade, who says it is possible Berbert’s body was moved 2 years after his burial in a “Cleaning Operation”. Such operations were used to erase the evidence of the military’s torture, further suggesting Berbert’s death was not a suicide.

Following in the University of São Paulo’s footsteps, the University of Brasília (UnB) is constructing  a truth commission specifically to investigate the crimes against students and professors during the dictatorship. The commission will be made up of both students and professors and will begin with the disappearances of 3 students (Ieda Santos Delgado, Paulo de Tarso Celestino, and Honestino Guimarães). UnB is popularly considered the university that underwent the most repression during the dictatorship.

The funeral for Cardinal Dom Eugenio Sales  on July 9th brought a backlash of controversy in regards to memory in Brazil. While his funeral painted him to be a subversive who harbored refugees and helped those in need during the dictatorship, several actual members of the resistance and a few journalists have said otherwise. This group paints the Cardinal as one who turned a blind eye to the dictatorship and sought to follow its rule. He allegedly turned a child away from his door instead of saving her father who had been exiled to Brazil from Argentina, even threatening to call the police. Documents of his life show not a single eye witness account of kindness towards subversives, yet the mass media portrayed him as a fighter for democracy. Cardinal Sales has become a symbol of the continued struggle as to what is truth in Brazil.

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