Posted by Robyn Smith
Monday’s session informed the National Truth Commission of a little-known former prison in the municipality Corumbá in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. Following the military coup on March 31, 1964, all public figures thought to be subversives were taken the next day from the town and loaded onto a boat just off shore from Corumbá, near the Bolivian coast. The ship became home to 40+ prisons who experienced treatment and torture similar to that found in all prisons during the military dictatorship era. What makes this case unique is not simply that the torture took place off shore, but that the ship was owned by the Brazilian Navy. The Truth Commission in Mato Grosso do Sul is working to further investigate what occurred on the ship but, like many former torture centers, there are few living victims and little information written down. Corumbá is a particularly important as it served as a strong hold of communists from not only Brazil but also Argentina, Paraguay, and Bolivia as the terriority was frequently disputed by the 4 countries. The communist activity in the region made it a focal point for the dictatorship.
The National Truth Commission is in the process of creating several main points of interest and recently announced that “A Casa da Morte” (the House of Death) will be one of them. A Casa da Morte is the nickname for the Centro de Informações do Exército (the Army Information Center or CIE) in Petroplis, RJ where many a member of the resistance was tortured and killed. Agnes Etiene Romeo made the first public explanation of the center. Imprisoned there in 1971 for several months, Romeo was repeatedly raped and tortured. Due to the extensive human rights violations, the National Truth Commission is joining Rio’s state truth commission in investigating the site.
The State Truth Commission of São Paulo has begun investigating the 1969 imprisonment of Sister Maurina Borges da Silveira. Sister Maurina was not directly involved in the resistance but she did support the Armed Forces of National Liberation. She has since then passed away but her supporters hope that by telling her story justice will be served.