Posted by Robyn Smith
In a rare story written in English, CNN published an online article entitled “Brazil to Shed Light On ‘Dirty War’ Abuse”, by Shasta Darlington, that attempts to summarize the purpose of the Truth Commission and transitional justice efforts. Much like articles on the matter published in Brazil, the reader finds a personal account of torture by a little-known communist supporter, references to Dilma’s part in the subversion, and quotes from officials about the importance of the Truth Commission. There is a heartbreaking story of Amelia Teles, a communist sympathizer who was imprisoned in 1972 for her beliefs, having her children forced to come in and see her broken body and a brave quote from Vladimir Herzog’s son stating the Truth Commission isn’t about revenge but about holding society accountable. All in all, a fairly standard article on transition justice in Brazil.
The article does an accurate job of summarizing how the Truth Commission came to be and the struggles around the infamous Amnesty Law, but the controversy is in what is not said. No where in the article is the United States involvement in the ‘dirty war’ addressed. The author doesn’t tell of the documents that have been found revealing the United States involvement in training the Brazilian military, there isn’t a quote from an American politician apologizing for the United States’ role. While the word “United States” cannot be found in the article, it is prevalent in the comments section. Several CNN subscribers were outraged by the lack of history on the U.S. involvement, but many more were outraged that the “commies” were trying to seek revenge. One comment went as far as to accuse Dilma of using the Truth Commission to distract from Brazil’s slow growth rate during her presidency, an interesting accusation as a common critique of the Truth Commission is that it does not receive enough attention in Brazil to be fully effective. This article, and the comments that follow it, capture some of the greatest obstacles of the Truth Commission, that of denial and ignorance.