Posted by Robyn Smith
In the highly publicized civil case against Colonel Carlos Alberto Bright Ustra, Ustra lost his appeal last Tuesday (14th) to over turn the decision that found him to be culpable of the torture at DOI-CODI during his time as commander there. The 1st Chamber of Private Law of the Court of São Paulo heard Ustra’s appeal and reportedly wasted no time in denying it. While this is a great continued victory for the cause to rectify the dictatorship era’s human rights violations, Ustra is still protected by the Amnesty Law in regards to criminal charges and his punishment now is seen as purely symbolic by most. He has lost a reputation that perhaps few believed to be pure, but he remains a free man in regards to his ability to live life like any other retiree.
The 22 Bienal Internacional do Livo de São Paulo, or the 22nd International Biennial of the Book of Sao Paulo, paid special attention this year to the authors that focus on the darker side of Brazil’s history. Many of these author write about the dictatorship era such as Leonencio Nossa, author of “Mata! – O Major Curió e as Guerrilhas do Araguaia” (Kill!- Major Curio and the Araguaia Guerrillas), whose ground breaking investigative journalism is being used by the Truth Commission. Other authors of note included Flavio Tavares and Paulo Moreira Leite. Tavares’ “1961 – O Gulpe Derrotado” (1961- The Coup Defeated) chronicled the coup’s failed attempt to prevent President João Goulart from taking office. Tortured and exiled himself in 1969, Taveres’ personal experience adds another element to the piece. Leite’s “A Mulher que era o General da Casa” (The Woman that was in The General’s House” which tells the story of Therezinha Zerbini and others like her who worked to help those wounded in the dictatorship and stage protests. Each of these authors brought a different piece of history that played key roles in understanding Brazil’s past. While it has been a long standing criticism that Brazil has ignored the dictatorship era, there is hope found in the honoring of these controversial authors.