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News > Brazil

Memory Must Be Preserved in Brazil, Dictatorship Victims Say

  • Tanks in the streets of Rio de Janeiro during the 1964 coup d'etat in Brazil.

    Tanks in the streets of Rio de Janeiro during the 1964 coup d'etat in Brazil. | Photo: X/ @BrianMteleSUR

Published 29 March 2024

Before leaving the presidency, Jair Bolsonaro eliminated a commission that had been investigating State terrorism since 1995.

Days before the 60th anniversary of the 1964 coup d'état, victims of the military dictatorship asked Brazilian President Lula da Silva to reinstate the Commission of Dead and Disappeared.


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The "Torture, Never Again!" group and other human rights organizations are launching campaigns to remember the coup that ousted President Joao Goulart on March 31, 1964, and ushered in a 21-year military dictatorship.

In 2023, the Lula administration launched the "Never Again Week" to preserve the victims' memory, but this year it will remain officially silent. In a recent interview, the progressive leader said he would not "stir up" the issue because he wants to "try to move the country forward." These statements have generated some criticism.

"As the daughter of political prisoners, I am dissatisfied with Lula's position," said Rosa Cantal, director of "Torture, Never Again!" in Sao Paulo and a member of the "Children and Grandchildren for Memory, Truth, and Justice" movement.

Shortly before leaving the presidency in 2023, Jair Bolsonaro eliminated the Commission of Dead and Disappeared, an institution that had been investigating State crimes since 1995. 

The relatives of dictatorship victims demand that Lula reinstate this commission so as to continue identifying remains and denouncing State terrorism.

"That's something we would like him to do," said Rose Nogueira, a 78-year-old woman who was imprisoned in 1969 and tortured and sexually harassed for nine months.

Due to her imprisonment, she was separated from her 33-day-old son, who was cared for by her mother-in-law since her husband was also sent to prison for political reasons.

"They brought my son to prison twice to threaten me. They told me they were going to burn his legs with cigarettes," recalled this former member of the National Liberation Action (ALN), a leftist organization that fought against the U.S.-backed dictatorship.

Nogueira was with fifty other women in Tiradentes prison. Among the prisoners was guerrilla fighter Dilma Rousseff, who would serve as President of Brazil from 2011 to 2016.

During her imprisonment, Nogueira became sterile due to an injection given by the military to interrupt her lactation, which resulted in puerperal infection.

"The military does not want the Commission to be installed," said Nogueira, who maintains that the Brazilian Armed Forces still believe themselves to be "a moderating power," which allows them to pressure civilian governments to this day.

Nevertheless, victims of the dictatorship are fighting to raise their voices seeking the demilitarization of the police, the creation of mechanisms against torture, the reissue of textbooks with the victims' perspective, and an end to the violence suffered by young black and poor people in the favelas.

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