Defense Minister General Walter Braga Netto lied this Tuesday in the Chamber of Deputies by saying that there was no military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985 in Brazil. “If there was a dictatorship, maybe a lot of people wouldn’t be here. Dictatorship, as another deputy said, is in other countries,” he said. Braga Netto’s speech was made during a session, for which he was summoned, in which he provided clarifications on a note in a threatening tone, signed by him and by the commanders of the Armed Forces to intimidate senator Omar Aziz (PSD-AM), president of the Pandemic CPI. Deputies also questioned him about a news reported in the press that stated that he used a political interlocutor to advise Chamber Speaker Arthur Lira (PP-AL) that there would be no elections in 2022 if the printed vote was rejected – which happened in last week, when the House dropped the proposal. “I reiterate that I did not send any threat, I do not communicate with the president of the Powers through interlocutors,” he said on Tuesday.
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The assertion that there was no military dictatorship has been repeated as a mantra by members of the Armed Forces. Even an official statement from the Ministry of Defense this year stated that the 1964 coup should be “celebrated” as a “movement” that allowed “to pacify the country”. All of this is a denial of history. The National Truth Commission listed 434 people dead and missing through the direct action of the dictatorship and named 377 names of people who violated human rights during the period, recommending criminal, civil and administrative accountability for 196 of that list who remain alive. The report also states that more than 8,000 indigenous people died during the period and that the dictatorship persecuted 6,591 soldiers.
Among those persecuted by the regime are, for example, journalists Vladimir Herzog —murdered in 1975—, Luiz Eduardo Merlino —murdered in 1971— and then-deputy Rubens Paiva —disappeared in 1971. There are reports of torture in the basements of the dictatorship, especially after 1968, when the regime published Institutional Act number 5 (AI-5). The decree institutionalized the political repression and terror promoted by the State, providing for the closing of Congress and the revocation of parliamentary mandates, the suspension of the political rights of any citizen, among other points. These facts were ignored by Braga Netto. “There was a strong regime, I agree with that. Both sides committed excesses, but this has to be analyzed at the time of history, the Cold War and everything else, not taking something from the past and bringing it to today,” he said on Tuesday.
This denial also serves to justify the presence of the military in the Government. They not only occupy ministries, but also more than 6,000 uniforms are spread among directors, administrative councils and managers of state companies, such as Petrobras, Itaipu, Correios and Eletrobras, accumulating their reserve pensions with their salaries.
In addition, Bolsonaro was included this month in the Supreme Court’s fake news inquiry and has since intensified his authoritarian assault on the institutions. In an interview, he even said that he would be forced to play “outside the four lines of the Constitution”. The president has been feeding the discourse that the Armed Forces must act as a moderating power, in yet another biased reading of the roles assigned by Article 142 of the Constitution. The “moderating power” thesis was repeated by retired general Augusto Heleno on Monday. In a radio interview Young pan, the GSI head opined that the judiciary, not Bolsonaro, “has put things in even greater tension”. “But I don’t believe in an intervention at the moment. This intervention could happen in a very serious case”, admitting as a possibility.
This Tuesday, however, Braga Netto tried to soothe tempers by saying that Bolsonaro acts within the “four lines of the Constitution”. It also softened the speech fueled by the Pocketnalists about the role of the Armed Forces. “The country has only three Powers: the Executive, the Legislative and the Judiciary, which have to be harmonious and independent. The Armed Force works with what is above article 142 [da Constituição]. That’s it, with no speculations and no inferences,” he said.
Regarding his defense of the printed vote and the supposed threat that there will be no elections, he had to hear from deputy Paulo Teixeira (PT), author of a crime-report against Braga Netto, the following message: “Whoever decides on the printed vote is not yours excellence. The National Congress decides, and your Excellency will obey. And if you don’t obey, you will be arrested.”
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