By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Brazil’s Minister of Education, Ricardo Vélez Rodriguéz, said that the federal government will start to apply gradual changes in history textbooks to change how the coup d’etat of 1964 has been portrayed. The declaration by Vélez Rodriguez is just the latest controversy involving one of President Jair Bolsonaro’s cabinet members.
“There will be progressive changes [in textbooks] to the extent that a wider version of history is rescued,” Velez Rodriguéz told financial daily Valor Economico during an interviewed published on Wednesday.
According to the Minister, there was no coup d’etat in 1964 and the start of a twenty-year military dictatorship, but a ‘democratic regime of force’.
“Brazilian history shows that what occurred on March 31, 1964 was a sovereign decision of the Brazilian society. Military bases did not place President Castelo Branco in power,” said Vélez Rodriguéz during the interview.
“There was an institutional change, not a coup against the Constitution of the time, no,” he added.
According to the official, Brazilian schoolchildren need to learn the truth about that period in the country’s history.
“The role of the MEC [Ministry of Education] is to ensure the regular distribution of the textbook and to prepare the textbook in such a way that the children can have a true, real idea of what their history was,” he said.
This year, the date of March 31st was marked by criticism and protests after President Bolsonaro approved a commemorative speech to be read at military bases and barracks throughout the country on the start of the military government in 1964.
But the statement given by Vélez Rodriguez to the financial daily is just the latest controversy involving the official.
Among the statements given by Brazil’s top education official, Vélez Rodriguéz said that an university education was ‘not for everyone’, asked public schools to videotape students singing the national anthem and recite President Bolsonaro’s campaign slogan ‘Brazil Above Everyone, God Above All’, and stated that Brazilian tourists abroad act like ‘canibals’.