By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter

SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff wept Wednesday as she was handed the final report on the crimes committed during the country’s military dictatorship prepared by the Comissão Nacional da Verdade (National Truth Commission). Rousseff’s voice faltered as she spoke about the parents and friends of those who disappeared during the period.

Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff weeps as she is handed the final report from the Truth Commission about crimes committed during the country's military dictatorship, photo by José Cruz/Agencia Brasil
Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff weeps as she is handed the final report from the Truth Commission about crimes committed during the country’s military dictatorship, photo by José Cruz/Agencia Brasil.

“Brazil needs to know the truth…. and especially those who lost family members and parents and continue to suffer as they die again each passing day, need to know the truth,” said the President.

According to President Rousseff, the report will help to insure that the human rights violations committed during that period will not be repeated. “We, who believe in the truth, hope that this report will help to deal with the ghosts of a very painful and sad past so that they are no longer protected in the shadows of silence and omission,” she said. Rousseff herself was imprisoned for almost three years in the early 1970s and tortured with electric shocks.

Pedro Dallari, coordinator of the Commission said during the presentation that the final report recommends the creation of a public agency to continue the work started by the commission with investigations that may even find more victims from that period. “The number of victims in the report is clearly not a final tally,” added Dallari. The document also has 28 other recommendations.

Dallari said that the commission found that the human rights violations during the period were not conducted by a few rouge military officials, but that the practice of violent interrogations, torture and even deaths were part of the official systemic plan. “I can state, in general terms, that the most important conclusion (of the report) is the proof that not only was there a serious scenario of human rights violations but that these violations were conducted in a systematic, planned manner, organized by the Armed Forces through their chain of command,” said Dallari according to Agencia Brasil.

The report, which took almost three years to be concluded, lists 434 Brazilians who either died or ‘disappeared’ at the hands of authorities during the 1964-1985 period as well as a list of 377 officials who are said to have committed or ordered serious human rights violations. In addition the document lists locations where interrogation and torture sessions occurred.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Millions of Brazilians took to the streets between 1983 and 1984 to demand the country’s return to democracy, photo by ABr.

According to Amnesty International Brazil, “The document is an important step in the efforts by Brazil to obtain justice for crimes against humanity committed by agents of the State during the military dictatorship,” said in a press release.

Another issue highlighted by the Commission is that many of the violations proven to have taken place during the military dictatorship still occur today. According to the report “the practices of illegal and arbitrary detention, torture, execution and disappearances are no strangers to contemporary Brazil.”

This association of the past with the present, says Amnesty, is important. “By linking the impunity of the past to the serious human rights violations which persist until now, especially in the public security area, the final report of the National Truth Commission shows in a clear way how the cycle of violence is sustained by the lack of justice.”

In 1979, Brazil passed a law granting amnesty for crimes committed by those either in government or in the Armed Forces between September 2, 1961 and August 15, 1979.

In 2011 President Rousseff sanctioned a law establishing the National Truth Commission, to investigate suspected human rights abuses that occurred between 1946 and 1988 – a period which includes the 21 year rule of the military dictatorship from 1964 to 1985.


  1. Perhaps I’m overly cynical and over it….

    The President cries because 434 people were murdered (I don’t take it lightly) by right-wing thugs over a period of 21 years (20 some per year). Countless thousands more tortured. I don’t defend any of it.

    But, her standards are quite different when it’s a left-wing thug. How many has Putin disappeared or murdered or tortured. (Try being a Journalist in Russia today. Or a gay activist. Or any kind of civil rights activist). And yet she and the communist thug are the best of friends. Trade deals, mutual visits, etc.

    The communist, left-wing dictatorship in Cuba has committed countless atrocities over 65 years and the Castro’s and Madame President are the best of friends. Why she even sees fit to see Cuban Doctors serve as slaves in Brazil in order to earn the Castro’s a few thousand dollars each per month. And BNDES can make huge loans for infrastructure projects – in Cuba; not Brazil.

    Lastly, during the PT government (12 years now), how many Thousands and Thousands, not hundreds, of people have been murdered, disappeared and even tortured by their police? Aren’t Lula and Madame President just as responsible as the right-wing thugs?


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