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LATIN AMERICA | 05-07-2024 17:16

Lula reinstates commission to probe Brazil dictatorship crimes

President Lula orders reinstatement of a special commission on crimes during Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, which had been dissolved by his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva on Thursday reinstated a special commission created to probe dictatorship-era rights violations, which was dissolved by his far-right predecessor Jair Bolsonaro.

A presidential decree published in the government gazette overrode Bolsonaro's scrapping of the commission in 2022 and ordered "the continuation of activities."

The Special Commission on Deaths and Political Disappearances was established in 1995 to investigate crimes committed during Brazil's 1964-1985 military dictatorship, such as political repression. 

The era – long a flash point in Brazilian politics – still counts among its defenders Bolsonaro, a former Army captain who served as president from 2019 to 2022.

According to official figures, the political repression resulted in at least 434 deaths and disappearances between 1946 and 1988, tumultuous decades which included the dictatorship.

In contrast to neighbouring Argentina, which tried state actors and junta leaders for crimes committed during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, Brazil's dark chapter ended with the 1979 passage of an amnesty law.

Brazil's number of victims is considerably lower than the one left by de facto governments in other Latin American countries such as Chile (3,200) or Argentina (30,000, according to human rights organisations). 

Yet the balance does not include hundreds of militia victims created to repress agrarian conflicts or the slaughter of indigenous people while advancing in occupying territory by the State.

Bolsonaro dissolved the special commission on his second-to-last day in office, on December 30, 2022.

Rights groups have been calling for Lula to reinstate it.

Lula was criticised in March this year for cancelling events honouring victims of the 1964 military coup, when constitutional president João Goulart (1961-1964) was ousted and an authoritarian regime was installed.

The Workers' Party (PT) leader argued at the time that the coup was "already part of history" and his government would not "dwell on the matter," focusing instead on a much more recent attack on the state on January 8, 2023.

On that day, thousands of Bolsonaro supporters invaded the seats of power in Brasília – the Congress, Supreme Court and presidential offices – calling on the military to depose Lula a week after his inauguration.

Police are investigating Bolsonaro for allegedly taking part in plotting a "coup d'état" to remain in power after his election defeat in 2022.

 

– TIMES/AFP

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