Memória Brasileira do Autoritarismo: Um Novo Rumo

Brazil’s Memory of Authoritarianism: A New Turn | Brasiliens Erinnerung an Autoritarismus: Eine neue Wendung

Abstract: This essay seeks to explore the shifts in Brazilian memory of the 1964-1985 regime under the presidency of Jair Bolsonaro. His positive views of the 1964-1985 authoritarian regime and use of violence by the military are the opposite of previous efforts by the Brazilian federal government to deal with the legacy of human rights violations. Amid large outcry by human rights organisations, Bolsonaro and members of his government engage in a memorialisation of the military regime based on anti-human rights rhetoric and pro-military, authoritarian ideology. The rise of right-wing populism in Brazil has put into question the transitional justice measures by successive administrations since the country’s return to democracy.
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2020-14973
Languages: Português, English, German

 


O Brasil está atravessando um período politicamente sensível. Após mais de duas décadas de projetos de verdade e reconciliação, que buscavam lidar com o uso de violência contra civis por agentes do Estado durante a ditadura transcorrida entre 1964 e 1985, o apoio à intervenção militar direta tem crescido e Jair Bolsonaro foi eleito presidente.1 Este tem uma visão positiva do regime autoritário iniciado em 1964; no passado, o político já expressou visões favoráveis a tortura e afirmou que mais oponentes deveriam ter sido assassinados pelos militares. Sua nostalgia pela ditadura de direita sintetiza o oposto do que visavam as iniciativas do governo federal brasileiro para lidar com o legado das violações de direitos humanos.

A Nostalgia de Bolsonaro

Ao longo de sua carreira política, Bolsonaro foi um apoiador manifesto da ditadura militar. Ele defende que o Brasil não passou por uma ditadura, mas por um regime militar no qual as forças armadas asseguraram a democracia e defenderam o país contra o que ele classifica como uma ameaça comunista. A seu ver, isso legitimou a tortura de dissidentes do regime. Durante os vinte e oito anos em que foi deputado federal no Congresso brasileiro, Bolsonaro foi um crítico convicto das políticas brasileiras destinadas a enfrentar o legado da ditadura. Ele repetidamente se opôs a tais projetos de reconciliação e de busca pela verdade, atacando, em múltiplas ocasiões, a Comissão Nacional da Verdade (CNV). Ele qualificou este projeto como “da farsa”, e se referiu a ele como uma “comissão da palhaçada, da mentira e da covardia”; a seu ver, trata-se de uma iniciativa que é “típica de países comunistas, socialistas e ditatoriais”. Ele também afirmou que a Comissão de Anistia brasileira dedica-se ao “revanchismo” e que estaria “perseguindo os militares que tantos serviços têm prestado à Nação” (Congresso Nacional Brasileiro – camara.leg.br).

Desde que alcançou o posto mais alto do poder executivo brasileiro, Bolsonaro tem frequentemente desdenhado acusações de violência estatal e de atos criminais perpetrados pelas forças de segurança do regime ditatorial. Ele frequentemente contradiz a literatura existente, afirmando que os eventos de 1964 não podem ser classificados como golpe de Estado e que o consequente regime não se enquadraria como uma ditadura. Em uma conversa por telefone com o presidente da Hungria, Viktor Orban, Bolsonaro reafirmou a última questão defendendo que “o povo brasileiro não sabe o que é ditadura ainda”. Em outra ocasião, ele afirmou que, no Brasil, “nunca tivemos, nas Forças Armadas, uma política de Estado repressiva dessa forma que tentam o tempo todo botar na nossa conta”.

Em poucos meses desde que assumiu a presidência, o apoio de Bolsonaro ao regime militar desencadeou vários episódios envolvendo inversões de discursos oficiais no que tange à memória desse período. Mais de uma centena de oficiais e ex-oficiais entraram para o governo Bolsonaro em cargos elevados tanto em seu primeiro quanto em seu segundo escalão, tornando as forças armadas mais influentes do que jamais foram desde o fim do regime militar brasileiro, em 1985. Fabián Salvioli, relator especial das Nações Unidas para a promoção da verdade, justiça, reparação e garantias de não repetição, foi informado oficialmente pelo Ministro de Relações Exteriores do Brasil que não houve golpe no Brasil em 1964 e que o regime militar foi necessário para lidar com uma ameaça comunista.  Neste viés, um veto anunciado por Dilma Rousseff em 2011 foi revogado em 2019, quando Bolsonaro convidou as forças armadas para comemorar o golpe, na ocasião do aniversário de 55 anos da chegada dessas ao poder.

Retórica Posta em Prática

Fator mais preocupante para os defensores dos direitos humanos, a retórica de Bolsonaro está se tornando ação política. Sua administração está ativamente desfazendo os mecanismos de justiça de transição promovidos pelo governo federal brasileiro nas três últimas décadas. Em direção contrária à concretização do direito à memória e à verdade, o governo indevidamente interfere em projetos em andamento – prejudicando os esforços destes e negligenciando o direito das vítimas à verdade, justiça e reparação. Transcorrido um ano da presidência de Bolsonaro, é fácil perceber que a Comissão de Anistia e a Comissão Especial sobre Mortos e Desaparecidos Políticos (CEMDP) estão sob ataque: a verba que permitiria realizar ações essenciais foi cortada e funcionários e comissários foram, em mais de uma situação, realocados. Estes sinais precoces indicam que outras tentativas de minar as políticas brasileiras de memória pública e de romper com os discursos pró-direitos humanos dessas iniciativas podem ser esperados, provavelmente em benefício de uma interpretação do passado que busca legitimar um governo militarizado de linha dura.

A CEMDP monitora esforços para encontrar os restos mortais de vítimas do regime, o que inclui investigações para localizar os cadáveres dos assassinados na região do Araguaia e para identificar aqueles exumados da vala comum situada no cemitério de Perus. Esses esforços foram afetados por cortes orçamentários implementados logo nos primeiros meses da presidência de Bolsonaro. O financiamento de análises forenses foi cortado e um time de trinta pesquisadores foi demitido. Além disso, membros nomeados pelo governo Bolsonaro para o conselho do CEMDP são abertamente pró-militarismo e já haviam criticado o trabalho da comissão nas redes sociais.

Interferência semelhante tem sido observada na Comissão de Anistia. Indivíduos que defendem publicamente ideias incompatíveis com os direitos humanos e com os objetivos da comissão foram nomeados membros de seu conselho. Devido à suspeita da parte da administração atual de irregularidades na comissão, está prevista a revisão de decisões anteriores. Centenas de organizações da sociedade civil e cidadãos assinaram o ‘Manifesto em defesa dos direitos das vítimas de perseguição política na ditadura civil-militar brasileira’ e o ‘Manifesto pela Anistia’, contra uma agenda de desmonte da memória da ditadura militar. Enquanto isso, aliados próximos de Bolsonaro pediram a revisão de livros didáticos de história para garantir que uma perspectiva pró-regime ditatorial seja ensinada nas escolas.

O presidente Bolsonaro apoia um policiamento agressivo e já apoiou a pena de morte, a castração química de estupradores e a diminuição da idade de responsabilidade criminal de menores. Ele também propôs o afrouxamento de leis de posse de armas e que fossem dificultadas a investigação e condenação de casos de assassinatos extrajudiciais cometidos por oficiais das forças de segurança pública. Se implementadas, essas leis aumentarão a probabilidade de novas ocorrências dos tipos de violações aos direitos humanos que ocorriam no passado autoritário do Brasil.

Sobre o Entendimento de Bolsonaro

A perspectiva de Bolsonaro é revisionista e negacionista. Chamar uma ditadura de outros nomes é uma tentativa de mudar os fatos e reescrever a história por meio da mudança das palavras e expressões usadas para falar sobre o passado. Entretanto, se acreditamos que a história pode apresentar conhecimento factual confiável e explicações convincentes e empiricamente fundamentadas, sabemos então que nem todas as interpretações têm o mesmo valor. As tentativas de Bolsonaro de justificar os crimes dos militares e de reescrever a interpretação da história não se baseiam em evidências, mas apoiam-se em explicações que foram refutadas por historiadores e pelas iniciativas de verdade e reconciliação do governo. Enquanto a interpretação correta da história não pode ser totalmente determinada pela referência aos meros fatos, certas interpretações podem certamente ser rejeitadas com base em fatos; a de Bolsonaro é uma destas.

As atrocidades cometidas durante o regime autoritário, narradas e memorializadas pelas comissões do governo e organizações acadêmicas, políticas e da sociedade civil, de fato ocorreram. Não há justificativa para a manipulação de fatos históricos ou para falsas interpretações formuladas para enganar outros. Ainda que a validade da maior parte das reivindicações históricas não possa ser apontada a priori, há limites: nem todas as interpretações do passado são igualmente válidas. Evidências e sua interpretação histórica mostram que houve um regime autoritário no Brasil e que este foi agente e apoiador de violações aos direitos humanos. Negar estes fatos é incorrer em negacionismo e gera uma interpretação errônea e tendenciosa (orientada por valores) do passado.

Bolsonaro e seus aliados próximos podem não negar as violações aos direitos humanos durante o período militar, mas as medidas que seu governo tem tomado contribuem pra essa negação porque reconstroem a memória da ditadura a partir de uma leitura favorável ao uso da força contra militantes de esquerda. Esta administração mudou a perspectiva que é apresentada, alterou as iniciativas e seus orçamentos ou mesmo suspendeu o processo de lidar com a memória do passado ditatorial brasileiro. Lidar com o passado nunca é um projeto concluído. Nos últimos anos, a ascensão do populismo de direita e limitações nas medidas de justiça de transição impostas por administrações sucessivas colocaram em questão a compreensão de longa data, compartilhada por diversos acadêmicos, de que a batalha de memória havia sido ganha pela esquerda.

O que realmente torna as iniciativas de justiça de transição no Brasil importantes e urgentes como estudo de caso é o fato de que, depois que projetos para lidar com o passado haviam sido implementados e o ajuste de contas estava bem encaminhado, perspectivas revisionistas e negacionistas ganharam força na sociedade. Ainda que sempre tenham existido brasileiros que mantinham, no âmbito privado, uma visão positiva do regime militar, manifestações públicas a favor deste são um movimento novo. Em 2014, o ano em que a Comissão Nacional da Verdade concluiu suas investigações sobre crimes contra a humanidade cometidos por representantes do regime durante a ditadura, milhares de manifestantes pró-militarismo pediram uma nova intervenção militar. No carnaval de 2018, o bloco de rua “Porão do DOPS” foi organizado em São Paulo visando comemorar o sistema repressivo do regime, com um material de divulgação que homenageava indivíduos responsáveis pela tortura de dissidentes. O evento foi cancelado, seguindo ordens judiciais. De modo ainda mais expressivo, em 2018 o político ultraconservador de extrema direita Jair Bolsonaro foi eleito presidente do Brasil. Sua ascensão ao poder indica que o grande público não adotou uma interpretação comum da experiência autoritária e de seu legado de abuso de direitos humanos. Uma grande parcela da sociedade brasileira permanece indiferente a tal retórica autoritária.

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Leitura adicional

  • Archdiocese of São Paulo. Torture in Brazil: A Shocking Report on the Pervasive Use of Torture by Brazilian Military Governments, 1964-1979. Austin: University of Texas, 1986.
  • D’Araújo, Maria Celina. Fifty Years since the Military Coup: Taking Stock of Brazilian Democracy. CMI – Chr. Michelsen Institute, 2014.
  • Quadrat, Samantha Viz. “The Skirmish of Memories and Political Violence in Dictatorial Brazil.” In The Struggle for Memory in Latin America: Recent History and Political Violence, edited by Eugenia Allier and Emilio Crenzel. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Recursos da web

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[1] Um estudo de 2014 afirma que quase metade da população adulta acharia um golpe militar justificável em uma situação de altos níveis de corrupção. Em 2016, a Latinobarómetro apresentou um índice de apoio à democracia de 32%. As forças armadas têm consistentemente sido consideradas a instituição mais confiável do Brasil, à frente de todos os órgãos políticos do país.

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Créditos da imagem

O presidente Jair Bolsonaro chega ao Ministério da Defesa © 2019 Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil.

Citação recomendada

lecker de Almeida, Gisele: Memória Brasileira do Autoritarismo: Um Novo Rumo. In: Public History Weekly 8 (2020) 2, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2020-14973.

Responsabilidade editorial

Moritz Hoffmann / Marko Demantowsky (Team Basel)

Brazil is going through a politically sensitive time. After over two decades of truth and reconciliation projects, which sought to deal with the use of violence against civilians by state agents during the 1964-1985 dictatorship, support for direct military intervention has been on the rise while Jair Bolsonaro was elected president in 2018.[1] The Brazilian incumbent holds positive views of the 1964-1985 authoritarian regime; he has in the past expressed his favourable views on torture claiming more opponents should have been killed by the military. His nostalgia for the right-wing dictatorship epitomises the opposite of the Brazilian government’s initiatives to come to terms with the legacy of human rights violations.

Bolsonaro’s Nostalgia

Throughout his political career, Bolsonaro has been an unequivocal supporter of the military dictatorship. He maintains that Brazil did not have a military dictatorship but a military regime in which the Armed Forces safeguarded democracy and defended the country against what he classifies as a communist threat. In his view, this legitimised the torture of dissidents. During his twenty-eight years as Federal Deputy in the Brazilian Congress, Bolsonaro was a staunch critic of the Brazilian policies addressing the legacies of the dictatorship. Time and again, he opposed such truth and reconciliation projects, frequently attacking the Comissão Nacional da Verdade (Brazil’s national truth commission). He deemed the project “farcical,” branding it “a commission of clowns, lies and cowardice” and “typical of communist, socialist and dictatorial countries.” He also affirmed that Brazil’s Amnesty Commission is devoted to “vendettas” and to “persecuting the military, which provided so much to the Nation” (Brazilian National Congress – camara.leg.br).

Since his appointment to Brazil’s highest office, Bolsonaro has frequently played down charges of state-sponsored violence and widespread criminal conduct among the regime’s security forces. He often contradicts established accounts, affirming that the events of 1964 cannot be classified as a coup d’État nor the ensuing regime as a dictatorship. During a telephone conversation with Hungary’s President Viktor Orban, Bolsonaro reiterated the last point by claiming that “Brazilians do not know what dictatorship is.” On another occasion, he has claimed that the regime “never had a repressive state policy as is often portrayed.”

In the first few months after taking office, Bolsonaro’s support for the military regime led to several reversals in the official discourse in relation to the memory of the military regime. Over a hundred military officials or former officials have joined the Bolsonaro government in senior positions in the first and second tiers of government, making the Armed Forces more influential than ever since the end of Brazil’s military regime in 1985. Fabián Salvioli (Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition of the United Nations) was officially informed by the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs that there was no coup in Brazil in 1964 and that the military regime was needed to avert the impending communist threat. A veto issued by Dilma Rousseff in 2011 was reversed in 2019, when Bolsonaro called on the Armed Forces to commemorate the coup, 55 years after the military seized power.

Rhetoric Turned into Action

More concerning for human rights advocates, Bolsonaro’s rhetoric is turning into political action. His administration is actively undoing the transitional justice mechanisms implemented by the Brazilian federal government in the past three decades. In stark contrast to the provisions introduced to protect the right to memory and truth, the government unduly interferes with ongoing projects—hindering their efforts and disregarding victims’ rights to truth, justice and reparations. One year into Bolsonaro’s presidency, it is easy to see that the Amnesty Commission and the Comissão Especial sobre Mortos e Desaparecidos Políticos (CEMDP) are under attack: funding for essential actions has been cut and staff and commissioners have been reshuffled more than once. These early signs indicate that further attempts to undermine Brazilian public memory policies and to disrupt pro-human rights discourses are to be expected, most likely in favour of an interpretation of the past that seeks to legitimise a hard-line, militarised government.

CEMDP oversees efforts to locate the remains of regime victims, including inquiries to locate the remains of those killed in the Araguaia region and into remains exhumed from the unmarked mass grave at Perus cemetery. These efforts have been affected by budgetary cuts implemented during the first few months of Bolsonaro’s presidency. Funding for forensic analyses was slashed and a team of thirty researchers dismissed. Members appointed by the Bolsonaro government to CEMDP’s board are openly pro-military and have previously criticised the commission’s work.

Similar disruption has been observed in the Amnesty Commission. Individuals who publicly defend ideas incompatible with human rights and the commission’s objectives have been appointed to the commission’s board. Because the current administration is suspected of wrongdoing in the commission, past decisions are due to be audited. Hundreds of civil society organisations and citizens have signed the “Manifesto in Defence of the Rights of Victims of Political Persecution during the Brazilian Civil-Military Dictatorship” and the ‘Manifesto for the Amnesty’ against an agenda of dismantling the memory of the military dictatorship. Meanwhile, close allies of Mr. Bolsonaro have called for a review of history textbooks to ensure a pro-regime perspective of the dictatorship period is taught in schools.

President Bolsonaro supports aggressive policing and the death penalty, the chemical castration of rapists and lowering the age of criminal responsibility for minors. He has also proposed relaxing gun ownership laws and making it more difficult to investigate and condemn cases of extrajudicial killings by officials in the security forces. If implemented, these laws will increase the likelihood of human rights violations similar to those of Brazil’s authoritarian past recurring.

Bolsonaro’s Views

Bolsonaro’s perspectives are revisionist and negationist. Calling a “dictatorship” anything but that is an attempt to change the facts and rewrite history by changing the language used to talk about the past. However, if we believe history can deliver dependable factual knowledge, empirically-grounded and convincing explanations, then we know that not all interpretations hold the same value. Bolsonaro’s efforts to justify the crimes of the military and to rewrite historical interpretation have no factual basis and rely on explanations that have been refuted by historians and the government’s truth and reconciliation initiatives. While the correct historical interpretation cannot be fully determined by referring to bare facts, certain interpretations can certainly be rejected on the basis of facts. Bolsonaro’s is one of them.

The atrocities committed during the authoritarian regime, as narrated and memorialised by government commissions, academics as well as political and civil society organisations, took place. There is no excuse for the manipulation of historical facts or false interpretations construed to mislead others. Even though the validity of most historical claims cannot be designated a priori, there are limits: not all interpretations of the past are equally valid. Both the available evidence and its historical interpretation show that there was an authoritarian regime in Brazil and that it was an agent and supporter of human rights violations. To deny these facts is to perpetuate negationism and produces a misconstrued, partisan (value-driven) interpretation of the past.

Mr. Bolsonaro and his close allies may not deny there were human rights violations during the military period, but their attitude contributes toward a denial because they reconstruct the memory of the dictatorship from a perspective that looks favourably on the use of violence against leftist militants. This administration has altered the perspective being presented, has tweaked the initiatives and their budgets or has even halted the process of reappraising Brazil’s dictatorial past and its commemoration. Dealing with the past is never a finished project. In recent years, the rise of right-wing populism and the limitations on transitional justice measures imposed by successive administrations have questioned the long-held understanding shared by so many scholars that the battle of memory has been won by the left.

What makes the transitional justice initiatives in Brazil such an important and urgent case study is that after projects for coming to terms with the past were implemented and reappraisal was well underway, revisionist and negationist perspectives have meanwhile gained traction in society. Although sections of Brazilian society have privately held positive views of the regime, public manifestations in favour of the military regime are a new development. In 2014, when the CNV concluded its inquiries into the crimes against humanity committed by regime representatives during the dictatorship, thousands of pro-military demonstrators called for a new political intervention by the military. In 2018, a carnival street party, Porão do DOPS (DOPS Basement), commemorating the regime’s repressive system, was organised in São Paulo. Its promotional material paid tribute to individuals responsible for torturing dissidents. The gathering was eventually cancelled following judicial orders. Even more significantly, in 2018 the ultra-conservative, far-right politician Jair Bolsonaro was elected Brazil’s president. His rise to power indicates that the wider public has not embraced a shared interpretation of the authoritarian experience and its legacy of human rights abuse. A large section of Brazilian society remains indifferent to such authoritarian rhetoric.

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Further Reading

  • Archdiocese of São Paulo. Torture in Brazil: A Shocking Report on the Pervasive Use of Torture by Brazilian Military Governments, 1964-1979. Austin: University of Texas, 1986.
  • D’Araújo, Maria Celina. Fifty Years since the Military Coup: Taking Stock of Brazilian Democracy. CMI – Chr. Michelsen Institute, 2014.
  • Quadrat, Samantha Viz. “The Skirmish of Memories and Political Violence in Dictatorial Brazil.” In The Struggle for Memory in Latin America: Recent History and Political Violence, edited by Eugenia Allier and Emilio Crenzel. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Web Resources

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[1] A 2014 study claims that almost half of adult Brazilians would find a military coup justified amid high corruption. in 2016, Latinobarómetro showed that support for democracy was at 32%. The Armed Forces have consistently been found to be Brazil’s most trusted institution, ahead of any of the country’s political bodies.

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Image Credits

O presidente Jair Bolsonaro chega ao Ministério da Defesa © 2019 Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil.

Recommended Citation

lecker de Almeida, Gisele: Brazil’s Memory of Authoritarianism: A New Turn. In: Public History Weekly 8 (2020) 2, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2020-14973.

Editorial Responsibility

Moritz Hoffmann / Marko Demantowsky (Team Basel)

Brasilien durcherlebt eine politisch heikle Zeit. Nach mehr als zwei Jahrzehnten der Wahrheits- und Versöhnungsprojekte, die sich mit der Anwendung von Gewalt gegen die Zivilbevölkerung durch staatliche Stellen während der Diktatur von 1964-1985 befassen wollten, ist die Unterstützung für direkte militärische Interventionen gestiegen, und Jair Bolsonaro wurde 2018 zum Präsidenten gewählt.[1] Der neue Amtsinhaber hat eine positive Einstellung zum autoritären Regime von 1964-1985; er hat sich in der Vergangenheit positiv über Folter geäußert und behauptet, dass mehr Gegner vom Militär hätten getötet werden sollen. Seine Nostalgie für die rechte Diktatur verkörpert das Gegenteil der Initiativen der brasilianischen Bundesregierung zur Aufarbeitung von Menschenrechtsverletzungen und deren Vermächtnis.

Bolsonaros Nostalgie

Während seiner gesamten politischen Karriere ist Bolsonaro ein klarer Befürworter der Militärdiktatur geblieben. Er behauptet, dass es in Brasilien keine Militärdiktatur gab, sondern ein Militärregime, in dem die Streitkräfte die Demokratie bewahrten und das Land gegen das verteidigten, was er als kommunistische Bedrohung einstuft. Seiner Ansicht nach legitimierte dies die Folter von Dissident*innen. Während seiner 28-jährigen Tätigkeit als Bundesabgeordneter im brasilianischen Kongress war Bolsonaro ein entschiedener Kritiker der brasilianischen Politik im Umgang mit dem Erbe der Diktatur. Immer wieder widersetzte er sich solchen Wahrheits- und Versöhnungsprojekten und griff bei vielen Gelegenheiten die Comissão Nacional da Verdade (Brasiliens nationale Wahrheitskommission) an. Er bezeichnete das Projekt als “Farce,” als “eine Kommission von Clowns, der Lügen und der Feigheit,” als Unterfangen, das “typisch für kommunistische, sozialistische und diktatorische Länder” sei. Er bekräftigte auch, dass sich die brasilianische Amnestiekommission den “Rachefeldzügen” und der “Verfolgung des Militärs, das der Nation so viel gegeben hat” (Brasilianischer Nationalkongress) verschrieben habe.

Seit seiner Wahl in das höchste Amt Brasiliens hat Bolsonaro häufig die Vorwürfe staatlich geförderter Gewalt und der weit verbreiteten Kriminalität unter den Sicherheitskräften des Regimes verharmlost. Er widerspricht oft der einschlägigen Literatur und betont, dass die Ereignisse von 1964 weder als Staatsstreich noch das darauf folgende Regime als Diktatur eingestuft werden können. Während eines Telefongesprächs mit Ungarns Präsident Viktor Orban wiederholte Bolsonaro den letzten Punkt mit der Behauptung, dass “die Brasilianer nicht wissen, was eine Diktatur ist”. Bei einer anderen Gelegenheit hat er behauptet, dass das Regime “nie eine repressive Staatspolitik betrieben hat, wie sie oft dargestellt wird”.

Bolsonaros Unterstützung für das Militärregime hat in den wenigen Monaten seit seinem Amtsantritt wiederholt dazu geführt, dass die offiziellen Diskurse zur Erinnerung an das Militärregime sich ins Gegenteil wandten. Mehr als hundert Beamte und ehemalige Beamte haben sich der Bolsonaro-Regierung in leitenden Positionen der ersten und zweiten Regierungsebene angeschlossen, wodurch die Streitkräfte so einflussreich wie nie zuvor seit dem Ende des brasilianischen Militärregimes im Jahr 1985 geworden sind. Fabián Salvioli (Sonderberichterstatter für die Förderung von Wahrheit, Gerechtigkeit, Wiedergutmachung und Garantien für die Nicht-Wiederholung der Vereinten Nationen) wurde vom brasilianischen Außenministerium offiziell darüber informiert, dass es 1964 in Brasilien keinen Staatsstreich gab und dass das Militärregime notwendig war, um einer kommunistischen Bedrohung zu begegnen. Ein Veto, das Dilma Rousseff 2011 abgegeben hatte, wurde 2019 aufgehoben, als Bolsonaro die Streitkräfte aufforderte, anlässlich des 55. Jahrestages ihrer Machtübernahme dem Putsch zu gedenken.

Rhetorik, in Taten umgesetzt

Für Menschenrechtsverfechter*innen ist es eher besorgniserregend, dass Bolsonaros Rhetorik nun in politische Aktion umschlägt. Seine Regierung macht die von der brasilianischen Bundesregierung in den vergangenen drei Jahrzehnten eingeführten Mechanismen der Übergangsjustiz aktiv zunichte. Entgegen den Bestimmungen des Rechts auf Erinnerung und Wahrheit mischt sich die Regierung in unangemessener Weise in laufende Projekte ein, indem sie deren Bemühungen behindert und die Rechte der Opfer auf Wahrheit, Gerechtigkeit und Wiedergutmachung missachtet. Ein Jahr nach der Wahl Bolsonaros ist es leicht zu erkennen, dass die Amnestiekommission und die Comissão Especial sobre Mortos e Desaparecidos Políticos (CEMDP) angegriffen werden: Die Mittel für wesentliche Maßnahmen wurden gekürzt, das Personal und die Kommissar*innen mehr als einmal neu besetzt. Diese ersten Anzeichen deuten darauf hin, dass weitere Versuche zu erwarten sind, die brasilianische Politik des öffentlichen Gedenkens zu untergraben und die menschenrechtsfreundlichen Diskurse der Initiativen zu stören, höchstwahrscheinlich zugunsten einer Interpretation der Vergangenheit, die versucht, eine harte, militarisierte Regierung zu legitimieren.

Die CEMDP beaufsichtigt die Bemühungen, die Überreste der Opfer des Regimes ausfindig zu machen, einschließlich Untersuchungen zur Lokalisierung der Überreste der in der Region Araguaia getöteten Personen und der aus dem nicht gekennzeichneten Massengrab auf dem Friedhof von Perus exhumierten Überreste. Diese Bemühungen wurden durch die in den ersten Monaten von Bolsonaros Präsidentschaft durchgeführten Haushaltskürzungen beeinträchtigt. Die Mittel für forensische Analysen wurden gekürzt, und ein Team von dreißig Forscher*innen wurde entlassen. Die von der Regierung Bolsonaro in den Vorstand der CEMDP berufenen Mitglieder sind offen pro-militärisch eingestellt und haben zuvor die Arbeit der Kommission kritisiert.

Ähnliche Behinderungen wurden in der Amnestiekommission beobachtet. Personen, die öffentlich Ideen verteidigen, die mit den Menschenrechten und den Zielen der Kommission unvereinbar sind, wurden in den Vorstand der Kommission ernannt. Aufgrund eines Verdachts der derzeitigen Verwaltung auf Fehlverhalten in der Kommission sollen frühere Entscheidungen überprüft werden. Hunderte zivilgeschaftliche Organisationen und Bürgerinitiativen haben das “Manifest zur Verteidigung der Rechte von Opfern politischer Verfolgung während der brasilianischen zivil-militärischen Diktatur” gegen eine Agenda der “Demontage der Erinnerung an die Militärdiktatur” unterzeichnet. Unterdessen haben enge Verbündete von Bolsonaro eine Überprüfung der Geschichtsbücher gefordert, um sicherzustellen, dass in den Schulen eine regimefreundliche Perspektive der Diktaturzeit vermittelt wird.

Präsident Bolsonaro unterstützt eine aggressive Polizeiarbeit und hat sich für die Todesstrafe, die chemische Kastration von Vergewaltigern und die Herabsetzung des Strafmündigkeitsalters von Minderjährigen eingesetzt. Er hat auch vorgeschlagen, die Gesetze zum Waffenbesitz zu lockern und die Untersuchung und Verurteilung von Fällen außergerichtlicher Tötungen durch Beamte der Sicherheitskräfte zu erschweren. Wenn diese Gesetze umgesetzt werden, wird die Wahrscheinlichkeit eines erneuten Auftretens jener Menschenrechtsverletzungen, die in der autoritären Vergangenheit Brasiliens aufgetreten sind, steigen.

Bolsonaros Ansichten

Bolsonaros Ansichten sind revisionistisch und negationistisch. Eine “Diktatur” als etwas anders zu benennen als was sie in Tat und Wahrheit ist, ist ein Versuch, die Fakten zu ändern und die Geschichte neu zu schreiben, indem man die Sprache ändert, in der über die Vergangenheit gesprochen wird. Wenn wir jedoch glauben, dass Geschichte verlässliches Faktenwissen, empirisch fundierte und überzeugende Erklärungen liefern kann, dann wissen wir, dass nicht alle Interpretationen den gleichen Wert haben. Bolsonaros Versuche, die Verbrechen des Militärs zu rechtfertigen und die historische Interpretation neu zu schreiben, stützen sich auf keinerlei faktischen Beweise. Ebenso sind seine Ansichten und Erklärungen von Historiker*innen und den Wahrheits- und Versöhnungsinitiativen widerlegt worden. Während die richtige historische Interpretation nicht vollständig durch den Verweis auf die nackten Tatsachen bestimmt werden kann, können bestimmte Interpretationen auf der Grundlage von Fakten sicherlich abgelehnt werden. Eine davon ist Bolsonaros.

Die während des autoritären Regimes begangenen Gräueltaten wurden von Regierungskommissionen, Wissenschaftler*innen und politischen und zivilgesellschaftlichen Organisationen festgehalten und in Erinnerung gerufen; sie haben stattgefunden. Es gibt keine Entschuldigung für die Manipulation historischer Fakten oder falsche Interpretationen, die konstruiert wurden, um andere in die Irre zu führen. Auch wenn die Gültigkeit der meisten historischen Behauptungen nicht a priori benannt werden kann, gibt es Grenzen: nicht alle Interpretationen der Vergangenheit haben die gleiche Gültigkeit. Die Beweise und ihre historische Interpretation zeigen, dass es in Brasilien ein autoritäres Regime gab, das Menschenrechtsverletzungen sowohl beging als auch unterstützte. Diese Tatsachen zu leugnen, ist negationistisch und führt zu einer falsch verstandenen, parteiischen (wertegeleiteten) Interpretation der Vergangenheit.

Bolsonaro und seine engen Verbündeten bestreiten nicht, dass es während der Militärzeit Menschenrechtsverletzungen gab. Seine Regierung hat die dargestellte Perspektive verändert, die Initiativen und ihre Budgets justiert oder sogar die Aufarbeitung der diktatorischen Vergangenheit Brasiliens gestoppt. Die Aufarbeitung der Vergangenheit ist nie ein abgeschlossenes Projekt. In den letzten Jahren haben der wachsende Rechtspopulismus und die von aufeinander folgenden Regierungen der Übergangsjustiz auferlegten Beschränkungen das lange Zeit von so vielen Wissenschaftler*innen geteilte Verständnis in Frage gestellt, dass der Kampf um Erinnerung von der Linken gewonnen wurde.

Was die Initiativen zur Übergangsjustiz in Brasilien als Fallbeispiel wirklich wichtig und dringend macht, ist die Tatsache, dass nach der Umsetzung von Projekten zur Vergangenheitsbewältigung und der Aufarbeitung, die auf gutem Wege war, revisionistische und negationistische Perspektiven in der Gesellschaft an Boden gewonnen haben. Obwohl es immer schon Brasilianer*innen gab, die insgeheim dem Regime gegenüber positiv eingestellt waren, sind öffentliche Bekundungen zugunsten des Militärregimes eine neue Entwicklung. Im Jahr 2014, als die CNV ihre Untersuchungen zu den von Regimevertreter*innen während der Diktatur begangenen Verbrechen gegen die Menschlichkeit abschloss, forderten Tausende von pro-militärischen Demonstrant*innen eine neue politische Intervention des Militärs. Im Jahr 2018 wurde in São Paulo ein Karneval-Straßenfest Porão do DOPS (DOPS Keller) zum Gedenken an das repressive System des Regimes organisiert. Mit ihrem Werbematerial wurden die für die Folter von Dissident*innen verantwortlichen Personen geehrt. Die Veranstaltung wurde jedoch auf gerichtliche Anordnung hin abgesagt. Noch bedeutender ist, dass 2018 der ultrakonservative rechtsextreme Politiker Jair Bolsonaro zum Präsidenten Brasiliens gewählt wurde. Sein Aufstieg an die Macht zeigt, dass in der breiten Öffentlichkeit keine gemeinsame Auslegung der autoritären Erfahrung und ihr Vermächtnis der Menschenrechtsverletzungen besteht. Ein großer Teil der brasilianischen Gesellschaft steht einer solchen autoritären Rhetorik nach wie vor gleichgültig gegenüber.

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Literaturhinweise

  • Archdiocese of São Paulo. Torture in Brazil: A Shocking Report on the Pervasive Use of Torture by Brazilian Military Governments, 1964-1979. Austin: University of Texas, 1986.
  • D’Araújo, Maria Celina. Fifty Years since the Military Coup: Taking Stock of Brazilian Democracy. CMI – Chr. Michelsen Institute, 2014.
  • Quadrat, Samantha Viz. “The Skirmish of Memories and Political Violence in Dictatorial Brazil.” In The Struggle for Memory in Latin America: Recent History and Political Violence, edited by Eugenia Allier and Emilio Crenzel. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.

Webressourcen

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[1] Eine Studie aus dem Jahr 2014 behauptet, dass fast die Hälfte der erwachsenen Brasilianer*innen einen Militärputsch im Kontext hoher Korruption für gerechtfertigt halten würde. Gemäß Latinobarómetro lag die Unterstützung für die Demokratie im Jahr 2016 bei 32%. Die Streitkräfte haben sich durchweg als die vertrauenswürdigste Institution Brasiliens erwiesen, vor allen anderen politischen Organen des Landes.

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Abbildungsnachweis

O presidente Jair Bolsonaro chega ao Ministério da Defesa © 2019 Marcelo Camargo/Agência Brasil.

Empfohlene Zitierweise

lecker de Almeida, Gisele: Brasiliens Erinnerung an Autoritarismus: Eine neue Wendung. In: Public History Weekly 8 (2020) 2, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2020-14973.

Redaktionelle Verantwortung

Moritz Hoffmann / Marko Demantowsky (Team Basel)

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The assessments in this article reflect only the perspective of the author. PHW considers itself as a pluralistic debate journal, contributions to discussions are very welcome. Please note our commentary guidelines (https://public-history-weekly.degruyter.com/contribute/).


Categories: 8 (2020) 2
DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1515/phw-2020-14973

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3 replies »

  1. To all our non-English speaking readers we recommend the automatic DeepL-Translator for 8 European languages. Just copy and paste.

    Many thanks for your important and disturbing post on developments in recent years in Brazil. These are very clearly very worrying times for those committed to human rights models of social and political organization and due process.

    I wonder how far historians can help us out of this situation, however. If this were simply a matter of denying facts, that could be shown to be false, then things would be relatively simple: one could simply repeatedly show that the governments narratives were false because based in false claims and one could repeatedly challenge the government to justify their claims evidentially in the public sphere.

    What happens, however, if what is at stake is a political judgment and perceptions of what is right based in normative and ideological assumptions? A government might seek to justify past political violence, for example, by arguing that it was morally right. We might deplore this and argue against it using human rights and other normative principles but not by appealining to facts about the past alone.

    How far would you regard this as a situation that can be remedied through methodologically robust historical thinking, on the one hand, or one that can be remedied through political arguments about the values that should govern public life, on the other?

  2. To all our non-English speaking readers we recommend the automatic DeepL-Translator for 8 European languages. Just copy and paste.

    Author’s Reply

    Things are really not very black and white in Brazil at the moment. Bolsonaro behaves quite erratically, sometimes he affirms that torturers are heroes, and other times he might raise questions over whether a particular person was really killed by the regime, when the crime is a fact already acknowledged by the Brazilian truth commission. Another side of this problem is the fact that Bolsonaro is currently in conflict with the mainstream media. He does not answer questions, not even about the economy–let alone human rights and other themes that he simply does not seem to care about. What I am trying to say is that historians can and do point out the incongruences in his arguments, but there is no response, either from Bolsonaro himself or the government.

    So I think in contemporary Brazil we are facing a very real danger of polarised discourses, at opposing ends of the political spectrum, which are simply not building a common language and common past so that further understanding can take place.

    The questions you asked, Arthur, are very interesting. My interpretation is that we need to build bridges at the moment. How much could historians help at that? Brazilian historians have become much more present in society in the past 5-10 years than they had ever been. They blog, vlog, speak out on social media and even comment on present developments in evening news shows.[1] That is certainly an interesting development. But I am not convinced the need to build bridges is at the heart of everyone’s efforts.

    I think there is certainly a shift going on in the values that are considered important to govern public life, but unfortunately the side that won the election is the one with the alternative values: pro-torture, anti-LGBTs, happy to indoctrinate uncontacted indigenous tribes, etc. Bolsonaro’s election took place under quite unique circumstances (on the back of an impeachment, severe economic crisis, to mention only the most clear of examples of the current government’s anti-human rights perspective.) and the knife attack he suffered while on the campaign trail meant he did not take part in any of the debates. So, again, normal political channels to discuss and expand on views and values did not exist.

    [1] If you want to know more about Brazilian historians’ efforts to engage with a wider public, see https://bit.ly/3aPjQ9V (last accessed 16 March 2020).

  3. To all our non-English speaking readers we recommend the automatic DeepL-Translator for 8 European languages. Just copy and paste.

    What I conclude from your comment is that the framing of my initial response was a little naïve, or, at least, somewhat anachronistic. I think you are right. ‘Post-truth’ populism is, perhaps, as much about refusing to play by traditional rules as anything else. In a context like that the notion of ‘the public sphere’, modelled as a forum for rational debate, is somewhat irrelevant. If politics becomes about performance, assertion and trying to shift the terms of debate by rhetorical means, then the notion that one might call a populist to account on matters of fact is simply mistaken. We are in the realm of Thrasymachus, Gorgias and the Sophists, where politics becomes a matter of speaking so loudly that one comes to dominate the agenda, regardless of the coherence, consistency or truth of what one is saying.

    In this context – which I think is mirrored in a number of countries to varying degrees – bridge building is an admirable aim. I wonder what positions are capable of being ‘bridged’, however? Is it realistic to try to build bridges with those who hold the ‘alternative values’ that you mention or is it, rather, a matter of trying to build bridges with some of the constituencies that currently support these ‘alternatives’ in order to try and tease them away from them?

    One might also refuse the polarization, perhaps – and do so by drawing attention to the things that are excluded in ‘either/or’ discourse. George Bush used to argue, after 9/11, that you were either ‘with us’ or ‘against us’. Logicians call this the ‘fallacy of restricting the options’ – there’s are always alternatives to the poles and many ‘shades of grey’ between ‘black’ and ‘white’. Perhaps constantly foregrounding the ‘grey’ can deflate the power of polarity and politicians who thrive off it?

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