Brazil is currently experiencing drastic polarisation, exacerbated by the commemoration of the military coup of 1964 celebrated by the army and the far-right, and promoted by president Bolsonaro.
The Brazilian military dictatorship lasted from 1964 to 1985, and left in its wake chilling figures such as 20,000 victims of torture and 434 victims of murder or dissapearances.
On the 31st of March, Brazilians took to the streets to protest in favour of and against the dictatorship, and Brazil once again found itself caught up in a controversy surrounding the 55th anniversary since the dictatorship began.
Historical perspectives regarding the dictatorship are being subject to brutal revisionism. In 2017, the Parana Survey Institute found that 43% of Brazilians were in favour of a potential military intervention, against only 51% who claimed to be against it, whilst 5% were unsure.
Since January 2019, Brazil has been run by sympathisers of the dictatorship, a regime that repressed its own citizens and violated human rights. President Bolsonaro deeply offended the victims and families of victims of the dictatorship with his calls to celebrate the day in which the coup was carried out.
Bolsonaro’s alternative facts
The new Brazilian president doesn’t believe that the historical episode that ended Brazilian democracy in 1964 was a military coup. Quite the contrary, he believes it was a victory by the armed forces who had saved the country from communist tyranny.
A spokesperson of the president reiterated that “society united and aware of the danger the country was experiencing in that moment, civilians and soldiers came together” to “recover and put Brazil “back on track”.
These provocative comments are insulting to the intensive work that has been carried out by hundreds of victims and human rights organisations, and create a world of alternative facts that is currently enveloping the country and rewriting history.
This scenario creates confusion and misinformation with the objective of delegitimizing the truth and distorting public opinion for political purposes.
The ultimate effect is to keep polarising a society in which the truth becomes an ideological suspicion, and militarism the new normal.
There have been 19 documented cases of babies and children who were kidnapped by military forces.
Nostalgia of the military dictatorship on March the 31st was counteracted on the streets under the banner of “Dictatorship Never Again” (Ditadura Nunca Mais). Thousands of Brazilians from all over the country got together to protest against Bolsonaro’s commemoration of the coup.
Shadows of a dictatorship: kidnapping of babies
In the midst of this controversy, various newspapers published and reminded the public of the perverse crimes of the dictatorship which few people were aware of, such as the kidnapping of babies and their subsequent illegal adoption.
There have been 19 documented cases of babies and children who were kidnapped by military forces, according to an investigation by journalist Eduardo Reina, who, in his book ‘Cautiverio sin fin’, revealed the details of this tragic occurrence.
Examples like that of Lia Cecilia, who was kidnapped from her mother as a baby and taken to a military run orphanage, are a reflection of this dark period in Brazilian history.
These practices of state terrorism such as kidnappings embody the violations of human rights that occured during the military regime.
These practices of state terrorism such as kidnappings embody the violations of human rights that occured during the military regime, and these stories continue to be invisibilized by authorities and official media outlets.
The intention of Bolsonaro to commemorate the dictatorship should not be enough to forgive the crimes that were carried out.
Society will continue demanding justice in the streets so that crimes of the dictatorship and human rights violations are finally punished and so that historical memory, especially regarding the victims, can be restored.
Falsifying history is fascism’s favourite pastime. Bolsonaro and his band of military and civilian supporters are prepared to reinforce this myth of a glorious past whilst denying the most negative aspects. The goal is to construct an alternative reality that allows for a new order to be created and for progress to be stopped.