Controversy in Brazil over the release of ‘sensitive’ documents from imperial past
Members of the Brazilian government have expressed concern about the possible release of secret documents dating back to 1864/70 Paraguay war, the taking over of the state of Acre from Bolivia in 1903, current military exercises along the Brazilian border, nuclear research, among other issues.
Brazilian diplomats have warned that revealing the archives of the Triple Alliance (Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay) war against Paraguay could affect current relations, according to the influential Folha de Sao Paulo.
At the time the Paraguayans virtually fought to the last man, with almost all the male population 10 to 60 years killed during the war and forcing the Brazilians to leave behind the Army. Brazil at the time was an empire, and Dom Pedro II ruler.
In recent years the construction of the world’ largest operational hydroelectric dam, Itaipú, shared between Brazil and Paraguay could also expose alleged ‘dealings’ between the dictatorships of both countries at the time (1970).
Similarly members from the current administration of President Dilma Rousseff fear that the arguments in support for recent military exercises along its borders (Brazil has borders with all South American countries but Chile and Ecuador) and ‘potential conflict situations’ could surprise many of ‘our neighbours’.
The Brazilian military are also concerned that disclosures could expose agreements reached by the Brazilian military dictatorship (1964/1985) and other countries of the region referred to the Plan Condor, which enabled the kidnap, exchange and killings of alleged opponents of the military regimes of the time in South America.
The debate over the partial or total disclosure of government documents and the time-table for such decisions has become a dominant issue of the Brazilian political agenda.
Former presidents and currently senators Jose Sarney and Fernando Collor de Mello have called for caution and recommended that some documents should remain undisclosed for another fifty years.
Besides the historic issues affecting neighbouring countries the former leaders warned about documents referred to nuclear research and ‘tests’, particularly when Argentina and Brazil, not so long ago, were competing for the leadership of the continent.
Another most sensitive issue pointed out by diplomats and the military refers to the state of Acre, which originally belonged to Bolivia, but in a several decades process was finally incorporated to the Brazilian union in 1920. Earlier in 1903 Brazil convinced Bolivia to take £ 2.5 million sterling in gold and a gift of two white stallions for the Bolivian president.
According to Folha de Sao Paulo, the Baron of Rio Branco, a former Brazilian Foreign Affairs minister and considered the father and reference of Brazilian diplomacy is attributed with having handsomely bribed several Bolivian officials so to confirm the Amazon basin Acre was finally ceded to Brazil.
However Catholic priest Frei Betto, one of Latin Americas’ promoters of the so-called Liberation Doctrine criticized hiding what he described as the “historic massacre and plundering” of Paraguay and their people.
“Non disclosure pretends to cover up the shameful participation of the Duque de Caxias, patron of the Brazilian Army who commanded our troops when that war”, said Frei Betto.
During that conflict “Brazil took over 40% of Paraguayan territory”, said Frei Betto who has no political militancy but for the fact he was once an advisor of former president Lula da Silva.