Brazil's Defense Minister General Walter Braga Netto, who is most likely to run for the vice-presidency behind Jair Bolsonaro in the Oct. 2 elections, has signed a document together with the Armed Forces chiefs saying the 1964 coup d'état strengthened the country's democracy.
The document was signed to commemorate a new anniversary of the March 31, 1964, uprising, but failed to address the closing of Congress, censorship of the press as well as tortures and killings carried out by that de-facto government.
According to G1, the statement is to be read Thursday at all military units nationwide.
The military dictatorship lasted from 1964 to 1985, during which time many dissidents were persecuted, tortured, or killed. Congress was closed and the press was censored.
In the years following March 31, 1964, Brazilian society conducted a period of stabilization, security, economic growth, and political maturity, which resulted in the re-establishment of peace in the country, the strengthening of democracy, the rise of Brazil in the concert of nations, and the approval of the broad, general, and unrestricted amnesty by the National Congress, says the text.
The military brass agreed on the need to recognize the role played by civilians and military personnel during the dictatorship. They left us a legacy of peace, freedom, and democracy, non-negotiable values, whose preservation demands from all Brazilians an eternal commitment to the law, to institutional stability, and to the popular will, the Order of the Day states.
The Armed Forces have accompanied the country's evolution keeping up with the country's geopolitical stature and strictly observing the constitutional rules, in the defense of the Nation and the service to its true sovereign - the Brazilian people, the chiefs pointed out.
Joining Braga Netto in the declaration were Admiral Almir Garnier Santos from the Navy, General Paulo Sérgio Nogueira de Oliveira from the Army and Lieutenant Brigadier Carlos de Almeida Baptista Junior from the Air Force.
According to the National Truth Commission, which investigated the events that took place during the dictatorship, 434 people were killed or disappeared during the military regime, while 377 suspects were named for their direct or indirect involvement in torture and murder.
President Jair Bolsonaro (PL) has questioned the commission's data. He often refers to Colonel Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, who died in 2015 and was recognized by the Courts as a torturer, a national hero.
In 2021, in his first act as Minister of Defense, Braga Netto stated that in 1964 Brazilians wandered in the streets, with broad support from the press, political leaders, churches, and businessmen. He insisted it was up to the Armed Forces to pacify the country, reorganize it, and guarantee the democratic freedoms of today.
A year earlier, General Fernando Azevedo, then Minister of Defense, said that March 31, 1964, the date of the military coup, was a movement that represented a milestone for democracy.