Brazilian Vice President Hamilton Mourao Monday said crimes committed during the country's military regime (1964-1985) cannot be investigated because “all those people are dead.”
The retired army general made those remarks when commenting on the disclosure of 10,000 hours of audio from the special military courts of the time where brass officers admitted to tortures and murders.
What do they want to investigate? All those people are dead. Are they going to pull these guys out of their graves?, said Mourao, laughing, about the revelations of the audios of the Supreme Military Court in the 1970s, when it judged cases of political prisoners.
In Brazil, there were no trials for human rights violations during the dictatorship or reparations as in the rest of the Southern Cone, under a 1979 self-amnesty law which paved the way for a transition towards full democratic rule in the late 1980s.
Like President Jair Bolsonaro, Mourao insisted the dictatorship had been successful at fighting Communism.
This is a matter of the past, History has two sides. Let's remember: there was in Brazil an internal struggle against the Brazilian State with organizations that wanted to implement the dictatorship of the proletariat, the Vice President said. Those organizations lost the fight, he added. He did admit, though, that some excesses had been committed. There were excesses. There were excesses on both sides, said Mourao.
At the time of the March 31, 1964 coup d'état, no armed groups were operating in the country. Urban and rural guerrillas appeared in Brazil after 1967 when all political activity was banned and opponents were persecuted.
The coup occurred with U.S. support -according to State Department documents- and in the framework of the agrarian and educational reforms announced by constitutional president Joao Goulart, who finally died in 1976 in Corrientes, Argentina, during his exile after his overthrow.
Mourao's response came after archives of the Supreme Military Tribunal of the 1970s were disclosed and new data became public regarding tortures, killings, and human rights violations committed at military barracks and police stations.
The Supreme Military Tribunal warned top military officers during the hearings of trials against political prisoners about the repetition of cases of torture against detainees.
The audios, which would undeniably prove the existence of torture, were released by the Federal Supreme Court to professor and researcher Carlos Fico, from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and disclosed by O Globo over the weekend.
Among the audios is that of Army General Rodrigo Octávio, judge of the Supreme Military Court, who on June 24, 1977, admits that the Armed Forces committed torture, especially pointing to a woman who suffered a miscarriage after being subjected to torture sessions.
Admiral Julio de Sá Bierrenbach, another judge of the military court that was the one that judged the political prisoners, reprimands in one of the audios those responsible for the dictatorship for exercising torture and not complying with the Charter of the United Nations.
When a case like this reaches us, it becomes a full plate for the enemies of the regime and the opponents of the government. The news agencies and foreign newspaper correspondents, with the freedom they have here, spread the news in the international press, and in a few hours they publish acts of cruelty that occurred in Brazil, giving the impression that we are a nation of savages, says the then military judge.
Mourao has publicly repudiated the Truth Commission created by former President Dilma Rousseff, a former torture victim herself, who was tormented for 22 consecutive days and detained as a political prisoner for almost three years.
Mourao will run for the Senate in October for the state of Rio Grande do Sul. After political clashes with President Jair Bolsonaro, the latter would seek reelection with Defense Minister and also retired General Walter Braga Netto on his ticket.