Resistance and hope, dictatorship never again!

In this serious moment of global pandemic, where the values of democracy are being tested, CESE cannot but add its voice to the chorus of those defending the democratic Rule of Law.

Over the 56 years since the 1964 civil and military coup, CESE – an ecumenical organization born in those sombre times and inspired by the principles of the Christian faith, reasserts its commitment to democracy for a nation that truly takes account of everyone.

Resistance and hope, dictatorship never again!

Never forget, let it never happen again!

We share the following declaration with admiration of and in homage to those who sacrificed themselves resisting the dictatorship:

56 years since the civil and military coup that still affects us today

By Eugênia Augusta Gonzaga, Maurice Politi and Rogério Sottili

Opinion piece in the Folha de São Paulo newspaper – 31 March 2020

We are experiencing a profound global crisis without precedent in the recent history of humanity.  A crisis of this magnitude demands equally profound reflections from all of us, to contribute to the reformulation of the civilizing pact and to form the basis of collective coexistence.  We need a new direction for the construction of a new social order based on the collective.  More than ever, leaders prepared to deal with global crises are fundamental, to propose revisions to the principles of a still young and fragile democracy, so our society can move towards a strong democracy with shared values for all.

Underestimating health crises, as well as a lack of preparation to confront them, is characteristic of authoritarian regimes.  Little is known about the meningitis epidemic that affected the city of São Paulo between 1971 and 1975, during the Emílio Garrastazu Médici dictatorship.  At the time, the vertiginous increase in cases that spread across the city, reaching a fatality rate of 14% in 1972, was concealed by censorship and by the complicity of the authorities.

Brazil needs to construct its memories, defend the truth and promote reparations and justice for indigenous genocide, for three centuries of slavery, for the military dictatorship and the genocide of black, poor and peripheral populations.

State violence had produced and produces victims in various ways.  In the past and present, torture, summary executions, forced disappearances and cruel and degrading treatment are one face of the coin, while we cannot forget the victims of misogyny, femicide, xenophobia, persecution against freedom of expression, transphobia, political intolerance arising from State action; in short, all the various expressions of authoritarianism.

We must also highlight the victims of social and political State violence, which aggravates social inequality and weakens significant public services, such as health and education and, principally, given this scenario, social and economic protection services.  This is a State which, if it doesn’t murder its citizens, leaves them to die from negligence and from the dismantling of public policies to protect the most vulnerable.

We live in a country marked by a historical and structural culture of violence.  However, there are voices that do not remain mute in the face of such deafening silence.  These are the voices that amplify in times of struggle and impregnate memories in our bodies.

Our society needs to revisit its authoritarian and violent legacy and transform institutions to defend the democratic Rule of Law.  Throughout the military dictatorship, from 1964 to 1985, there were thousands of dead and disappeared indigenous people and rural workers; resistant politicians arrested, tortured, murdered and many who remain disappeared today; thousands evicted from their homes in city peripheries and favelas; and endless numbers of people persecuted, imprisoned, tortured and killed by systemic State terrorism.

Even in social isolation to contain the spread of Covid-19, it is essential to restore these memories and continue fighting, so that State violence does not repeat itself, with cries of “dictatorship, never again”.

Eugênia Augusta Gonzaga / Regional Prosecutor for the Federal Republic

Maurice Politi / Member of the Centre for the Preservation of Political Memory

Rogério Sottili / Executive Director of the Vladimir Herzog Institute