Rio’s intervention revives the ghost of the dictatorship in Brazil
A woman walks with her daughter in her arms for a military patrol near the Vila Kennedy favela in Rio de Janeiro, on February 23, 2018.
The ghosts of the dictatorship are reviving in Brazil following the decree of President Michel Temer to give the military control of the security of the state of Rio de Janeiro.
The Rio operation can not be compared to the coup in 1964 that left the Latin American giant under military control for more than two decades, but the echoes of that black era are so strong that the government has been forced to dispel any misgivings.
“I’m going to give you the odds for the hypothesis of a military coup: zero,” Temer said in an interview with Radio Bandeirantes on Friday.
“There is no risk to democracy when decisions are made based on the Constitution, on the contrary, we are strengthening democracy,” Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said.
The idea of a “coup” -political- was resurrected in recent years by the Brazilian left to refer to the ‘impeachment’ that took the leftist Dilma Rousseff out of power in 2016, and enthroned Temer as its head of state, its vice president .
– Unpublished in democracy –
In the final stretch of his government, many were surprised that Temer took out the security card to raise his historical unpopularity … using the delicate military figure.
The Cariocas, in fact, have been accustomed for years to seeing camouflaged soldiers supporting the police in their battle against the powerful bands of traffickers.
Military police officers patrol near the favela Vila Kennedy favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 23, 2018.
Some 8,500 soldiers were sent to Rio in July to help with operations in the favelas, the last one on Friday in communities west of the city. And during the 2016 Olympic Games, the troops focused on monitoring the tourist areas, patrolling the Copacabana and Ipanema beach neighborhoods with their assault rifles.
But this intervention is different.
Now the Armed Forces will not only help, since the military will manage the operations and replace the civil leaders in the entire security area.
That had never happened in Brazil since democracy returned in 1985.
– Mass arrests –
The government took a false first step by suggesting that raids could be multiplied in entire neighborhoods and not in a specific address.
Criticism emerged even from judicial sectors, including one of the leading anticorruption prosecutors, Deltan Dallagnol.
The government later qualified his position.
But that did not dissipate the fears that the military intervention exposes all kinds of abuses to the inhabitants of the impoverished favelas, without it also yielding great results in the eradication of drug gangs.
In a video on Facebook that went viral, three black youths give advice to the black community to survive the police abuses.
“The intervention in Rio is an inadequate and extreme measure that worries because it puts the human rights of the population at risk,” warned Amnesty International’s director in Brazil, Jurema Werneck.
– Who watches the guard? –
Temer made it clear that the military will use lethal force when warranted. But the population of Rio, tired of the abusive police operations and the lost bullets, wants to know who will control the performance of the soldiers, taking into account that the armed forces only respond before military courts.
To add fuel to the fire, the army’s general in chief, Eduardo Villas Boas, said he wants “guarantees to be able to act without the risk of a new Truth Commission arising.”
Many saw that commission that examined the crimes of the dictatorship, promoted by Rousseff, as a way to air painful memories, even though confessed torturers included in the final report of 2014 were amnestied and will not tread the prison.
Another key figure in Rio’s intervention, Security Minister Sergio Etchegoyen, called the commission “pathetic.”
His father served in high-ranking positions in the dictatorship, while an uncle led the so-called “House of Death”, a center near Rio where political prisoners were tortured to death.
Military police officers inspect drugs, weapons and ammunition seized near the Vila Kennedy favela in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on February 23, 2018.
– An essay? –
One of the conspiracy theories circulating these days is that Rio could be an essay for an expansion of military power. Etchegoyen himself described Rio as a “laboratory” last year.
This week, however, the official returned to the issue stating that there was “no” need to take control of other states.
But Temer stirred the waters even more when he said Friday that he considered extending that intervention and removing even the governor of Rio.
“It was a discussion at first, but it would be too radical and I discarded it,” he said in an interview with Radio Bandeirantes.