By Denis Duettmann (dpa)
HAVANA TIMES – Hundreds of people commemorated the victims of Brazil’s military dictatorship on Sunday, the anniversary of the coup that established it.
They passed through the capital Brasilia and showed banners with the inscription “Never again dictatorship.”
Fifty-five years after the coup, right-wing populist President Jair Bolsonaro sparked controversy by ordering the Defence Ministry to organize “proper celebrations” on March 31.
Bolsonaro, a far-right former paratrooper known for his misogynous, racist and homophobic comments and who has been dubbed the Trump of the Tropics, has praised the military dictatorship.
Announcing the order on Monday, his spokesman said the president did not regard the events of 1964 as a coup, but rather a time in which the military and civilians came together to put the country back on the right path.
Three days later, Bolsonaro attempted to deflect criticism of the announcement by saying “It’s not about a celebration.”
“Rather, it’s about remembering, reviewing, to see what was wrong and what was right. And to then use that for the good of Brazil in the future.”
In reality, on Sunday no major celebrations initially took place.
Already on Friday there was a small military ceremony in the presidential palace, at which the controversial order was read out.
“The armed forces participate in the history of our people, always in accordance with their legitimate wishes,” it says in the text of the order. “March 31, 1964, took place during the Cold War. The armed forces heard the call of the vast majority of the people and began to stabilize the situation.”
Human rights activists criticized the text because the victims of the dictatorship are not mentioned in it.
The coup against then-president Joao Goulart in 1964 initiated a 21-year dictatorship.
A National Truth Commission later said that under the dictatorship, which censored media and tortured dissidents, 434 people were murdered or “disappeared.”
“Celebrating torture, killings and repression, as Jair Bolsonaro suggests, is an attack on democracy and those who have given their lives for it,” Workers’ Party leader Gleisi Hoffmann wrote on Twitter