HAVANA TIMES – Volkswagen will compensate former employees whose rights were violated during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime, the company said.
“We regret the violations that occurred in the past,” Hiltrud Werner, who is responsible for integrity and law at Volkswagen’s administrative council, was quoted in a Wednesday statement as saying, noted dpa news.
An agreement reached with Brazilian prosecutors stipulates that an association of former employees will receive 16.8 million reais (3 million dollars), a Volkswagen spokesman in Brazil told dpa.
The total financial compensation amounts to 36 million reais. It includes projects to help people come into terms with the past and remember human rights violations in Brazil.
A study by historian Christopher Kopper from Bielefeld University found that Volkswagen factories’ security systems monitored employees’ opposition activities. The spying facilitated the arrest of at least seven of them and mistreatment of others.
“The correspondence with the board of directors in Wolfsburg shows unreserved approval of the military regime until 1979,” said Kopper. Volkswagen wanted to secure a favorable market environment for itself, according to the researcher.
In 2015, victims in Brazil filed charges against the German car maker. A truth commission created by then-president Dilma Rousseff saw clear indications that Volkswagen had collaborated with the military regime.
“For Volkswagen, it’s important to deal responsibly with this negative chapter in Brazil’s history, and promote transparency,” Werner said.
Volkswagen, in Brazil since 1953, said it was the first foreign company to re-evaluate its role during the dictatorship.