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Demonstrators hold photos of persons who were killed during Brazil’s dictatorship during a protest. Demonstrators hold photos of persons who were killed during Brazil’s dictatorship during a protest in Sao Paulo, Brazil, March 31, 2019 (AP photo by Andre Penner).

In Brazil, Dictatorship-Era Wounds Never Really Healed. Then Came Bolsonaro

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

In December 1972, when she was 28 years old, Maria Amelia de Almeida Teles was arrested along with her husband and another communist leader while walking down the street in Sao Paulo. The following day, Teles’ two young children and pregnant sister were also taken in. The arrests were carried out by members of the “Operation Bandeirantes” team, a secret police operation formed within the Brazilian army, and had been ordered by Brazil’s military dictatorship, which at the time was led by President Emilio Garrastazu Medici. Though the Medici years are often remembered for the so-called Brazilian Miracle, during which the country experienced remarkable economic growth, they were also a time of heightened repression, as Teles would learn firsthand.

Detained for a year for her work in the Brazilian Communist Party, for which her husband was a regional director, Teles was held in the Sao Paulo unit of the dictatorship’s repressive intelligence agency, known as the DOI-CODI. During her time in custody, she was tortured by Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, the late Brazilian army officer perhaps most notorious for having tortured Dilma Rousseff, who decades later would become president. ...

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