Vladimir Herzog Institute and Conectas condemn statement by Hamilton Mourão on Colonel Brilhante Ustra
It is unacceptable for the Vice President of the Republic to attempt such absurd historical revisionism that seeks to rewrite the biography of one of the cruelest and most abhorrent figures in the history of our country
The Vladimir Herzog Institute and Conectas Human Rights publicly condemn the statement by General Hamilton Mourão who, in an interview on October 7 with a German television station, praised Colonel Brilhante Ustra, calling him “a man of honor”, denied criticisms against the torturer and affirmed that he respected human rights.
It is unacceptable for the Vice President of the Republic to attempt such absurd historical revisionism that seeks to rewrite the biography of one of the cruelest and most abhorrent figures in the history of our country.
Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra was head of the São Paulo unit of the Department of Information Operations – Center for Internal Defense Operations (DOI-Codi), the intelligence and political repression agency of the military dictatorship that terrorized Brazil between 1964 and 1985. During his 40 months at the helm of DOI-Codi, the agency registered at least 50 deaths of the regime’s opponents and a case of torture every 60 hours. Ustra supervised the torture sessions and often did the torturing himself.
In 2008, he became the first military official to be recognized by the justice system as a torturer. The São Paulo State Court awarded a legal victory to the Teles family, which accused him of the kidnapping and torture of César, Maria Amélia, Criméia, Janaína and Edson Teles, the latter two just 5 and 4 years old, respectively.
Torture, as stated by international laws, treaties and conventions, is one of the most terrible and abominable acts of mankind. It is no coincidence that torture is the main focus of article five of the milestone document on human rights – the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was 70 years old in 2018: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
By defending Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra, General Hamilton Mourão is once again expressing an opinion that is entirely incompatible with the democratic rule of law, distorting history and demeaning the right to memory and to the truth provided for in the Constitution.
The vice president has demonstrated great difficulty understanding the civilizational effort and the choice of humanity for a future that combines freedom, justice, respect and the promotion of human rights, and one that is paved with true democratic ideals.
To say that Colonel Brilhante Ustra was a man of honor who respected human rights is to deny the severity of the acts that he and the military regime committed during this dark period of Brazilian history that was marked by violence, torture, authoritarianism, corruption, censorship and extremely serious human rights violations against citizens across the country.
We remain vigilant to attempts at historical revisionism such as this and we are aware that they are only possible because Brazil still owes justice to the victims of serious atrocities committed in the past. Guaranteeing the incomplete task of consolidating democracy in Brazil is inseparable from the need to deliver justice to all those who have suffered from State violence. In order that we may not forget and not keep repeating history.