Volkswagen and state terrorism

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By ANTÔNIO PINHEIRO SALLES*

Volkswagen had an unequivocal participation in the articulations of the 1964 coup

Brazilian workers have their eyes turned to the German company Volkswagen. This is because it had an unequivocal participation in the articulations of the 1964 coup, since, as a prominent associate, it maintained close political and economic links with Ipes (Institute of Research and Social Studies) and Ibad (Brazilian Institute of Democratic Action). Both organizations subordinate to the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency). Consequently, the company greatly contributed to the overthrow of President João Goulart (1962-1964). In addition, using the experience gained from Nazism in Germany, his assembly plant in the ABC region of São Paulo was transformed into something similar to a concentration camp.

The workers came to know methods of oppression and persecution as dictated, years ago, by Adolf Hitler. They were observed, watched, spied on, followed, in a permanent climate of insecurity and apprehension. Some employees, following superior orders, began to play the spurious role of informers, informers, traps, snitches, snitches. So the arrests followed. Workers were taken to the basements of the dictatorship, tortured, murdered or prosecuted, convicted, booked, fired, unable to get a new job. Even worse: Volkswagen was at the forefront of companies that, in partnership with the military dictatorship, made it possible to install and maintain the State's repressive apparatuses, prioritizing the Dops (Department of Political and Social Order) and the DOI-Codi, Oban (Operations and Information Detachment – ​​Internal Defense Operations Center, Operation Bandeirantes).

At a time when we are going through the murky times of Bolsonarism, with the aggravation of Covid-19, the construction of a memorial acquires international relevance that rescues and preserves the history of workers’ struggles against the evils that have bedeviled the Brazilian nation. The project has full support from trade union centrals, social movements and personalities committed to democracy and the defense of human rights. Everyone understands that recovering memory means sustaining resistance, regaining hope. The repetition of tragedies overcome with the blood of women and men who refused to live with institutionalized arbitration and violence could never be allowed.

Volkswagen was investigated by the GT Dictatorship and Repression of Workers and the Trade Union Movement (GT-13), of the National Truth Commission (CNV), by Committees and other Truth Commissions of São Paulo, and the company was held responsible for its actions alongside of the military government. At the end of CNV's operation, in 2014, a document was released with a series of recommendations, considering the result of the evidence raised against “businessmen, as well as private and state-owned companies”. The WG even recommended “rescuing the memory of the workers' struggle to guarantee historical reparation, in addition to economic reparation, under the responsibility of the State and the companies involved in the repression”.

In September 2015, the Forum of Workers for Truth, Memory, Justice and Reparation, several institutions, entities and personalities filed a complaint against Volkswagen with the Federal Public Ministry in São Paulo. Since that time, when there was a protocol for representation and the opening of the investigation, the construction of a Center for the Memory of Workers' Struggles and Corporate Participation in State Terrorism has been demanded. Then, still in September, the company informed the press that it was studying, “among other initiatives, making a memorial” (People, November 1, 2015). In 2017, effectively, a negotiation process began. Only today, when Brazil supports a government that defends torturers and dictatorships, Volkswagen retreats and seeks the justification of Covid-19 to suspend ongoing negotiations.

Remember that the company, during Nazi Germany (1933-1945), enslaved Jews and other workers in the manufacture of vehicles for Hitler's army. He ended up assuming his responsibility, but in 1998. Due to a legal requirement, he created a millionaire fund to compensate his victims. Here, however, he claims that, with the Covid-19 pandemic, he added a loss of 1,4 billion euros, being unable to deal with the issue. It does not report, however, that it earned 17 billion euros last year (today, 112 billion and 71 million reais). Therefore, the following questions are pertinent: 1) What does half a hundred indemnities for Brazilian workers mean to Volkswagen? 2) Would the creation of a place of memory, a memorial, break Volkswagen? 3) To finance the dictatorial coup of 1964, the installation and maintenance of terror centers in Brazil, would there have been a lack of money? 4) How much did the company profit, and did it increase its equity, supporting the military dictatorship?

That Volkswagen review its decision and, without delay, continue the negotiations. May this be done with the express desire to meet the fair, legitimate, humane and democratic claims of women and men who suffered, but honored, who never lost their willingness to face challenges. Nazism was defeated (so that it is not forgotten and repeated, a portion of its crimes against humanity is recorded in the Topography of Terror Museum in Berlin). Trump has his days numbered on the fingers of his right hand. In Brazil, the military dictatorship did not last as its creators mistakenly predicted. The hazy current times do not prevent anyone from seeing the lights on on the horizon. No company could stop the inexorable march of history.

More than the solution of the case in question, without mincing words, delays and difficulties, an apology must be formalized to the working class and the Brazilian people. It is known that the company's credibility is shaken, even experiencing the need to circumvent a boycott threat in the North American market. It would certainly not be productive for him to worsen crises, with the advent of bigger problems. Recognizing the significance of the high profits that are assured each year, with the help of cheap labor, Volkswagen would not neglect the intention of continuing to sell its cars in our country. There is no doubt: if dungeon survivors are dying, the number of people gathered around their rights and objectives is multiplying.

The horrors imposed on the direct victims and their families will not be forgiven, especially with the participation of Volkswagen do Brasil. Dictatorship no more!

*Antonio Pinheiro Salles is a journalist. Book authorNobody Can Be Silent – ​​Testimony at the National Truth Commission.

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