The Ambassador of Ustra

Image: Elyeser Szturm

By Oswaldo Malatesta*

On the occasion of Bolsonaro's vote for Dilma's impeachment, her son Eduardo was by her side. The vote carried a tribute to one of the greatest torturers that this country had the misfortune to know, Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra. In my opinion, the mention of the murderer and torturer hardly got out of Jair's head, since I don't believe he has the talent for such an offense. Eduardo, as can be seen in the video, repeats his father's words as if he already knew in advance the exact content of the vow. If it wasn't his idea, he no doubt already knew the exact tenor of the demonstration and seemed quite excited about the situation. So it's not a matter of putting words in Eduardo's mouth, they were there, they came out of there too. In the words of the Bolsonaros, the honoree was “the dread of Dilma Rousseff”.

Dread? It would be better to use the term “horror”. But not from Dilma. Ustra was a terrorist, a state terrorist. The term “state terrorism” is used by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) to designate actions of the civil-military dictatorship, such as Operation Condor, which spread across several Latin American countries.

But this is nothing new to anyone. Eduardo has already posed with a T-shirt honoring the terrorist Ustra in the corridors of the Chamber – including referring to the aforementioned vote, in the text of the post that accompanied the photo. Like his father, Eduardo always fought against initiatives that sought to restore the memory and the truth about the Brazilian dictatorial period (1964-1985). Regarding the commission that investigated the disappeared from Araguaia, Bolsonaro's position was to compare it to dogs in search of bones. The family also does not lack praise for other Latin American dictators, such as Pinochet and Stroessner.

Well, as I said, this is nothing new. But there is more, there is always more.

The Brazilian civil-military regime did not just torture and kill Brazilian civilians. According to the National Truth Commission, at least 24 foreigners were killed or disappeared. The majority, 11, were Argentine. The others were born in Uruguay (3), Bolivia (1), Spain (1), France (1), Italy (2), Yugoslavia (1), Paraguay (1), United Kingdom (1), Syria (1) and Czechoslovakia (1).

Faced with Eduardo's entry into the ranks of Brazilian diplomacy, with his appointment to the Brazilian embassy in Washington, it remains to be seen whether he will continue to defend his family's private interests and the corporate interests of the bad military man his father was, or whether will adopt a position compatible with the Brazilian State, which admitted, although not in its entirety, the crimes committed by State agents during the military regime.

I imagine how Eduardo, in activities with his fellow ambassadors from other nationalities, especially from countries whose citizens were victims of state terrorism practiced by Brilhante Ustra and many others, would react to questions about the fate of such dead or missing citizens. Will he call the ambassadors dogs because they are interested in finding bones? Will he say that the dictatorship “did not kill much”? Or will he cry out that Ustra lives, unlike his victims?

*Oswaldo Malatesta is a social scientist, specializing in international relations


On foreign victims of the military regime, see

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