Reform the Armed Forces

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By JOSÉ DIRCEU*

Speech at the public event Dictatorships Never Again

I greeted my friend Luiza Erundina, who is a symbol for all of us, and I remembered everyone who is represented in these photographs today. Our presence here – I believe that of Nilmário Miranda, mine, José Genuíno, everyone – represents an irrevocable commitment. First, to fight to rescue the memory of the comrades who fell fighting against the dictatorship and the missing dead.

In truth, both the PT and the PT bench in the Chamber of Deputies have a firm and clear position in favor of the Missing Dead Commission and in favor of maintaining and sustaining the Amnesty Commission. We need to learn the lessons now. Not from the past.

What we received back, after the 1988 Constitution, is that the only country where the military was not held accountable for crimes and dictatorship was Brazil (they were even held responsible in Guatemala). This is a shame for us. What do we get back after 30 years? A new attempt, first of a military government, because Jair Bolsonaro's government was supported – his campaign, his program and, later, his government – ​​by the cores of the Armed Forces.

It must be said that the majority of the Army General Staff went to the Bolsonaro government. It is true that he expelled three or four and even humiliated them. But the reality is that we had a civil-military government and an attempted coup d'état that has been more than proven. Not only on January 8th, but also within the Armed Forces.

It is no surprise that 67 officers are now being investigated. So something is very wrong, after 30 years. What is wrong is what the Federal Supreme Court is doing now, saying that the Armed Forces are a subordinate power to the civil power. To submit the Brazilian Armed Forces to civil power, the curriculum of military schools needs to change. Otherwise, with each generation, they are educated in a conservative, reactionary way, as if they were the representatives of the nation who will restore morality and national interest.

Promotions also have to change. The President of the Republic must have the last word on promotions. This cannot be confused with the idea that we are against the Armed Forces, against Brazil having an Armed Forces. Although many may defend a pacifist position even against the existence of the Armed Forces, as our dear friend Eduardo Jorge and Luiz Gushiken defended.

The whole problem is political, and it is alliances. The only reason there was no coup was because, unlike in the past, the middle class in large metropolitan regions, the business community, the media, the Americans and the international and national situation did not allow the coup, but they tried to stage a coup. So there is no way to accept the situation.

It's true that we don't have a majority in the House and Senate to change. But the national defense strategy, the national defense policy and the White Paper are being discussed in Congress. It's time for the country to debate this. Certain problems in Brazil can only be solved if we involve the country. And the role of the Armed Forces, the Federal Supreme Court is doing this this week saying that there is no moderating power and the Armed Forces have to change.

There must be reform in the Armed Forces. That is the question. Otherwise, depending on the situation, depending on the political-historical moment, we will again have the problem that we had in the election of Jair Bolsonaro, in his government, on January 8, 2023.

In December 2022, when Lula went to receive a diploma from the TSE, there was an attempt. Let's remember that the “Black Feet” were already in the demonstrations that vandalized the Federal Police, burning cars and buses. So it is more than evident that it is necessary to first investigate and punish all the military officers involved and reform the Armed Forces.

And our commitment to the missing dead. This is irrevocable, because it is our life. It's part of us. Brazil owes this to families, it owes it to the history of Brazil, it owes it to them, who gave the only thing they had, they gave their lives, so that we would be here today, in democracy, now fighting for them. Thank you very much.

* Jose Dirceu He was chief minister of the Civil House in the first Lula government (2003-2005), national president of the Workers' Party and federal deputy for São Paulo. Author, among other books, of Memories – vol. 1 (editorial generation). [https://amzn.to/3x3kpxl]

Text established from the speech given at the public act “Ditaduras Nunca Mais”, on March 31, 2024, next to the Monument in Homage to the Political Dead and Missing of the Military Regime in Ibirapuera Park in São Paulo.


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