military terrorism

Paul Nash, Totes Meer (Dead Sea), 1940–1


The doctrinal basis to justify the attempt of terrorism actions by military installed in the dome of power

The history of the Republic in Brazil is permeated with coups, interventions, pronouncements and military threats against the civil power. From the proclamation of the Republic in 1889 until the 1964 Coup, there was virtually no civil power without a military threat. The examples are numerous, such as, among others, the so-called Military Question, in the Old Republic, the 30 Revolution and the 1937 coup that installed the dictatorship of the “Estado Novo”. In the case of the Estado Novo, it is worth highlighting the Cohen Plan, a document forged by brazilian military with the intention of establishing the dictatorship in November 1937. The Plan, mixing anti-Communism with anti-Semitism, was fraudulently attributed to Communist International, which would presumably seek overthrow the government through riots.

O jornal Correio da Manhã, in a front-page headline, announced on 1/10/1937 a sensational fake news:

The Comintern's Instructions for the Action of Its Agents Against Brazil

The dark plan was apprehended by the General Staff of the Army

In the democratic period after the end of World War II in 1945 and before the military coup in 1964, we had failed coup attempts. This was the case of the Jacareacanga Revolt in 1956, a small trial of a military coup, and the Aragarças Revolt in 1959, carried out mainly by Air Force and Army personnel, both against the government of Juscelino Kubitschek. Prior to that, ensconced in the so-called “Republic of Galeão” and under the pretext of combating corruption, the military attempted in 1954 a coup d'état to overthrow the elected government of Getúlio Vargas. With Vargas's suicide, the coup was delayed ten years.

The Brazilian military has always had a coup tradition, but not necessarily a terrorist tradition, involving military personnel directly with terrorist actions. From the 1964 Coup, however, the military began to go beyond political repression and torture and murders practiced as part of “institutional normality”. This also existed in earlier times. But the military dictatorship inaugurates something new. It was not just a matter of arresting, torturing and killing opponents of the regime, actions that became routine in military governments after 1964. Some members of the High Command conceived and organized terrorist actions.

While the practice of attacks, aiming to kill a person as a specific target, is more common in left-wing armed groups, terrorist actions, aiming to kill a large number of undetermined people, is typical of acts of war or right-wing organizations. For example, a bomb that explodes in the subway is a terrorist action that kills undetermined people. In the case of the military dictatorship in Brazil after 64, the military considered themselves at war against the internal enemy. This was the doctrinal basis to justify the attempted terrorist actions by the military installed at the top of power.

We will cite here just two cases that deserve to be remembered to understand the current attitude of the military in relation to the criminal excesses of the Bolsonaro government, which they supported for four years and now seem astonished by the scandals that broke out and which they previously pretended to ignore.

The first case was the order given, in June 1968, by Brigadier João Paulo Moreira Burnier to Captain Sergio Ribeiro, known as Sergio Macaco, to plant a bomb in the Gasometer in the city of Rio de Janeiro, which would cause the death of thousands. of people. He refused to carry out orders from Brigadier Burnier to blow up the gasometer, dynamit a dam and throw 40 political leaders into the ocean. The aim was to place the blame on the left. Captain Sergio Macaco, who distinguished himself in rescue missions as a member of the Para-Sar project paratrooper rescue squadron, refused to comply with the order, was expelled from the Air Force and was never reinstated, not even with later support. of Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, an Air Force icon.

The second case was the so-called Riocentro Attack, in Rio de Janeiro. In reality, it was not an attack, but a large-scale terrorist action perpetrated on 30/4/1981 by sectors of the Army to incriminate opponents of the military dictatorship. A large event scheduled for that night was intended to kick off the Labor Day celebrations, and would feature famous artists. The objective was to detonate three bombs in the place and thereby incriminate leftist groups, to stop the process of political opening. It so happens that one of the bombs exploded in a car in the Riocentro parking lot, killing a sergeant and seriously injuring the captain who accompanied him. There was another bomb in the vehicle that did not explode. But a third bomb exploded in the venue's power plant.

How to explain to the country the death of Sergeant Guilherme do Rosário and the injury of Captain Wilson Machado, who just didn't commit a terrorist act killing thousands of people as a matter of “accident at work”? The explosion of the bomb in the sergeant's lap denounced the attempt of a major terrorist action by order of an Army commander. What to do? The Army then decided to invent a terrorist action carried out by the left and considered both soldiers as victims. The sergeant was buried with full military honors, as if he were the victim of a war crime. And the captain, after being hospitalized and cured, went on to work in internal administrative activities of the Army, so as not to attract attention.

The Army was forced to open a Military Police Inquiry (IPM) which, evidently, ended up being filed without conclusions. But, in the issue of September 23, 1987, Veja magazine published secret documents from General Golbery, who died five days earlier. Among them was a confidential note addressed to President João Figueiredo on July 4, 1981, in which the then head of the Civil Cabinet accused the “so-called DOI-CODI” of being infiltrated by terrorists and demanded that the government dismantle those bodies. In other words, the military responsible for torture and murder in the DOI-CODI during the military dictatorship, fearful of losing power with the political opening, began to carry out terrorist acts. They were never punished.

In view of this history, it is not surprising that the military who directly supported the attempted coup in the past 8/1, with the destruction of the Republic's seats of power, have so far not been punished. Will they ever be? The facts are inescapable. The camp in front of the Army HQ in Brasilia brought together hundreds of people, many armed, who left to vandalize the Government headquarters. Those who tried to invade the headquarters of the Federal Police and then placed a bomb in the tank truck near the airport also left from this camp. On the night of 8/1, military officers prevented the PM from arresting the criminals housed in the camp under the protection of the Army.

In addition to the Military Police in Brasilia, whose commanders are now under arrest, some military personnel directly participated in the coup attempt on 8/1, helping the invasion. Some have already been identified. I don't know if they were prosecuted, but as far as I know, they haven't been convicted, at least not yet. Will they ever be? What was the wife of General Villas Boas doing with the invaders of the Planalto Palace on 8/1? Won't she be asked to testify?

As is known, the torturers and murderers of the DOI-CODI were not disturbed. But the military who supported, directly or indirectly, the vandalism that destroyed the offices of the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary, cannot escape unpunished. That would be a mortal blow to Brazil's fragile democracy. The Armed Forces, not just the Army, are demoralized by their support for former President Bolsonaro's coup attempts throughout his term. The FFAA were complicit in the genocidal health policy that sabotaged the vaccine and distributed innocuous COVID remedies throughout Brazil, such as chloroquine. They were accomplices in the policy of destroying the Brazilian environmental and cultural heritage. The last government was a military government with the full support of the FFAA, which even supported the attempt to defraud the electronic voting machines. They even received a hacker at the Ministry of Defense without registration at the reception. He stated that he entered through the back door…

It is not our objective here to narrate all the crimes committed by the previous government with the support of the military. We only intend to draw attention to the excuses invented by the military to exempt themselves from their responsibilities for the crimes they directly supported, during and after the Bolsonaro government. Not even the lieutenant colonel who supported the smuggling of jewels and his father, the muambeiro general, have so far been criticized by the Army.

The former president and his gang have muddied the image of the Armed Forces, accomplices of the criminal mafia that has assaulted Brazil in the last four years. It is up to the Civil Power to prosecute, judge and condemn those responsible, whoever they may be. It is high time for the military to return to the barracks to redefine, with the Executive Branch to which they are subordinated by the Constitution, an updated Defense policy for Brazil and overcome, once and for all, the mediocrity that has prevailed in the high military command posts in our country.

For some analysts, the military is looking for an honorable way out. But, instead of inventing far-fetched solutions like, for example, the Riocentro Report, the only possible honorable solution is to recognize the truth of the facts and be self-critical. But this is not in the DNA of the Brazilian military.

*Liszt scallop is a retired professor of sociology at PUC-Rio. He was a deputy (PT-RJ) and coordinator of the Global Forum of the Rio 92 Conference. Author, among other books, of Democracy reactsGaramond).

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