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Pajamas Media | The Specter of ’64

Retired Brazilian military officers are referred to as pijamados and remain active in politics as a Brazilian version of the pyjamas media — a voice that never ceases to surprise the outsider with its stridency and insubordination to civilian authority.

The latest chapter is the manifesto of the 13 generals deploring the federal administration’s insistence on the establishment of a national truth commission on crimes committed under the military dictatorship 1964-85.

«This is a wake-up call to the Brazilian nation, signed by men who served the Fatherland, swearing their oath to defend it with their very lives. These are men who represent the Army of preceeding generations, those who laid the foundation of the Army today.

«With one voice we affirm the legitimacy of the Manifesto published on the Web site of the Clube Militar (read it here) on February 16 of this year and taken down, according to mainstream news reports, by order of the Minister of Defense, whose authority to do so we do not recognize.»

The manifesto, according to this report,

… harshly criticizes the Truth Commission, which will identify, albeit without the power to punish, those responsible for deaths, torture and disappearances under the dictatorship. Approved last year, the commission can commence work as soon as its members are appointed.“This commission is a trivial exercise in naked retribution and violates the Amnesty Law with the unacceptable consent of the current government”, the text, signed by 13 generals, says.

A retired military man of another persuasion writes to Luis Nassif

Unfortunately, we are still viewed according to a dominant stereotype: that it was the military that perpetrated the 1964 coup, toppling a democratically elected president and implementing a bloody dictatorship.

I write to refute this portrait: On the whole, members of the military did not act in this manner. Only small clique of our military officers did this, after being indoctrinated and encouraged to resort to illegal means by the U.S. military, in the years following World War II. This is a fact. Decades of courses and preferential treatment at West Point, Valley Forge, Colorado Springs, Annapolis, and others, led to this state of affairs.

Acknowledging this fact does not make me a Communist. Facing the historical facts as they are, and not according to their face value, should be part of any analysis based on the rational defense of Brazilian sovereignty.

I have no axe to grind and I am not a protest leader inside the Armed Forcces. I speak for myself alone when I say that the Brazilian armed forces have wasted an enormous amount of time debating the Amnesty Law. Although I have long severely criticized the role the armed forces played in 1964, I see no way of implementing the Amnesty Law without causing generating hostility between civilian authority and the military.  I will put it to you bluntly:  The President, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, should order the defense minister to punish the signatories of that idiotic manifesto.

The actual adversary:

What worries me, in fact, is the overall neglect and lack of operational capability of the Brazilian military.What worries me even more is the state of siege laid by the Americans to Brazilian soil, a veritable belt of military bases designed to asphyxiate us ranging from Mariscal Estigarríbia, in Paraguay, to the Amazon. This is what I worry about.

Is is for that reason, my dear  Nassif, that military and civilians should work toward restoring the dissuasive power represented by our armed forces.   We have so much vulnerable wealth — oil, water, mining — and immense stretches of fertile lands left defenseless that might attract the greed of bucaneers of all shapes and sizes. I feel it is my duty as a Brazilian military man to warn the nation yet again of this source of danger.

[signed] Mascarenhas Maia
Infantry Officer