I lived hiding my identity for sixteen years. I'm related to three people who suffered political disappearances: my father, my brother and my first husband. My parents were members of the communist party, known as Partido Comunista do Brasil. In 1962, they were expelled and founded the Partido Comunista Brasileiro. The headquarters were in Rio. After president Jânio Quadros resigned, in 1961, and vice-president João Goulart took up the presidency, we went through a similar situation as we are living now, with accusations of corruption and tension. The military dictatorship began on April 1st of 1964. My house was invaded on the very next day, but we had already fled to São Paulo. From that point on my name changed to Teresa. By the end of 1964, I met Gilberto, son of working class communists. Soon after we got married. At the time, I was twenty-one and I decided to have a child. He saved my life. My husband, my father and my brother went to the Araguaia guerrilla, but I stayed behind to look after the baby with my mother. My brother went missing in October of 1973, my father and my husband in December of the same year. A leader from the party went to my house to tell me that my brother had died and asked me if we were going to let my mother, a lady of 53 years of age, know. I decided that we wouldn't, I stored the pain for myself so she wouldn’t suffer. The dictatorship left that debt in me: I didn't have the right to cry for my brother's death because I was afraid that my mom would find out the truth.
The Brazilian civilian-military dictatorship didn't let me cry my brother's death. The Brazilian State left that debt in me and in Brazilian society.
I had a meeting with a fellow militant from another organization. There was practically no one left in the militant group that she participated in and I had committed myself to helping her. A friend that lived with me tried to convince me not to go because there was a chance that she had already been arrested. But I had a commitment with that woman, I couldn't abandon her. When I arrived at the meeting place I saw her by the door of the restaurant where we had agreed to have lunch. She waved at me and they detained me instantly. When we arrived at the soldiers' barracks, they forced me to take off my clothes and hanged me on a perch (pau-de-arara). I was tortured for approximately six straight hours. I spent the night on the floor, urinated and drenched in sweat. In a moment like that we hope that death will come and set us free. After a moment of crisis, I realized that at some point that terror would end. Either with me dying or surviving. So I decided to endure. As long as people were oppressed I would fight because another person's oppression is also mine.
The venal powers of the dictatorship. Long live the Brazilian people!
I was arrested for the second time in 1972, in Rio. That's the incarceration that left its worst mark in me. Not only because of the tortures but due to what happened previously to the detention. Right before they arrested me for the second time, one of my brothers was killed by the military. When I was arrested for the second time, they wanted information concerning my second brother's whereabouts. If I had talked, they would've killed him. They stripped me down as soon as we arrived at the soldiers barracks. Then the tortures began. To escape from that suffering, I said that my brother received money from a wealthy family that lived in a neighborhood called Cosme Velho. The military took me and invaded the residence. The house belonged to a general of the Brazilian army. It was five o'clock in the afternoon and some women were in the living room drinking tea. When I saw them I started talking about the country's situation and began asking for help. One woman looked at me, scared, and said that she couldn't do anything. I remember saying a sentence that has stayed with me until today: "life isn't just about the five o'clock tea". After that day, the general, the owner of the house, ordered that I was sent to the army's hospital. I stayed there for a few weeks, receiving treatment, and later was released. I believe that my love for life was what saved me. Even after all that suffering, I'm still a joyful person.
Rewriting history Respect Intolerance hasn't passed INTOLERANCE Dictatorship, never again Protagonist Rights Disinformation Amnesty International Rowing against the tide
I was at the outskirts of Rio and had a meeting scheduled with a friend. After being arrested and tortured, he told the military the time and place that we had set. I was taken to the army center called DOI-CODI. After a while, I was released. I saw horrible things and admit that I was traumatized, but I don't hold any resentment. I understand that what happened is part of the democratization process of a country. There's no forgiveness or friendship. There is only history.
Dare to fight, dare to win.
It was terrible. I was getting back from a trip to Recife by bus and had a meeting with people from the VAR-Palmares group. I lived in a rented room in Botafogo and the meeting was at the corner of the street where I lived. I decided to arrive ten minutes earlier to check if everything was secure, but the army captured me. They put me inside of beetle car and took me to a soldiers barracks. I was tortured for fifteen days in order to reveal my address. I worked at the documentation department and had a lot of items at home: photos of members from the organization, money, maps and weapons. Those two weeks seemed liked an eternity. During the torture sessions, I was afraid I wasn't going to keep the information secret. After I was arrested, I spent years of my life without being able to remember the name of the street and the appearance of the building that I lived in. I tried so hard to forget so that the army wouldn't go there, that afterwards, I couldn't remember it anymore. The first thing I thought when I was released was: "I survived". I always thought I was going to die. My mother always told me that I was a very dramatic child. Therefore, I always considered myself fragile, but with that experience I discovered that I'm incredibly strong. I believe it's impossible to forget what happened and I'm incapable of forgiving. Torture cannot be forgotten, repaired nor forgiven. It has to be fought. And it's a necessary fight.
Torture is a crime against humanity. Torture can't be left unpunished.
I was going to meet a fellow militant in a neighborhood called Méier, but he was arrested before. Under torture, he confessed the time and place of our meeting. I was at a bakery waiting for him to arrive, but the soldiers recognized me. I tried to resist, but received a strong blow to the head and surrendered. They took me to the barracks and made a curative in the wound: seventeen stitches without anesthesia. After a few days, a political organization formed by militants known as VPR kidnapped the German ambassador. To set him free, they demanded that the military released 40 inmates. I was one of them. I don't hate the people that tortured me. I believe that the armed forces involved need to face trial and some of its members have to be sentenced. But that isn't a matter of revenge. It's impossible to consolidate a democracy in a country if crimes such as torture and murder aren't punished. Nothing will stop it from happening again. As a matter of fact, torture hasn't ended in Brazil against the average convict. The culture of violence and Human Rights violation has to end. Democracy isn't reduced to what people think it means. It isn't just about voting. It's essential that the right to be a citizen is fully respected, otherwise it will never be a plain democracy.
Thinking about the military dictatorship, it comes to mind intolerance, violence and extremism, all in favor of big capital and the rich.
My last incarceration was, undoubtedly, the most remarkable one. After fifteen days hiding at a fellow militant's home, I decided to go out. I went to a store to buy make-up in order to disguise myself, but the security guard suspected me and took me away to search through my belongings. I panicked because I carried a revolver in my purse. I tried to resist, but it was a three men entourage. In the midst of the turmoil, I accidentally fired the gun and shot one of the security guards. The military accused me of killing that man. For a long time I thought that was true but recently I found out that he's alive. He's a senior citizen. They conducted me directly to the OBAN (Operação Bandeirante) headquarters for questioning. They shoved a cloth in my mouth and started giving me shocks. In spite of the terror, I felt strengthen by my ideology. I remained arrested for four years and stayed in several prisons. When I was released, it was difficult to readapt. We were living under a heavy silence, it was forbidden to talk about this subject. Besides, I thought that nobody would want to hear a story like mine. And that resulted in negative consequences for me and for Brazil. It’s an undigested national trauma. Until recently, I preferred not to remember nor talk about what happened. It's painful. I can't remember clearly lots of parts from that period. I made such a vigorous effort to forget that it got lost somewhere in my memory. With time, I started to understand that in order to turn a page we have to read it. Then I could move on.
Hidden crimes in the urban jungle
Bread and circuses
Who hasn't read, but practices!
It can always get worse
How to escape from hatred - Nature's forces - The streets - In Brazil. But it won't be that simple - Another side of history
The way to the sun - reopens the doors - identity Unconventional Risk in every direction Controversy
Scars inside the soul Exhibition Ambiguous
At July twentieth of 1969 I was arrested for the second time. Curiously, on the same day that mankind stepped on the moon. I always highlight this information because I think it's an interesting experience. At the same time that Men was entering an inhospitable and different place, such as the moon, I entered the basements of the dictatorship. An inhospitable and different place as well. I was part of an armed tactical group and we were driving a stolen car. Regrettably, my fellow militants and I parked the vehicle in front of a house that the mother of a police detective, specialized in car theft, lived. It was a really unfortunate coincidence. We had changed the license plate, but the car was identified anyway. The police executed an ambush to find out who was going to pick up the car and then they arrested us. We were taken to the police station specialized in theft. Since we were students, they suspected that we were involved with political organizations because we didn't have the common profile of thieves. At the same day, we were transferred to the torture headquarters, the DOI-CODI. I remained incarcerated for three years. When I was released I began appreciating things that I took for granted, like contemplating the horizon or bathing in the sun. It was as if I got back from the dead. The violence and loss of many friends were extremely painful, but I don't want and don't believe that I should ever forget what happened. It's a chapter of Brazilian history.
What the dictatorship means for me:
Mallet Soares School - Rio's South Zone - Junior High School Class in 1966. Five years later: two students dead and missing, one banished and one arrested.
1) Frederico Eduardo Mayr: dead during torture session and disappeared 2) Flávio Carvalho Molina: dead during torture session and disappeared
3) Carlos Eduardo Fayal de Lira: arrested, tortured and banished from Brazil's territory
4) Newton Leão Duarte: arrested, tortured and did sentence in Ilha Grande's prison
It was a day that I cannot forget. I was in Rio de Janeiro, at my boyfriend's house. I knew the police was looking for me. It was august of 1970. They took me straight to DOI-CODI, the torture centre of the city. I was incarcerated for a year and four months. One of the features of the Brazilian military dictatorship was the ambiguity between the totally illegal and legal aspects of the justice system. When you were arrested and sent to these torture centres, the procedures were totally illegal. This phase could last days or months. Afterwards, you were transferred to a prison and the bureaucratic part of the regime started. We were required to answer to a legal process in court, which at that time was the Military Court. The lawyers filed motions to release the inmates, but the process was extremely slow. The legal part didn't interest the dictatorship. They wanted to arrest, dismantle organizations, torture and murder, not to release the prisoners. During this time, the army renewed my preliminary arrest a number of times so that my detention remained "legal". Finally, on December fourteenth of 1971, they set me free. It was my birthday. I left prison in the fiercest period of the regime and felt really fearful. Nobody can face an experience like that without getting deeply traumatized. But I was really happy. I knew that I had the whole world to discover. I began acting politically again little by little. I believe that militancy is important because without it we aren't able to achieve a democratic state. It is a process that's always in the making and that has as a prerequisite the right to be a fully respected and dignified citizen. These are personal standards that I continue to seek in my life until today but through different paths. It's an endless process.