Brazil’s Human Rights Minister, Paulo Vanucchi, threatened to resign if the Brazilian military are successful in reviewing the bill creating a Truth Commission on the Brazilian dictatorship (1964/1985), which caused internal turmoil in the administration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.
“I’m a removable fuse. My resignation would not be a problem for Brazil or the Republic,” said Vanucchi in an interview with daily newspaper Folha de S. Paulo.
Vanucchi is at the heart of a dispute between different interests in government for having drafted the Human Rights Program presented to Congress last December 21 by President Lula.
Defense Minister Nelson Jobim and the three services commanders threatened to resign in protest for the naming of a commission to investigate human rights abuses committed by the military dictatorship, which have never been addressed under the protection of an Amnesty Law dating back to 1979 under military rule.
The military are demanding that the commission also investigate abuses committed by the leftist armed groups that resisted the regime and which includes several members of Lula’s cabinet and close political associates.
“No way can you put torturers and tortured on the same level. One side acted illegally with the support of the State and the other was judged, imprisoned, disappeared and killed,” said Vanucchi in the interview.
He recalled that President Lula, at the time a union leader, was imprisoned and sentenced to three years in jail for having organized strikes beginning 1978, although the sentence was finally suspended.
Ministers Jobim and Vanucchi are scheduled to meet with Lula who is retaking business after returning from holidays in Bahia.
“President Lula is a constructor of the middle road. But if it is not possible, I can’t remain in the cabinet,” said Vanucchi.
The Amnesty Bill is currently under consideration of the Brazilian Supreme Court with a request for its derogation from the Solicitors Association.
“This is no plan from the radical left. It’s a construction with imperfections and even errors, but it is founded on basic democratic principles,” added Vanucchi.
However vice president José Alencar said he was against ruling out the (1979) amnesty law which impeded opening documents and possible legal actions against repressors from the military regime that left 400 disappeared and thousands tortured.
“I think the archives should be opened, as currently. But I’m against modifying the amnesty bill which helped put an end to that period,” said Alencar quoted by Jornal do Brasil.
“I don’t want a country which ignores memory, which is history, but building history does not mean throwing out the amnesty bill,” he added.
Another official who will also meet Lula on the issue is Minister of Agriculture Reinhold Stephanes supported by the National Agriculture Confederation, CNA.
Stephanes said the human rights bill will generate “legal uncertainty” by proposing open trials to solve land and camp conflicts.
CNA argues the human rights program is a “wink” for farm occupations by the Landless Movement, MST which is a strong political force of peasants roaming the Brazilian countryside taking over land allegedly “unproductive”.
“I’m not against the agribusiness but we need to ensure that they don’t oppress, abuse or asphyxiate family agriculture and the small farmer”, said Vanucchi.
The Human Rights program sent to Congress has opened two additional flanks: the media and the Catholic Church that will also be wanting to be heard.
The project contemplates a close monitoring of the media and administrative fines when “abuses of any kind are committed against human rights” and also includes decriminalizing abortion, civil marriage of the same sex and child adoptions by couples of the same sex. Busy weeks await Lula.