BRASILIA – Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday appointed two members of the armed forces to a commission investigating deaths and disappearances during the brutal 1964-81 military dictatorship.
The far-right leader is an unapologetic admirer of the dictatorship, under which he served as an artillery officer, and has caused outrage by branding it a “glorious” time in Brazilian history.
The move comes two days after he questioned the credibility of a report published by the National Truth Commission investigating abuses committed by the dictatorship.
Retired Col. Weslei Antonio Maretti and army officer Vital Lima Santos will now sit on the seven-member Special Commission on Political Deaths and Disappearances, which is under the Ministry of Women, Family and Human Rights.
Bolsonaro also appointed two legislators from his Social Liberal Party (PSL) to the commission.
“The reason is that the president has changed; now it’s Jair Bolsonaro, from the right,” the president said.
The women, family and human rights ministry said the changes were aimed at “accelerating” the process by which the families of the disappeared will get “answers regarding the whereabouts of their loved ones.”
The special commission, set up in 1995, aims to find the bodies of and identify those who died or disappeared when in police custody during the dictatorship.
It also issues compensation criteria for the victims’ families. It has processed 480 requests for identification and compensation.
On Tuesday, Bolsonaro said the debate about the 2014 report by the truth commission, set up by leftist former President Dilma Rousseff, was “hot air.”
The report found that 434 assassinations were carried out in the years after the 1964 coup, as well as uncounted arbitrary detentions and cases of torture of political opponents.
“Are you going to believe the truth commission?” he asked reporters.
“It was made up of seven people, appointed by who? By Dilma Rousseff.”
Rousseff, a former guerrilla who was tortured under the dictatorship, was impeached in 2016.
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