Brazil probes business backing for 1964 coup

Rio de Janeiro, March 27 (IANS/EFE) The role of both domestic and foreign firms in providing logistical and financial support to Brazil’s 1964-1985 military regime has become the subject of two separate probes as the South American nation prepares to mark the 50th anniversary of the coup that brought the junta to power.

Amid commemorations of the April 1, 1964, ouster of elected president Joao Goulart, academics met here this week under the auspices of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro to launch the More Truth Study Group.

The effort aims to identify companies that aided “in the preparation and execution of the coup” and to chart how those firms have fared in the 50 years since the putsch, with particular focus on their ties to the Brazilian state.

Brazil’s official National Truth Commission, appointed by President Dilma Rousseff in 2012, is also looking at connections between big business and the military regime.

“We want to release a first statement about that by the end of March,” commission member Rosa Maria Cardoso, a criminal lawyer, said recently.

“The companies supported the coup, but they also supported the repressive process with money, weapons, vehicles, gasoline,” she said.

The first studies illuminating the role of firms in the coup date from the 1980s, when Uruguayan researcher Rene Armand Dreifuss showed how two business-backed think-tanks, known as IPES and IDAB, systematically smeared the social democrat Goulart as pro-communist, historian Martina Spohr said.

Dreifuss learned that the idea for IPES and IDAB originated with coup conspirator General Golbery do Couto e Silva.

IDAB and IPES also received money from foreign companies under an arrangement brokered by the then-US ambassador in Brasilia, Lincoln Gordon, truth commission member Ivan Seixas said.

While Cardoso suggests the investigations may lead to prosecutions of firms or individual executives, Spohr, a scholar with the Getulio Vargas Foundation, said that was unlikely.