Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs
Brazil Initiative

Conference at Hebrew University to Explore Brazilian Dictatorship's Legacy

December 9, 2014

Brazil Fifty Years after the 1964 Military Coup d'Etat: The Pursuit of Democracy and Justice Continues

International Symposium, December 14-16, 2014, Hebrew University in Jerusalem

This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Brazilian military coup d’état that ushered in a twenty-one year dictatorship. Throughout Brazil and in universities around the world, scholars have organized conferences to analyze the process that brought the Armed Forces to power. These events have discussed life under authoritarian rule, diverse forms of resistance, the nature of the slow-motion transition to democracy, and the legacies of the military regime.

 In 2011, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff appointed the National Truth Commission to examine the State’s involvement in gross violations of human rights during that period. Similar state and local commissions have also been set up. The National Truth Commission will release its final report on December 10, 2014, which is International Human Rights Day.

Brazil Fifty Years after the 1964 Military Coup d’État: The Pursuit of Democracy and Justice Continues will take place four days after the release of the Truth Commission’s final report. The International Symposium will be a privileged opportunity to examine the history and legacy of the Brazilian military regime (1964-85). Scholars and legal experts from Brazil and the United States will join Israeli specialists on Latin America to discuss: (1) the nature of the regime; (2) resistance and exile; (3) relations between Brazil, Israel, and the Brazilian Jewish community during this period; (4) the search for truth and justice in the transition to democratic rule; (5) the consolidation of democracy in Brazil over the last three decades; and (6) the legacy of the dictatorship, the rightwing, and anti-Semitism in Brazil today.

 In collaboration with the Confederação Israelita do Brasil (CONIB), which published a dossier about the Jewish contribution toward building democracy in Brazil in Cadernos CONIB (no. 2, 2014)the International Symposium will also pay special tribute to Vladimir Herzog, an important figure in the fight against the military regime and in favor of democracy.

Vladmir Herzog, the son of Yugoslavian Jews who immigrated to Brazil in the 1940s to escape Nazi persecution, became a prominent journalist and the editor-in-chief of TV Cultura in São Paulo. In 1975, he was arrested for allegedly belonging to a clandestine organization. Killed while being tortured, the Brazilian government tried to cover up his murder by claiming that Herzog had committed suicide in jail. His death provoked national and international outrage. This year the National Truth Commission officially recognized that Herzog had been murdered while in police custody.

We are pleased that Nemércio Nogueira a director of the Vladimir Herzog Institute in São Paulo, Brazil, will be present to represent the Herzog family on this occasion.