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Former President Geisel Supported Executions during Dictatorship, According to CIA Document

05/11/2018 - 12h09

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FROM SÃO PAULO

A confidential document issued by the US Department of State reported that Ernesto Geisel, Brazil's president from 1974 to 1979, supported the extension of a policy that called for the "summary executions" of those considered enemies of the military dictatorship.

He is also said to have ordered then-head of the National Information Service (SNI) João Baptista Figueiredo - who would later go on to replace him, acting as president from 1979-1985 - to authorize said executions.

The document - which, with the exception of two paragraphs that remain redacted, was disclosed back in 2015 - was posted on social media by Matias Spektor, a Folha columnist and International Relations professor at the Getulio Vargas Foundation (FGV).

1º.out.1976/Folhapress
Ernesto Geisel, Brazilian president from 1974 to 1979
Ernesto Geisel, Brazilian president from 1974 to 1979

Mr. Spektor said that the document was "the most disturbing confidential document" that he had ever read in 20 years of research.

"It was not known whether Geisel had transferred summary execution decisions to the presidency. Not only was the inner circle aware of such decisions, it took full responsibility over them. That's what's so impressive and shocking," Mr. Spektor said.

Another revealing piece of intelligence contained in the document was its claim that 104 people had already been summarily executed by the Army Intelligence Center (CIE).

The document in question is a memo that was signed by CIA director William Colby. He gave an account of a meeting that supposedly took place in the beginning of the Geisel government, on March 30, 1974, between the president, Tavares, Figueiredo and General Confúcio Danton de Paula Avelino, who was set to take over the Army Intelligence Center.

The Army's Commanding Office issued a statement saying that the classified documents concerning the period in question that "could have corroborated the events that were narrated were destroyed in accordance with the norms that existed at that time".

Brazilian President Michel Temer declined to comment on the matter.

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