'Bolsonaro's Hero Tortured Me,' Says Journalist Imprisoned 9 Years by Dictatorship

Antonio Pinheiro Salles, arrested in Porto Alegre, in 1970, returns to the state capital 49 years later and details torture

Porto Alegre

Journalist Antonio Pinheiro Salles, 82, suffered various injuries at the hand of the military dictatorship: he lost his teeth, his jaws are platinum, and he became deaf.

He was arrested in Porto Alegre in 1970. This year he left Goiânia to return to the capital for the first time since being arrested. He returned on the very day he was taken to jail: December 12th.

Antônio Pinheiro Salles. Foto: Marcos Nagelstein - Marcos Nagelstein

While standing in front of the building where the Dops (the organ responsible for the repression and torture in the military dictatorship)—today headquarters of the Rio Grande do Sul Civil Police—Antonio said he has no hatred. But he remembered his torture suffered there under the command of Deputy Pedro Seelig. "They inserted a bushing into my anus while hanging from the macaw stick."

He spent nine years in jail, the last one in Sao Paulo, where he suffered torture under the command of Carlos Alberto Brilhante Ustra. Ustra is a military man repeatedly praised by President Jair Bolsonaro. "The impunity of the torturers makes it easier for his hero to be the one who tortured me in the worst possible way," he said.

Pinheiro Salles's activism began in the student movement. He participated in university students protests against the military regime and served in the Polop (Marxist Worker Political Organization).

After AI-5, he joined the armed struggle, passing through the POC (Communist Workers Party) and, later, the MCR (Revolutionary Communist Movement), whose actions were concentrated in Rio Grande do Sul.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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