Documents held by the U.S. State Department which detailed the torture of political prisoners from January 1967 to December 1977 during Brazil´s military dictatorship were given to the Brazilian National Truth Commission on July 2. Recently released to the public, revelations on U.S. knowledge and support for the military's abuses have become better known to the Brazilian people.
Over 400 people were killed or disappeared during this period, and thousands tortured.
The 43 documents given to National Truth Commission by the Ministry of Exterior Relations outline abuses committed by the dictatorship, in power from 1964 to 1985 and U.S. government knowledge of the abuses. U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, William Rountree, is presumed to be the author of at least one of the cables.
This cable from July 1972 explicitly shows U.S. knowledge and support of the abuses occurring. From the U.S. embassy in Brazil, a cable titled “Allegation of torture in Brazil,” said that Brazilian officials were working to stop “excessive police measures,” but “without undermining the continuing and notably successful battle against terrorism.” The cable goes on to say that reductions in torture were “undoubtedly due in part to [Brazilian government] success in substantially reducing number of active terrorists.”
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden handed over the documents to President Dilma Rousseff on an official visit June 20. President Rousseff herself was detained and tortured during the military dictatorship. The documents were interpreted as a peace offering for the recent National Security Agency scandal in which it was revealed that the U.S. was spying on Brazilian government agencies and President Rousseff herself.