Latin America

Brazil can learn from Argentina and Chile’s reckoning with dictatorship past

While challenging the crimes of the military dictatorship is seen as a "leftist" cause in Brazil, their South American neighbors have made great strides in reckoning with their bloody past

argentina chile brazil dictatorship past
“Dictatorship Never Again” demonstration in São Paulo (August 2019). Photo: Roberto Parizotti/FP

Even before being elected President of Brazil in 2018, Jair Bolsonaro had a clear and unwavering position on the repressive and violent military dictatorship that ravaged the country from 1964 to 1985. Besides denying the existence of the military coup itself, Mr. Bolsonaro said back in the 1990s that he was “in favor of torture,” arguing that “through voting, you won’t change anything in the country.”

However, until becoming a household Brazilian name—which only happened in the last few years—Jair Bolsonaro’s opinions on the dictatorship were restricted to a dark corner of politics, making him an example of where not...

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