A street of fewer than 200 meters in the heart of São Paulo bears the name of Vladimir Herzog. It is an homage to a journalist arrested and killed by the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil between 1964 and 1985. It is also an exception: most streets named after people from that period render homage instead to dictators and their collaborators.
Such is the case of Avenue Presidente Castelo Branco, part of Marginal Tietê, a busy highway complex across São Paulo. Less than 500 meters away from Vladimir Herzog Street, the avenue was named after the Field Marshal that seized power after the 1964 coup d’état and initiated an authoritarian process that would kill Herzog and at least 433 other people. Many victims remain “disappeared” to this day, as their bodies were never found.
Across Brazil, several streets bear the names of dark characters from our history – including some of the 377 state agents identified as torturers by the National Truth Commission, a committee that investigated crimes committed by the state during the military regime.