The House of Death and a human incinerator: dark tales from Brazil’s military dictatorship

A federal court ordered the expropriation of a Rio de Janeiro sugarcane mill this week, notoriously used by the military dictatorship to incinerate the corpses of tortured dissidents

dicatatorship furnace
Cambaíba industrial complex. Photo: MST/RJ

This week, a federal court in the city of Campos dos Goytacazes, in the north of Rio de Janeiro state, ordered the condemnation of the Cambaíba industrial complex, home to an abandoned sugarcane mill of the same name. While seemingly an innocuous development, expropriating land that has been unproductive since 2012, the decision has links to one of the darkest chapters of Brazil’s military dictatorship.

During the brutal regime, the military held dozens of political prisoners at a clandestine detention center in the city of Petrópolis, morbidly nicknamed the “House of Death.” There, men and women were tortured and...

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