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Anadolu Agency

SÃO PAULO – A former army colonel who recently gave evidence of his involvement in the torturing and killing of political adversaries during Brazil’s military dictatorship has been found dead at his Rio home, local media reported on Friday.

Paulo Malhães, 76, was discovered in his apartment in the Nova Iguaçu area, to the north of Rio de Janeiro. The local police homicide division say he was suffocated.

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SÃO PAULO – The Brazilian government will not force Internet companies, such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, to set up data storage centres in Brazil, the country’s president Dilma Rousseff said on Thursday, a day after signing the country’s groundbreaking Internet Bill into law.

A clause requiring that information about Brazilian Internet users be stored in local data centres in Brazil, subject to Brazilian law, was struck from the bill, the Marco Civil, to ensure it was passed after seven years of toing and froing in Congress.

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RIO DE JANEIRO – Violence, looting and vandalism have rocked part of Rio de Janeiro after police launched an operation on Friday morning to retake commercial buildings which thousands of squatters had moved into just days before.

Fulfilling a court order to clear the premises, around 1,700 military police moved in at dawn to evict at least 5,000 people now living the disused complex of four buildings owned by Brazilian mobile phone company Oi S.A., located in the Engenho Novo district of Rio’s North Zone.

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SÃO PAULO – A viral social media campaign against rape and sexual harassment that spawned nationwide protests in Brazil is giving Brazil’s feminists fresh support, which they intend to use to change the way Brazil’s schoolchildren are taught women’s rights.

The surge in support was sparked by the shocking findings of a study published on 27 March by the Institute of Applied Economic Research (IPEA) on the attitudes of Brazilians towards sexual harassment and rape.

The research found 65% of the 3,810 people surveyed agreed, partly or completely, with the statement: “Women who used clothes that show off their body deserve to be attacked.”

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Federal troops will begin to occupy the complex of 15 favela communities that make up the Complexo da Maré in the north of Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, the chief of the city’s Military Command Center of Operations confirmed in a press conference on Thursday.

The ten-square-kilometre swathe of favelas is nestled near the city’s Galeão International Airport alongside a number of major thoroughfares, including fast transit systems to the centre, where the Maracanã World Cup stadium is located, and to Barra da Tijuca, the city’s main Olympic site.

The Maré area is also thought to be home to around 130,000 inhabitants.

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Folha newspaper, 1 April 1964.

Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, 1 April 1964: “Congress declares presidency vacant” and “João Goulart (JG) in Rio Grande do Sul (RGS) says he’ll resist”

Brazil has marked 50 years since the 1964 coup d’état which ushered in 21 years of military dictatorship and the disappearance or death of almost 500 people during that time.

Thousands of others were arrested, exiled, tortured and deprived of their political rights.

President Dilma Rousseff, who fought against the dictatorship before being jailed and tortured by the military, said at a special event at the Presidential Palace on Monday that the coup, known as the Golpe, had to be remembered as part of the process which led to Brazil clawing back democracy.

“We learned the value of freedom, the value of an independent, active parliament and judiciary,” Rousseff said in an emotional speech. “We learned the value of a free press, the value of voting.”

“What is required of us today is that we remember and tell the story of what happened: we owe this to all those who died and disappeared, to those who were tortured and persecuted, to their families, and to all Brazilians,” Rousseff concluded.

Tanks in Rio de Janeiro. Golpe 1964. Photo: Arquivo Nacional

Tanks in Rio de Janeiro. Golpe 1964. Photo: Arquivo Nacional

On March 31, 1964, troops led by General Olímpio Mourão headed for Rio de Janeiro from neighbouring Minas Gerais state to execute the coup which had been years in the planning.

Battling a spluttering economy and dwindling support President João Goulart, known as “Jango”, was ousted from power and eventually fled with his family to the Uruguayan capital, Montevideo.

Investigations ongoing

Pedro Simon, who is still a senator at the age of 84 and was a personal friend of President Goulart, told UOL news website that the coup “took everyone by surprise” and that “no one thought things would erupt the way they did”.

Goulart died 12 years later in exile in Argentina, in what was reported at the time as a heart attack.

However, suspicions that he had been killed, possibly poisoned as part of Operation Condor to rid South America of left-wing politicians and their supporters, have never faded.

In March 2013, a National Truth Commission in Brazil, sanctioned by President Rousseff to investigate human rights violations for a period which includes the military dictatorship, announced that it would look into Goulart’s death at his family’s behest.  His body was exhumed in November and taken to Brasília for formal analysis.

There has been mixed reaction to the Commission, whose mandate includes attempting to establish what happened during the years of military rule through witnesses and re-examining available evidence.

Critics of the investigation from the military say they believe the inquiry is an attempt by the political left to exact revenge.

As recently as last week Colonel Paulo Malhães gave testimony to the Commission in which he admitted killing political prisoners and disfiguring and hiding their bodies.

Golpe anniversary protest. São Paulo. Photo: Estadão

Victims of the repressions mark the 50th anniversary of the Golpe at a protest in São Paulo. Photo: Estadão Conteúdo

Opening old wounds

But a 1979 amnesty law, according to which no one can be tried for any human rights abuses committed during the dictatorship, means that Malhães will not stand trial.

That’s one reason why the NTC has come under fire from relatives of those who were lost, some of whom believe it has done little more than open up old wounds with minimal gain.

And although there have been a small number of ceremonies and protests, including from the victims of the military era and others, unthinkably, urging today’s military to topple President Rousseff’s centre-left government by force, Brazilians appear by and large to have chosen to consign this chapter of recent history to the past.

Written for Anadolu Agency  |  SÃO PAULO  |  31 March 2014

A Brazilian journalist who organised an online protest voicing dismay at the results of a study on the attitudes of Brazilians towards rape and violence against women has received numerous messages from men threatening to rape her.

Nana Queiroz, 28, received the threats after her online protest Eu Não Mereço Ser Estuprada (“I don’t deserve to be raped”) went viral on Friday 29 March.

On Thursday a study by the IPEA revealed the attitudes of over 3,800 Brazilians across Brazil towards sexual harassment, rape and violence against women.

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Sao Paulo World Cup Protest. 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

Protesters shout: “Hey, FIFA! Pay my tariff-a!” São Paulo World Cup Protest, 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

Protesters took to the streets in a number of Brazilian cities on Thursday to show their disapproval of the government’s spending of public money on this year’s World Cup.

The biggest protest, in São Paulo, saw around 1,000 people march down the central business avenue, Avenida Paulista for the fourth time in 2014.

See photos of the protest

A similar number of military police also lined the streets, protecting businesses and onlookers from potential vandalism and violence – seen at previous events. Traffic was diverted away from the protest and police blocked demonstrators from entering side streets.

Sao Paulo World Cup Protest. 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

São Paulo World Cup protest blocks part of the city’s main business avenue, Avenida Paulista. 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

Although agitated masked individuals, purporting to be from the anarchy-loving Black Bloc group, united at the head of the protest and verbally abused photojournalists at the scene on more than one occasion, Thursday’s protests saw no violence and no arrests unlike previous editions of the demonstrations held under the general banner of “Não Vai Ter Copa” (Portuguese for “There Will Be No Cup”).

The protest largely related to the upcoming World Cup, but some condemned police violence: protesters reminded onlookers of the recent case of Cláudio Ferreira, who was dragged behind a police car through the streets of Rio after being shot in a police operation against armed gangs in a favela community in the city.

Others gave a reminder of next week’s 50th anniversary of the 1964 coup d’état and ensuing military dictatorship – of which protesters said today’s military police are a living legacy.

One of the São Paulo protest’s organisers, 20-year-old Vitor Araújo, said that its peaceful nature had shown that the demonstrators just wanted a platform to air their grievances, and that police had provoked tensions and violence at previous events:

“We’ve shown that things don’t start with us,” Araúja told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper. “We organized ourselves in such a way to avoid any kind of problem, as they start only when the military police repress them.”

At the end of the protest, the city’s fifth edition was announced for Tuesday 15 April.

Coordinated protests

William Oliveira, a 30-year-old tourism student from São Paulo told the Anadolu Agency that it was his right to come to the street to protests: “I’m hoping the country will improve now that people are coming out onto the streets, going online, and fighting for their rights.”

Sao Paulo World Cup Protest. 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

“There Will Be No World Cup!” 27 March 2014. Photo by Ben Tavener

“We’re here to protest, legitimately, against public money being spent for private ends,” São Paulo teacher Jaqueline Meire, 24, told AA.

“We know there is no way we can take back the money that has already been invested in the [World Cup] stadiums, but I hope that as a result of these protests our grievances, demands for public services like transport, health and education, will be addressed.”

An anti-World Cup demonstration was also held in Rio de Janeiro, where protesters gathered at the Central Station, before marching on the city’s main Avenida Presidente Vargas road.

Similar small-scale events were also held in Fortaleza and Belo Horizonte.

Despite their small scale, the nationwide coordination of Thursday’s protests was reminiscent of the mass protests seen during the Confederations Cup in June 2013 and the way in which they were organized.

And although Thursday’s protests are a far cry from last year’s mass protests, in terms of numbers, they have maintained surprising momentum and appear intent on continuing until the World Cup begins in São Paulo on June 12.

Indeed, a protest has already been called for near the city’s World Cup Arena Corinthians stadium, also known as the Itaquerão, for the tournament’s opening match between Brazil and Croatia.

Extended version of article written for Anadolu Agency