Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff will receive US$10,000 in reparations from Rio State for the torture she was subjected to while jailed as a leftist guerrilla during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship, her office said on Friday.
“Mrs Rousseff will donate the US$10,000 she will receive in June from the Rio government for her jailing under the military regime (1964-85) to the group Torture Never Again,” presidential office spokesman Thomas Traumann said in a statement.
The presidency said the money would be shared out among a total of 316 people at the human rights group.
“Donations are always welcome, especially coming from the president,” Torture Never Again founder Cecilia Coimbra said.
Now 64, Rousseff joined the battle against the military dictatorship at age 16 in Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais State.
She was a member of various revolutionary groups, although she says she never shot or killed anyone.
In 1970, she was arrested, held for nearly three years and repeatedly tortured in the hope that she would identify her fellow guerrillas.
Joined by all her living presidential predecessors on Wednesday, Rousseff swore in a seven--member truth commission tasked with probing the rights abuses perpetrated from 1946 to 1988, a time span exceeding the dictatorship.
However, a 1979 amnesty law for those who carried out the -dictatorship-era crimes was upheld by the Brazilian Supreme Court in 2010 and remains in effect.
“Brazil deserves the truth, the new generations deserve the truth and above all, those who lost friends and relatives and who continue to suffer as if they were dying again each day deserve the truth,” Rousseff said on Wednesday, choking back tears as she read out names of relatives of the victims.
It marks the first time Brazil has endeavored to provide some accounting for the dictatorship-era rights abuses.
Unlike other South American countries ruled by right-wing dictatorships that committed political abuses and killings from the 1960s to the 1980s — Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Chile — Brazil has never put the perpetrators on trial.
The government officially recognizes 400 dead and missing during the military dictatorship, compared with 30,000 in Argentina and more than 3,200 in Chile.
The Inter-American Court of Human Rights in November 2010 dismissed Brazil’s amnesty law as legally invalid, saying it was incompatible with the American Convention on Human Rights.