Brazil’s former dictator Ernesto Geisel personally approved the summary execution of his regime’s perceived enemies, according to a newly unearthed CIAmemo that has reopened a bitter debate over one of the darkest chapters of contemporary Brazilian history.
Matias Spektor, the São Paulo-based academic who discovered and distributedthe document on Thursday, called it “the most disturbing I have read in 20 years of research”.
The memorandum, sent to then secretary of state, Henry Kissinger, by the CIA director, William Colby, on 11 April 1974, details a meeting it said had taken place a few days earlier between Geisel and three Brazilian generals.
One tells Geisel, who ruled Brazil from 1974 until 1979, the regime “cannot ignore the subversive and terrorist threat” it faces. “Extra-legal methods should continue to be employed against dangerous subversives,” Gen Milton Tavares de Souza is quoted as saying.
De Souza informs Geisel that 104 such “subversives” were summarily executed by military intelligence in the previous year – a policy a second general insists should continue.