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When the memory ist political: Interviews about the brazilian context and the importance of politics

José Carlos Moreira da Silva Filho, ex vice-president of the amnesty-commission; Miriam Burger, affected by the state terror, Bárbara Conte and Josiane from Clínicas do Testemunho (Clinics of the witness) highlight the urgency and social relevance for politics of memory.

The memory is political.

This memory is not there to be exposed in museums but above all to protect us, prepare us in order to face the political challenges which are all around us.

“We thought that in the architecture of existence there was no possible place between life and death. But the disappearance creates a space of continuous instability.”

This is how Gabriel Gatti describes in his work about the vacuum generated by the disappearance of state terror victims. And in Brazil this disappearance is ambiguous: it is expressed, such physically due to the many disappeared during the dictatorship period, as by the omission of history and the missing recognition of the crimes committed by the Brazilian State against its population. Miriam was tortured and after that she went to exile to Chile and France, where she passed years of her live. She told us that the violence she suffered became a species of tabu she could not even talk about with her family.

The consequences of the violence suffered under state terror which was committed in Brazil between 1946 and 1988 is not only affecting the victims and their families, but also the democracy itself. Partly, the reparation policies didn’t happen until today due to the amnesty process itself, which - as José Carlos Moreira Filho explains - was ambiguous.

“After years of repression of the amnesty movements, the military dictatorship ‘conceded amnesty’ - in their own terms, as if it was an initiative of the military government itself. If there was a word which characterizes the amnesty in Brazil it would be ambiguity, because it had a side which I would call positive. Without it, the redemocratization-process would have delayed even more to happen. There were groups within the military forces which wanted the dictatorship to last longer, so they tried to realize several attacks which were attributed to groups labelled as terrorists to justify the continuity of the dictatorship. The amnesty represents a victory within this scenario because it led to the redemocratization. But this redemocratization was realized in a ‘slow, gradual and safe’ waz, in the terms of the militaries. They controlled and watched out that all the possible and necessary measures were taken in order that the redemocratization-process would not turn against them, that there was no responsibilization and that nobody would talk about it for a long time. And that's how it happened in the end.“

José Carlos Moreira da Silva Filho is holding a Master’s in Theory and Philosophy of Law at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) and a Doctor’s in Law and Social Relations at the Federal University of Paraná (UFPR). He is professor at the Faculty of Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul (PUCRS) and ex-Counselor such as ex-Vice President of the Amnesty Commission of the Ministry for Justice

Thus, the matters about responsibilization and memory were set aside - without regulamentary - until 1995 when in Brazil the Commission of the Death and Political Disappeared came up. Their work was continued by the Commission of Amnesty in 2005. The actuation of the commission with the reporting of the affected started to generate a feeling of injustice. When the persons reported his or her situation, the state began to apologize by the means of the commission as a historical inversion in the analysis of the processes.

After Brazil was judged at the Inter American Court for Human Rights, “Clinicas do Testemunho” (Clinics of the witness) came up as a project for reparation. The psychoanalyst Bárbara Conte tells us about the importance of a place like this:

“If you go to a judgement, the victims need to present proofs all the time, they have to proof that they have been affected by the state violence. At Clínicas do Testemunho not. The persons receive support and do not have to present proofs. Their witness is the proof.”

Barbara Conte holds a Master's in Psychology by the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Grande do Sul and a Doctor’s in Fundamentals and Development en Psychoanalysis of the Autonomous University Madrid. She is a full member of the Sigmund Freud Association for Psychoanalysis where she coordinates the project SIG Psychoanalytic Interventions and the project Clínicas do Testemunho

The project Clínicas do Testemunho came up within the context of the Sigmund Freud Psychoanalytic Association. In focuses on the psychological attention given to the victims, families and groups which were affected by the violence committed by the state terror between 1946 and 1988. The crimes of the State have been committed systematically and are covered up until today. The politics of memory are fundamental to protect us from state violence.

Livro Vó Alda (Book of granny Alda) - collection of stories edited in the context of the project Clínicas do Testemunho

The memory remains alive and we have to deal with this matter. Especially politically. Especially when the State omits and covers up its historical crimes.

Soon we will have the complete interviews in a video.

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