The Riddle Of The Zoot Essay

1480 words - 6 pages

Matt Nguyen

Professor Ruvalcaba

History 364

History 364 Final: The Cycle of Pain and Truth

Throughout the history of South America, authoritarian regimes and the ways they have

held power were similar in the methods they used to maintain their iron fist leadership. In Brazil,

like so many other countries in South America, torture was a popular form of brutality in

controlling the civilian population to put down any forms of dissent or unrest. To understand the

nature of torture in Brazil, you must first make yourself aware of the definition of torture which

is, “The action or practice of inflicting severe pain on someone as a punishment or to force them
...view middle of the document...

To the

military administration of Brazil, “They saw themselves as the protectors of one

interpretation”(Weschler, pg48) of the constitutional order. With this, one can conclude that the

military thought that their leadership was needed for their own country to survive and prosper.

They not only saw themselves as the protectors of their government, but they saw themselves as

the bulwark between political and economic turmoil vs the changes they wished to bring to their

country. Torture was going to be their tool in, “Laying the groundwork for a civilization that

would last a thousand years- that, far from having to justify themselves for occasional lapses,

they would be celebrated by all posterity for the breadth of their achievement.”(Weschler, pg 48)

It did not matter to the military junta the cost of their suppression of the population and the

effects it would have onto the people for generations to come. Any signs of resistance had to be

put down with extreme prejudice lest the leadership’s vision for Brazil to become a world power

would all be for nothing. The perceived threats to this new order were students, members of the

Catholic church who were not like their conservative brethren, Communists, and workers that

formed unions to oppose military rule. On orders of the leadership, the military would target and

hunt down thousands of Brazilian citizens for torture to silence them. Before torture even began,

the government issued Institutional Act Number Five in December 1968, which suspended

habeas corpus, closed Congress, and ended democratic government. With this already done,

nothing could protect the “enemies” of the state as with this act, torture was more or less

legitimized. Now it just had to be carried out.

The process of how torture was carried out in Brazil by the military was a very organized

elaborate system. There was two phases when it came to military justice. It always began with

kidnapping the suspect to take them to a nearby police station. There, the horrors experienced by

thousands awaited the victims. The most common form of torture was through physical pain

either being beaten or strapped to an electric chair. Some of the electrical chairs included the

parrot’s perch or the dragon’s chair that would either kill or scar individuals for life. Other

methods of physical torture that the police wouldn’t hesitate to use were rape, drownings, and

starvation. Psychological torture was also very popular and a particular method that was usually

used was, “there were cases in which a person would be kidnapped from his home in the middle

of the night, taken to an unknown place, kept there for three months, and forced to listen to

people’s screams every night”(Weschler, pg 45) Whatever method of torture that was used on an

individual, they were then forced to sign a written confession...

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