Bolsonaro Orders Commemoration of Brazil's 1964 Military Coup

(Bloomberg) -- President Jair Bolsonaro, a former Army captain, ordered the country’s armed forces to hold “appropriate commemorations” to mark the anniversary of the date the military seized power 55 years ago.

Bolsonaro “does not believe the 31 March 1964 was a military coup,” presidential spokesman Otavio Rego Barros told reporters on Monday. “He believes that society brought together civilians and the military and we managed to put our country on track.” While some within the armed forces have long observed the date, an order to do so by the government is unprecedented in the democratic era.

March 31 marks the beginning of a military rule that lasted for over two decades in Brazil. Hundreds were killed or tortured by the armed forces, who justified their actions by arguing they averted a communist takeover. Unlike in other Latin American countries, Brazil has never had a comprehensive reckoning with its military past, with an amnesty law approved after the country’s return to democracy.

Throughout his career, Bolsonaro has praised Brazil’s period of military rule. In office, he has has shown no signs of moderating his view. In recent weeks he unsettled many in Paraguay and Chile for eulogizing their brutal dictators.

In response to Bolsonaro’s order, opposition lawmakers are planning a pro-democracy rally on March 31.

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