The body of Brazil’s former president João Goulart is to be exhumed to discover if he was the victim of an assassination plot mounted by the military dictatorship that ousted him in 1964.
A team of experts arrived on Wednesday to inspect the tomb in Sao Borja, Rio Grande do Sul, where the remains are buried, to decide what equipment will be needed to open the grave and whether the area needs to be isolated. Work will start in September and the remains will be transferred to Brasilia for examination at the Instituto Nacional de Pericia (National Institute of Expertise).
The former president died in 1976 while in exile in Argentina. The official cause of death was given as a heart attack but no autopsy was ever undertaken. Relatives and close friends of Goulart maintain a suspicion that the ex-President, who came to power in 1961 and was deposed by a military coup in April 1964, was poisoned by Uruguayan secret agents working on behalf of the Brazilian dictatorship. It is claimed the agents substituted medicines administered to Goulart.
Like many other progressive politicians during the Cold War era, Jango, as he was nicknamed at the time, was accused of being a Communist on more than one occasion because of his left-wing policies.
In July, the Brazilian government gave the go-ahead for investigators to start the exhumation after the Comissao Nacional da Verdade (CNV – National Truth Commission), a body tasked with uncovering past wrongdoings by the military regime that ruled Brazil between 1964 and 1985, agreed to uphold the family’s request for an inquiry.
“This is a historic challenge which will turn a page and resolve the suspicions of our family,” said João Vicente Goulart, the former president’s son.
Investigations conducted by the CNV indicate that Goulart was a victim of Operation Condor, a campaign of political repression and terror implemented by the right-wing dictatorships of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay that persecuted opponents in 1975.
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