Former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has expressed her indignation with “Equilibrist Hope,” a federal police operation undertaken at Minas Gerais Federal University to detain 17 staff members allegedly involved in embezzlement of public funds for the construction of the Amnesty Memorial.
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She characterized the move as being “gaudy” and a “slap to those granted amnesty, disrespect to the memory of those tortured and who fell in the fight against the dictatorship.”
Without receiving any prior notice to depose, the suspects — deans, former deans, vice-deans and former vice-deans — were coercively ushered away by federal police to testify, according to Brasil 24/7.
In a public statement, signed “Dilma Rousseff, Elected President of Brazil,” Rousseff notes that the federal police, over 80 on this occasion, mounted “yet another gaudy operation, this time to ascertain suspects involving the Amnesty Memorial, a work executed by Minas Gerais Federal University, UFMG, and completed with federal government funds.”
While lamenting the “State of Emergency continuing to project itself over Brazilian institutions,” Rousseff recalled that the latest siege on a publicly-funded university comes in the wake of the “baseless operation unleashed at Santa Catarina Federal University, which provoked the suicide of dean Luiz Carlos Canciller.”
On Oct. 2, Carlos Canciller took his own life after having been removed as dean of Santa Catarina Federal University during a federal police investigation into alleged irregularities in 2006, a decade before he assumed the deanship in 2016.
In a public suicide letter, Canciller expressed confusion about the process that led to the incarceration of him and his colleagues. He cited an internal investigation that ignored their testimony, selective information forwarded to the federal police, a probe based on testimony that didn’t allow for ample defense as well as being accused of incidents related to the previous administration.
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“We were arrested, taken to the penitentiary complex, stripped of our clothes and incarcerated, paradoxically the university that I direct since May 2016 was recognized as the sixth best higher education federal institution in Brazil," he wrote.
Canciller lamented that even after being released from prison, he and his colleagues were “impeded from entering the university.”
Brazil’s National Union of Students and the National Confederation of Workers in Teaching Establishments have also issued public statements condemning the most recent federal police operation at Minas Gerais Federal University.