The other perpetrators : doctors in the service of torture during the Brazilian military regime
MetadataShow full item record
This report explores the role medical professionals played in state-sponsored torture during the Brazilian military rule. Between 1964 and 1985, counterinsurgency agencies imprisoned an estimated 50,000 people, many of them without a trial, and tortured at least 20,000 suspected of ‘subversive conduct’. Scholars often describe the implementation of torture as the exclusive work of ‘infamous interrogators’ belonging to repressive agencies of the security forces. They were not, however, the sole perpetrators of human rights violations. A large body of medical experts played a significant role in administering and justifying the regime’s mechanism of oppression. While the evidence pointing to these collaborations exists in diverse sources, scholarship dealing with this aspect of regime’s repression is scarce. The report unveils the particular roles of doctors in the torture mechanism, and places their history within two larger historiographical frameworks. Engaging with literature on Latin America’s Cold War, the study traces the history of the National Security Doctrine and examines the final form it took in Brazil in the 1960s and 1970s. It then utilizes the scholarship on torture to contextualize and illuminate the regime’s practice of inflicting pain. Finally, the report turns to studies from other disciplines to offer theoretical and conceptual frameworks elucidating professionals’ complicity in torture.