Did Brazil's football boss spark murder of ex-BBC journalist?
The blood-stained hands of José Maria Marin
By Andrew Jennings
Tuesday February 5, 2013
Brasilia, December 11, 2012: Congressman Romario slips quietly into the committee room. A hundred pairs of eyes follow the iconic Baixinho - 'Shorty' as he heads first towards the press benches. With both hands he clasps one of mine. 'Andrew Jennings, my friend, how are you today?'
He's on great form, light on his feet, relaxed, smiling, the glint in his eye signals that one of football's greatest goalscorers intends to net another one this morning. As ever, we the spectators won't see it coming, he doesn't do build-up, Romario just does it. Boum!
'All the better for seeing you, mate,' I reply. He laughs and walks away, weaving around the tables to take his seat among the members of the Sport and Tourism committee.
Romario is patient for a few minutes. Then the chairman on the podium throws him the ball, it's his turn to speak. He's not smiling now.
'People stop me in the street. They say, bring back Teixeira, this new guy is worse.'
In 16 words, he's turned on the ball and, Boum!
Marin: What's he done?
For 23 years Ricardo Teixeira embezzled millions of dollars from FIFA and the Brazilian national football association, the CBF. The BBC discovered documents proving his corruption, he was finally forced out of football nine months ago and the fans put away their 'Fora Teixeira' banners.
How can the new guy heading the CBF, 81-year-old José Maria Marin, possibly be worse? Sure he's deep in the looting of Brazilian football but Marin couldn't match Tricky Ricky's decades of thieving.
It's something off the pitch, something vile, something from the past, from the era of the military dictatorship. The rage is boiling up in São Paulo, demonstrators are on the streets outside José Maria Marin's home, there's anger in the papers, he's accused in the State Senate of having 'bloodstained hands.' What's he done?
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Belo Horizonte, March 31, 1964: In the early hours General Luís Carlos Guedes orders his tanks to roll. Superstitious, he refuses to wait a few more days; 'I never start anything serious when we have a crescent moon,' he tells his fellow plotters. Buffoons with more braid than brains, yes. Never led their troops into real battle where they might die, correct.
But the Generals had guns, aircraft, battleships and upright steel chairs plugged into the mains supply and were restless. It was fourteen years since they relinquished their last 20-year spell of military rule. They watched, horrified, as Leftist politicians were elected and free workers associations grew in strength.
Their friends in the CIA and the Pentagon didn't approve either. New President João Goulart was from a wealthy land-owning family but he was taxing foreign companies, limiting how much profit could be exported and planning to redistribute land. Education was being expanded, adult illiteracy tackled.
In those days the American Dream was a Latin America that bowed the knee to Washington. Independent foreign policies south of the border were not permitted. When President Goulart opposed sanctions on Castro's Cuba the White House dusted down their coup blueprint. Opposition groups were bankrolled.
Human rights extinguished
An aircraft carrier and destroyers carrying guided missiles sailed but weren't needed. It took the Generals only 72 hours to destroy democracy.
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Brasilia, December 13, 1968: The Generals took four years to get round to making a law – famously known as Institutional Act number 5 – that gave whoever happened to be their puppet president at the time the power to do any damn thing he wanted. The Congress was mothballed, most political parties banned and human rights extinguished. In passing, their censors were let loose on the press, music, films and theatre.
The Generals knowing they were illegitimate and facing popular hatred declared war against opponents. There was an even darker war that became known as Operation Bandeirantes – the OBAN – police and military officials secretly funded by Brazilian businessmen and American corporations, who paid bonuses to eradicate trade unionists in their factories.
These units tapped phones, kidnapped dissidents, interrogated, tortured and murdered political prisoners at will. In São Paulo their Death Squad was notorious.
In 1970 one of the thousands captured was a 22-year-old student, Dilma Rousseff,who had joined a clandestine urban guerilla group. Over two years the torturers went to work on her in São Paulo, Rio and Juiz de Fora. Interviewed by investigators a decade ago Ms Rousseff described beatings, being tied up naked and given electrical shocks to the most sensitive parts of her body, at one session her uterus hemorrhaging.
'I remember the fear when my skin trembled,' she said in 2001. 'Something like that marks us for the rest of our lives.'
There is an astonishing photograph of Ms Rousseff in court being sentenced to six years jail. She is expressionless, but doesn't cower. Up on the bench are two military judges, both covering their faces, shamed by their service to the dictatorship.
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