Brazillian President Dilma Rousseff receiving a copy of the truth commission report in Brasilia, December 2014.
Joedson Alves / Courtesy Reuters

Some four decades ago, Brazil’s military government, which ruled from 1964 to 1985, arrested a 22-year-old Marxist guerilla named Dilma Rousseff. Over the course of nearly three years in captivity, she was subjected to electric shocks, beaten, and suspended from a rod bound to her hands and feet.

Rousseff, of course, became Brazil’s president in 2011, following Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Fernando Henrique Cardoso, who were also jailed during the same period for their dissent. But she rarely spoke publicly of her imprisonment. And thanks to a 1979 amnesty law, originally designed to protect dissidents in exile, many of those responsible moved on without fear of prosecution.

In December 2014, Brazil’s National Truth Commission, or Comissão Nacional da Verdade, challenged this state of affairs by completing what may be Latin America’s last major investigation into human rights abuses during the twentieth century. Announcing the release of the

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