Rio de Janeiro | The German car manufacturer Volkswagen announced on Wednesday that it had signed an agreement with the courts to compensate former employees of its subsidiary in Brazil for human rights violations committed during the military dictatorship in this South American country.
Former employees and their families had been asking Volkswagen for five years, arguing that its security service in Brazil had collaborated with the military regime (1964-1985) to identify possible suspects, who were subsequently arrested and tortured.
According to this agreement with the national and regional tax authorities in Brazil, VW will pay 36 million real (5.5 million euros, 6.4 million US $) in compensation, including 16.8 million real for employees and their employees. families, the company said in a statement. Funds will also be allocated to various projects, including a memorial to the victims of the military regime.
“We regret the violations that have taken place in the past. For Volkswagen, it is important to take responsibility for this negative chapter in Brazilian history and encourage transparency, ”Volkswagen executive Hiltrud Werner said in the statement.
An independent report commissioned by the company in 2016 showed that Volkswagen security agents in Brazil had cooperated with the military regime.
This collaboration lasted from 1969 to 1979 and led to the arrest of “at least seven employees”, at a time when the use of torture by the political police was well known, according to this report.
The Brazilian military regime is responsible for the deaths or disappearances of at least 434 people, according to the National Truth Commission created to investigate the crimes of the dictatorship. Some 20,000 people were also tortured.
President Jair Bolsonaro, who was a captain in the army at the time, is an open admirer of the dictatorship.
The far-right leader created controversy by declaring, when he was still an MP in 2016, that “the mistake of the dictatorship was to torture without killing” its opponents, and had ordered as leader of the State that are organized in the barracks “the commemorations which are due” for the 55th anniversary of the coup in 2019.