BRAZILIAN media this past week reported interesting stories about two former leftist guerillas, one asking for restitution from the state for lost wages, and another finally getting a tourist visa to the United States after years of rejection.
The irony in all of this is that the former fighter asking for restitution, Ana de Cerqueira Cesar Corbisier, to the tune of R$70 million ($40.9 million), joined the Açao Libertadora Nacional (National Liberation Movement) group voluntarily, according to a report in Veja magazine, after abandoning her job with the Fundação Padre Anchieta, was never imprisoned or tortured, and now wants her former employer to pay her all of her back wages from income she would have made had she not joined the guerillas!
At the same time, the Estado de Sao Paulo newspaper, reported last Saturday that a former guerilla who participated in the 1969 kidnapping of the US ambassador to Brazil Charles Elbrick, Paulo de Tarso Venceslau, was finally granted a tourist visa by the US Consulate in Sao Paulo after years of rejection.
Venceslau, who is now a businessman in the field of communications, admitted to the Estado that he has no love lost for the US, but that he just wants to be able to visit New York, Chicago and New Orleans to listen to jazz and soak in the cultural life of those cities.
The newspaper speculated that the change of heart in giving Venceslau a US visa was due to the more liberal stance of the Obama administration. The US Consulate in Sao Paulo denied this on Tuesday, saying that American visa regulations had not changed.
Even though the group of guerillas who kidnapped the US ambassador were granted amnesty in 1979 by the Brazilian government, along with other leftist fighters, and the fact that the US supported the military dictatorship that ruled Brazil from 1964 until the early 1980s, I am not surprised that the US government was not rushing forward to grant these individuals visas to visit America.
As for Corbisier, she took part in two bank robberies, one of which resulted in the shooting and death of a policeman. She was indicted for the crime, but fled the country to Cuba before she could be arrested. There she studied guerilla warfare and then moved to France. She returned to Brazil a free woman following the general amnesty of 1979, and approached the Amnesty Commission of the Ministry of Justice in 2001 asking for a government pension. She was granted one in 2007, amounting to R$2,744 a month, or around $1,600 at today’s exchange rate. Now she wants all of her back pay, which could amount to R$70 million, which is ridiculous to say the least!
As the famous Brazilian cartoonist Millôr Fernandes told Veja: “The armed struggle didn’t work out, so now they want compensation?”