SAO PAULO – Military records indicate that President-elect Dilma Rousseff once oversaw a cache of weapons and ammunition for militants who opposed Brazil's 1964-1985 military regime, a major newspaper reported Saturday.
The cache included Mauser rifles, machine guns, revolvers, dynamite and boxes of ammunition allegedly stolen from an army barracks in the Sao Paulo suburb of Sao Caetano do Sul in June 1969, the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper said, citing files released by the Supreme Military Court.
Much of the information in the files comes from the interrogation of dissidents arrested and tortured during the dictatorship.'
Rousseff herself was captured and tortured for her membership in the Palmares Armed Revolutionary Vanguard, though she has denied participating in violence and says she opposed such actions.
Rousseff's alleged role as a safekeeper for the arsenal is described in a report detailing the 1970 interrogation of a fellow militant who was tortured while under custody, the paper reported. The weapons allegedly were discovered in an apartment on the outskirts of Sao Paulo that served as a group safe house.
No one answered the telephone at the Supreme Military Court to verify the report's accuracy, and the president-elect had no immediate comment on the report, said presidential spokeswoman Monica Gugliano.
Rousseff joined the anti-dictatorship Vanguard group in 1967 as a 19-year-old economics student. For three years she helped lead that organization, instructed comrades on Marxist theory and wrote for an underground newspaper.
After three years underground, Rousseff was captured in 1970 by Brazil's military police and was considered a big enough catch that a military prosecutor labeled her the "Joan of Arc" of the guerrilla movement. She was tossed into the Tiradentes prison and tortured.
After being released in 1973, Rousseff moved to southern Brazil, where she reunited with her now ex-husband, Carlos Araujo, who also had been imprisoned as a militant.
Earlier this month, prosecutors filed a lawsuit seeking damages against four dictatorship-era agents accused of killings and kidnappings, including a former army captain linked to Rousseff's torture.
The civil lawsuit also involves the case of a rebel killed after leading the 1969 kidnapping of former U.S. Ambassador Charles Elbrick.