Even though the Brazilian constitution of 1988 guarantees the right to memory and the right to information, the governments of Fernando Henrique Cardoso from 1994 to 2002 and the Lula government from 2002- have effectively barred historians, family members of the dead and disappeared, and other Brazilian citizens from finding out exactly what happened during this dark period in Brazilian history. A presidential decree by Cardoso in 2002 mandated that “ultra-secret” documents could be kept private indefinitely if it is in the “interest of society and the state.” While in opposition, Lula and the Workers’Party promised that if elected they would open the archives wide open. Yet in 2005, Lula transformed the decree of Cardoso into a law, maintaining the right of the government to keep documents secret. In the meantime, those responsible for the tortures and murders have had the opportunity to destroy many important documents relating to their crimes during the dictatorship.
Students, historians and human rights groups are currently campaigning to change the law.