Based in Wolfsburg, Germany, the Volkswagen group is the world’s second largest automobile manufacturer with a global sales revenue of €197 billion and a profit of €9 billion in 2013 ($256 billion/$12 billion). It employs 570,000 workers and sells around ten million cars a year. Volkswagen do Brasil has been producing cars since 1953 and employs over 24,000 workers in the country today.
“They held my arms behind my back and immediately put me in handcuffs. As soon as we arrived in Volkswagen’s security center, the torture began. I was beaten, punched and slapped,” Lucio Bellentani, a former Volkswagen employee at a company plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, told the commission about his experiences in 1972.
The Truth Commission was set up by Dilma Rousseff, the president of Brazil, to investigate what the government did to the people who fought against the military regime. The investigation was of particular interest to Rousseff, who was tortured herself.
A final 1,000 page report, which was published in December 2014, documents the killing and disappearing of 434 people. The commission stated that “these are only the cases it was possible to verify … despite obstacles to the investigation, notably the lack of access to armed forces’ documentation, which is officially said to have been destroyed.” Thousands of people were imprisoned for political reasons and an estimated 6,000 people were tortured.