German automaker Volkswagen announced on Wednesday that it would pay around 36 million reais (around 5.5 million euros) in damages to former employees of its Brazilian subsidiary persecuted during the military dictatorship in Brazil, between 1964 and 1985, after the emergence of evidence suggesting that the company systematically collaborated with the Brazilian military regime.
A government-appointed commission investigating abuses committed during the Brazilian dictatorship has found evidence that companies, including Volkswagen, secretly helped the Brazilian military identify “subversive” suspects and union activists.
Many of those employees were later fired, detained or prosecuted by police and prevented from finding new jobs in the years that followed, as a 2014 Reuters investigation revealed.
On Wednesday, Volkswagen announced that it had signed an agreement with the Federal Public Ministry of São Paulo which includes a donation of 16.8 million reais (about 2.58 million euros) to an association formed by former employees and family members. the victims. The rest of the money will be donated to various human rights organizations.
According to Deutsche Welle, more than 60 people will benefit. The German broadcaster adds that it was a complaint raised by former employees who worked at the Volkswagen plant in São Bernardo do Campo during the military dictatorship in Brazil, adding that with the agreement, the German automaker avoids legal dispute.
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“It is important to deal responsibly with this negative chapter in Brazilian history and to promote transparency,” said Hiltrud Werner, Volkswagen board member.
The deal was first reported by German media Norddeutscher Rundfunk (NDR), Südwestrundfunk (SWR) and the Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper.
According to historian Christopher Kopper of Bielefeld University, hired by Volkswagen to analyze the case, this agreement will be historic. “This will be the first time that a German company accepts responsibility for human rights violations against its own employees for events that took place after the end of National Socialism. [nazismo]», He declared to the German media.