Pilot was on way to testify in murder trial
BY KEVIN G. HALL
Herald World Staff
RIO DE JANEIRO -- Brazil's investigation into the death of former
Goulart, whose fall led to 21 years of military rule, has become more complicated
with the sudden and mysterious death of a key witness.
Rubem Rivero, who was Goulart's pilot, died of an apparent heart
attack Friday on
a ferry crossing to his home in Uruguay from Buenos Aires, Argentina.
He was on his way to Uruguay to testify in connection with Goulart's
death and to
present important papers, which are believed to have disappeared. Brazil is
investigating Goulart's death Dec. 6, 1976, in Argentina. And Uruguay is trying to
settle family disputes over his vast estate, part of which lies in Uruguay.
Brazilian congressman Luis Carlos Heinze, a vice president of
investigating Goulart's death in Brazil, says he will ask the Argentine Embassy in
Brasília, Brazil's capital, on Wednesday to request a detailed autopsy of Rivero's
body, which is being held in Argentina.
``It is strange. Someone starts into this and they die,'' said
Heinze, who wants
proof that Rivero was not drugged with a chemical that triggered a heart attack.
There is speculation that Goulart, known affectionately as ``Jango''
may have met a similar fate, as he appeared to be in good health just hours
before his death. His family has authorized an exhumation, if necessary, to probe
for causes of his death. A medical report said Goulart died of a heart attack, but
his family thinks he was murdered as part of Operation Condor.
Condor was a secret pact in the 1970s and 1980s among U.S.-backed
dictatorships in Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay to cooperate in
oppressing and even killing leftists and other opponents. Goulart had expressed
fears of repression shortly before his death on his ranch in Mercedes, Argentina.
He was the last civilian president before a military junta took
over Brazil in 1964
and ruled until 1985.
Reached by telephone while traveling, Goulart's son Joao Vicente
declined to comment until more details were known about Rivero's death.
Rivero had been expected to testify about possible political and
interests in Goulart's death. The son of the former president testified to the
commission that a former family friend, Ivo Magalhaes, may have betrayed
Another man, Enrique Foch Diaz, has testified that Magalhaes raided
home after the president's death in search of shares of a company that owned
$20 million worth of property in Paraguay, the Brazilian daily newspaper Jornal do
Brasil reported Tuesday.
While Goulart's stature as a former civilian president was reason
enough to make
him a threat to military regimes, there are economic reasons that someone may
have wanted him dead. His large ranch sprawled on both sides of the
Argentina-Uruguay border and he had land holdings in nearby Paraguay. His
family remains divided in court battles over his businesses and land.
Congressman Heinze said what he had heard so far made him inclined
Goulart was murdered. But he cautioned that more testimony is still expected.
``We are reconstructing the last three days of his life, talking
to persons who were
with him [Goulart],'' said Heinze.