Brasilien: Helena Greco

Get tired of fighting for human rights? Never!

— Helena Greco

Helena Greco (1916) was one of the founders and also the director of the Women's Movement for Amnesty (MFPA) in Minas Gerais State. This movement helped to bury the Brazilian military dictatorship that began in 1964. Later on, she was elected town councilor of Belo Horizonte City and joined the Group Torture Never More, whose main goal is to denounce and eradicate all forms of torture practiced by the police.

She was 60 years old when, for the first time, she faced the truculence of the police and was sprayed with lachrymatory gases. It happened at a protest against the arrest of students that were contrary to the military dictatorship. From then on, she did not stop. Right after that, she founded and directed the Women's Amnesty Movement, in Minas Gerais State. It was the end of the 1970s, and Helena was fighting for the return of the exiled and for democratic freedom. She suffered threats, risked herself. “They threw a bomb at my house. Luckily, the bomb hit the fence and fell on the sidewalk. It made a big hole.” With a degree in pharmacy and mother of three children, she quickly understood that political participation was the key to defeat dictatorship and to build a real democracy. She stood side by side with those who had no land, no home and no rights. She was opposed to infantile labor and joined feminism. She helped to implant the city's first shelter home for women living in violent situations. In 1982, at age 67, she was elected town councilor representing the Partido dos Trabalhadores (Labor Party), of which she was one of the founders. She did such a great job that she was re-elected. She participated actively in the Group Torture Never More and denounced doctors that were conniving with tortures inflicted by the organs of repression. She also created the First Permanent Human Rights Committee to exist in a municipal chamber. Today, she is 89 years old and says that “the most important thing is to be ready to do what needs to be done.” She is right: much needs to be conquered in order for Brazilians to truly–and not only theoretically–be citizens.

Movimento Feminino Pela Anistía (Women's Movement for Amnesty) Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais (Group Torture Never More)