The World According to DEOPS

I’ve spent the bulk of the past month in the archives of São Paulo’s political police, the Departamento Estadual de Ordem Política e Social (DEOPS, or the State Department of Political and Social Order), in operation from 1924 to 1983. The DEOPS files, transferred to the Arquivo Público do Estado de São Paulo in 1991, look quite like they did when DEOPS ceased to exist. The interrogation reports, confessions, memoranda, and other records are grouped by person/organization of interest and cross-indexed meticulously, though in ways that better suit the repression of “subversion” than, say, the documentation of torture by actors linked to the state.

The DEOPS record room [Photo from APESP]
In a future post, I’ll talk more about a particularly exciting subset of the documents I’ve come across — specifically, those produced internally by left-wing insurgent groups and apprehended in military-police raids. For now, however, I’ll just mention one special find from today: a 37-page classified “Dictionary of Terms, Expressions, Names, and Abbreviations Used by Terrorist Subversives,” prepared by DEOPS’ Specialized Delegation of Social Order in December 1973. (By this point in time, nine years into Brazil’s dictatorships and four years past its sharp repressive turn, most revolutionary groups had been thoroughly crushed.) Many of these dictionary entries stand out, often in ways that don’t require much elaboration. I’ll leave a few of them below, so that we can all jump briefly through the looking glass and into the world according to DEOPS.

“DICTATORSHIP – Communist slogan, used to attack a government that does not tolerate subversion” (p. 10)

“HUMAN RIGHTS – Slogan adopted in a campaign undertaken by elements of the subversive left, exclusively in favor of imprisoned comrades, with the aim of attracting, through compassion, the sympathy of the public” (p. 10)

“POLITICAL OPENING – Slogan of the left, with the aim of facilitating the subversive movement” (p. 2)

“TORTURERS – Expression utilized by subversives and by communists in general, to designate those who directly and indirectly effect or contribute to the imprisonment of terrorist subversives” (p. 33)

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