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Letter from the editor | 196

(Always) temporary truths, (Still) hidden truths

Over the last decade, a revolution has been underway in the classification of tufted capuchins and caiarara capuchins, charming primates that are spread across Central and South America, including the Amazon, the cerrado savannah, caatinga drylands and the Atlantic Forest all the way to Argentina. In the beautiful cover article of this issue, Maria Guimarães, editor of Pesquisa FAPESP on-line, reports that until recently specialists classified both species in the same Cebus genus, using taxonomy still based on the work of the naturalists. Furthermore, they also classified all tufted capuchins in the Cebus apella species. However, new technical and scientific approaches, especially molecular technology, have gradually permitted the reclassification of these primates, which vary widely in shape, color, size, eating habits and behavior. Since last February they are, for instance, ordered formally in two genera proposed by a Brazilian researcher: Sapajus, which groups the more robust species and Cebus, which groups the thinner ones, although specialists are still debating this division. Let me remind you that these interesting cousins of ours, who have a complex social system, are capable of using tools – not a trivial skill. It is worthwhile checking all the other data in this story on page 18.

The next highlight in this issue is an article from our Humanities section, by Fabrício Marques, our editor for science and technology policy under the creative title “The birth of memory.” It looks at a series of studies that seek to understand why Brazil was so late in creating legal mechanisms to address human rights violations, including the deaths and disappearances of left-wing militants from 1964 to 1985. It is only now, in May 2012, 27 years after the end of the military government, that the Brazilian State has established a commission, the Truth Commission, to address these issues. This is much later than its South American neighbors, for instance, who also endured military rule around that time. I must say that, as a journalist, I have always had difficulty dealing with this subject, which affects me personally in a deep and permanent way. So I was comforted by the proposal for the outline of this article by Luiz Henrique Lopes dos Santos, president of the magazine’s scientific committee, philosophy professor and adjunct coordinator for Humanities in FAPESP’s scientific department, and its supervision by Glenda Mezarobba, political scientist and Director of Humanities for the foundation, who addressed the issue in her doctoral research. Later I was pleased to see the deep, serious and calm way Fabrício dealt with an issue that is so delicate and important to understand this country. It is worth noting that he is a veteran in this field, and I recall the rigor and sensibility with which he reported on the advance of government policy and published sad personal stories in the Jornal do Brasil, when the Fernando Henrique government instituted the amnesty commission and the commission for the dead and missing around 1995.

Enjoy your reading!

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