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Context of '1964-1985: Ring-Wing Dictatorships Take Power in Brazil'

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During the 20-year period following the ousting of President Joao Goulart (see April 1, 1964), a succession of repressive right-wing governments rule Brazil. [Keen, 1992, pp. 359-368] The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs will report in 1974: “[General Castelo Branco] shuts down Congress, virtually extinguishes political opposition, suspends habeas corpus for ‘political crimes,’ forbids by law criticism of the dictator, takes over labor unions, institutes police and military firing into protesting crowds, burns down peasant homes, [and] brutalizes priests,….” [US Congress, 12/11/1974] Amnesty International also reports on the situation in Brazil: “Tortures range from simple but brutal blows from a truncheon to electric shocks. Often the torture is more refined: the end of a reed is placed in the anus of a naked man hanging suspended downwards on the pau de arara [parrot’s perch] and a piece of cotton soaked in petrol is lit at the other end of the reed. Pregnant women have been forced to watch their husbands being tortured. Other wives have been hung naked beside their husbands and given electric shocks on the sexual parts of their body, while subjected to the worst kind of obscenities. Children have been tortured before their parents and vice versa. At least one child, the three month old baby of Virgilio Gomes da Silva was reported to have died under police torture. The length of sessions depends upon the resistance capacity of the victims and have sometimes continued for days at a time.” [Amnesty International, 1974; Blum, 1995, pp. 171]

Entity Tags: Humberto Castelo Branco

Timeline Tags: US-Brazil (1961-2003)

A CIA-backed military-civilian coup overthrows the Brazilian government of Joao Goulart. [Counterspy, 4/1979; National Security Archives, 3/31/2004] The coup plotters received assurances from the US State Department in advance of Goulart’s ousting that the US would recognize the new government and provide assistance to the rebels if needed. As part of Operation Uncle Sam [Washington Post, 12/29/1976; Keen, 1992, pp. 359; Boston Globe, 1/5/2003] , the US Navy dispatched tankers to the coast of southern Brazil and mobilized for a possible airlift of 110 tons of ammunition and other equipment including CS gas for crowd control. [Central Intelligence Agency, 4/1/1964 pdf file; National Security Archives, 3/31/2004] But the Goulart government falls with little resistance and US assistance is not requested. Not wanting to be responsible for bloodshed among Brazilians, Goulart refuses to call on loyalist forces and flees to Uruguay. [Central Intelligence Agency, 4/1/1964 pdf file; Keen, 1992, pp. 359]

Entity Tags: João Goulart

Timeline Tags: US International Relations, US-Brazil (1961-2003)

Readers Digest reports on the recent coup in Brazil (see April 1, 1964): “Seldom has a major nation come closer to the brink of disaster and yet recovered than did Brazil in its recent triumph over Red subversion. The Communist drive for domination-marked by propaganda, infiltration, terror-was moving in high gear. Total surrender seemed imminent—and then the people said ‘No!’” [Blum, 1995]

Entity Tags: Washington Post, Readers Digest

Timeline Tags: US-Brazil (1961-2003), Domestic Propaganda

A group of reformist civilian and military officials in El Salvador organize a coup to overthrow the regime of General Carlos Humberto Romero. The group is made up of a mix of reformists with a genuine interest in political and economic reform and anticommunist hardliners concerned that the Romero regime was incapable of preventing a leftist uprising from taking over the country as had happened earlier in the year in Nicaragua. [Montgomery, 1995, pp. 73-75] Two army colonels, Adolfo Arnoldo Majano and Jaime Abdul Gutierrez, serve as the figureheads of the new regime. They promise land reform, greater political tolerance, democratic elections, an end to corruption, and a stop to the harsh repression by security forces. [Washington Post, 10/21/1979]

Entity Tags: Adolfo Arnoldo Majano, Jaime Abdul Gutierrez

Timeline Tags: US-El Salvador (1980-2002)

The United States executes an extraordinary rendition of Humberto Alvarez-Machain, a Mexican doctor accused of being involved in the torture and killing of a DEA official. He is captured in Mexico and taken to the US without the approval of the Mexican government. The rendition, approved by President George Bush, draws strong criticism from the Mexicans, who were not informed of Alvarez-Machain’s abduction in advance and believe the matter should have been dealt with under the extradition treaty between the two countries. [US House of Representatives, 7/24/1992; Washington Post, 10/21/2007] Alvarez-Machain will be tried in the US and the rendition issue will go all the way to the Supreme Court (see June 15, 1992).

Entity Tags: George Herbert Walker Bush, Humberto Alvarez-Machain

Timeline Tags: Torture of US Captives

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