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US-Brazil (1961-2003)

Project: History of US Interventions
Open-Content project managed by Derek, mtuck

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Janio da Silva Quadros is elected president of Brazil by a record margin. He mysteriously resigns, reportedly under military pressure. Joao Goulart, the vice-president, succeeds Quadros as president and aims to continue Quadros’ independent foreign policy. He expands the country’s trade with socialist countries and refuses to participate in the embargo against Cuba. (Keen 1992, pp. 357; Blum 1995; Fausto 1999, pp. 263-264) Joao Goulart is no communist. He is described as a “millionaire landowner and a Catholic who wears a medal of the Virgin around his neck.” He receives “a ticker-tape parade in New York City in April, and toasts the US ambassador, ‘To the Yankee Victory!’ after the Cuban Missile Crisis in October.” (Blum 1995)

The CIA conducts an intensive propaganda campaign against Joao Goulart which dates from at least the 1962 election operation (see January 1, 1963) and which includes the financing of mass urban demonstrations. (Blum 1995)

Brazilian President Joao Goulart holds a national plebiscite on whether Brazil should have a presidential or parliamentary government (a recent constitutional amendment required the president to share power with a council of ministers responsible to the legislature). Voters decide overwhelmingly to restore to Goulart full presidential powers under the 1946 constitution, despite the CIA spending close to $20 million in an effort to thwart his election. (Gribbin 4/1979; Keen 1992, pp. 357)

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)

Brazilian President Joao Goulart nationalizes oil, expropriates unused land, and passes a law limiting the amount of profits multinationals can send out of the country. (Gribbin 4/1979; Keen 1992, pp. 358)

A CIA-backed military-civilian coup overthrows the Brazilian government of Joao Goulart. (Gribbin 4/1979; Kornbluh 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 (Diuguid 12/29/1976; Keen 1992, pp. 359; Rapoza 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; Kornbluh 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)

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)

US President George W. Bush’s brother Florida Governor Jeb Bush makes a large contribution to the Cancun World Trade talks, defending the US’s tariff on orange juice which protects Florida’s citrus industry. In 1985, the US had imported half a billion gallons of orange juice from Brazil, and 20 million gallons from the rest of the world. These figures now stand at 150 million gallons and 100 million gallons respectively as a result of the tariffs. Another Bush family member, brother Marvin Bush, may be able to explain Jeb’s interest in these subsidies—he holds 30,000 shares in a business which is directly dependent on continued Brazilian tariffs to keep its business. (Saunders 10/15/2003)


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