President Joao Goulart is guilty of the usual crimes: He takes an independent stand in foreign policy, resuming relations with socialist countries and opposing sanctions against Cuba; his administration passes a law limiting the amount of profits multinationals can transmit outside the country; a subsidiary of ITT is nationalized; he promotes economic and social reforms. And Attorney-General Robert Kennedy is uneasy about Goulart allowing "communists" to hold positions in government agencies. Yet the man is no radical. He is a millionaire land-owner and a Catholic who wears a medal of the Virgin around his neck. That, however, is not enough to save him. In 1964, he is overthrown in a military coup which has deep, covert American involvement. The official Washington line is...yes, it's unfortunate that democracy has been overthrown in Brazil...but, still, the country has been saved from communism.

For the next 15 years, all the features of military dictatorship that Latin America has come to know are instituted: Congress is shut down, political opposition is reduced to virtual extinction, habeas corpus for "political crimes" is suspended, criticism of the president is forbidden by law, labor unions are taken over by government interveners, mounting protests are met by police and military firing into crowds, peasants' homes are burned down, priests are brutalized...disappearances, death squads, a remarkable degree and depravity of torture...the government has a name for its program: the "moral rehabilitation" of Brazil.

Washington is very pleased. Brazil breaks relations with Cuba and becomes one of the United States' most reliable allies in Latin America. [1] [2]


The election of the liberal canidate Luiz Lula to the presidency demonstrates how foreign economic pressures are put to bear in the form of self-fulfilling prophecies: "For months international investment banks have been downgrading Brazil's government bonds, saying that a Lula presidency would likely lead to a default. This caused the collapse of the real, which has led to rising prices for all imports, including oil, and a spike in interest rates." [2]