Expanding Alliances in the 21st Century: The U.S. and Brazil Unite to Address Matters of National Security

The recent signing of a new defense agreement between the Western hemisphere’s two dominant powers, Brazil and the United States, has brought about an important change to Latin America’s relations with the U.S. On April 12, 2010, Brazil took another step to enhance its geopolitical influence by signing the U.S.-Brazil Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA). The treaty will allow U.S. military cooperation on a Brazilian base with the aim of defending the hemisphere from illicit drug trafficking and to protect both countries’ national interests. As Brazil continues to be a linchpin of economic stability in Latin America and is increasingly viewed as being on its way to becoming a global superpower, the Brazilian government is realizing that its power comes with a price. The cost of such a position carries a price tag in terms of its security costs. Brazil has achieved a sufficiently high profile that it must significantly increase its defense so as to protect its population.

An Uneasy Past

Military relations between the two nations date back to World War II when Brazil participated in the Allied effort by providing troops to fight in the 1942 Italian Campaign. The first defense treaty between the two nations was created in 1952, with the signing of the Brazilian Military Assistance Agreement. The accord enabled the provisional exchange of major weapons and training by the United States to its Brazilian counterpart, as the countries proceeded to form a tenuous alliance that governed their bilateral ties during the Cold War1. However, this alliance was short-lived and suffered multiple blowouts. After Brazil’s 1964 military coup, the U.S. continued to provide military aid in the form of training and supplies in order to support the pro-U.S. governments that were in power. Nonetheless, the U.S. began to limit its assistance during this time.

As defense ties to the U.S. gradually diminished, Brazil began to pursue a nuclear program with the aid of West Germany beginning in 1975. The Carter Administration stipulated that Brazil must improve its poor human rights record and cease its nuclear development efforts in order to continue to receive military assistance from Washington. When Brazil refused to comply with these demands, the U.S. formally terminated its military agreement with Brasilia in 1977.

As the twentieth century came to an end, Brazil maintained its position as a regional power and also began to ascend as an increasingly important actor in world affairs. In the time leading up to the signing of the DCA, the two nations discovered overlapping national security interests, which resulted in the signing of the new and promising DCA on April 12, 2010. In fact, the State Department guaranteed that the DCA would enable “U.S.-Brazil defense cooperation to deepen and expand into new areas of mutual interest.”2

Lula’s Wariness of Uncle Sam

After the October 2009 U.S.-Colombia Defense Agreement, many Latin American nations were more than a little skeptical of the expanded U.S. presence. The U.S.-Colombia agreement established seven U.S. bases across Colombia, each with its own personnel and equipment. Nonetheless, Ecuador and Venezuela claimed that the bases arrangement was nothing less than a preparation for an U.S. invasion of South America, while Brazilian President Lula da Sliva expressed a concern that the Colombian bases would only increase regional tensions. Shortly after the agreement was signed, Lula invited President Obama to the South American Summit to seek reassurance that the base was solely for the war against “drugs and terrorists within Colombia only.” Lula’s concern about the U.S. military presence in Colombia seems to be hypocritical due to the fact that six months later Brazil signed a military agreement of its own with Washington.

However, there is little to worry about. The U.S. sent letters to the concerned nations explaining the role and purpose of the bases, according to Kevin Whitaker, Acting Deputy Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs. Furthermore, the Colombia agreement states that “the cooperation is based upon full respect for the sovereignty of each party,” and stating that Colombia will contractually own the military base and work cooperatively and collegially together with the U.S. The DCA with Brazil follows a similar format. Secretary Whitaker stated at a conference that, “the treaty with Brazil is narrow in its nature in comparison to the agreement with Colombia,” and thus provides a more detailed description as to the role of the U.S. military presence. These explanations are aimed to quell concerns about an intruding military force or an “imperialist” base. Under the Obama administration, the U.S.’ foreign policy has been orientated towards establishing cooperation-based initiatives in which the U.S. provides both military and social aid to other nations in order to address specific issues of national security which threaten the overall prospects for global stability.

The New Global Stage and its Perils

As Brazil steps into the international arena, it will continue to face some of the many issues that plague Latin America, including the major threats of the drug trade and terrorism. To add to its international importance, Brazil will be the host of the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic games, two events which place Brazil prominently in the world spotlight.

In order to address issues of defense, one must begin by understanding the geographical enormity of Brazil. The Brazilian territory expands across most of the Amazon bordering every South American nation except for Ecuador and Chile. On the coast lies the Atlantic Ocean, the maritime door to Europe and the United States. These borders have already witnessed a terrorist presence and have become a major artery for the illegal drug trade.
In past years, Brazil has experienced terrorist threats, as illustrated by the arrest of individuals linked to terrorist cells in 2002. These threats have led the country’s security forces to look for more security safeguards in the hemisphere.

Terrorism recently has undergone a redefinition by the U.S. State Department. A terrorist is now any insurgent who “employs subversion, sabotage, [or] open warfare.”3 Additionally, these violent acts are targeted to inflict “massive damage to the United States, [their] allies, [their] interests and the broader international system.”4 This shift in definition has had important implications for Brazil. First, the country’s rise in global stature and as a partner-in-arms of the United States places it at risk of falling victim to al-Qaeda’s infamous “globalized insurgency.”5 The fact that Brazil is preparing for its advent as a world superpower and in the near future will host several major international events makes it a prime target for terrorist acts. Judging from other historical events, such as the 1972 Munich Olympics bombings, Brazil must protect itself from such threats.

Furthermore, the definition of terrorism now has swollen into encompassing groups, such as the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), that previously were considered local revolutionary guerrilla forces. However, there is evidence of FARC presence, not only in the Andean region, but also in the Southern Cone. Recently, Paraguayan authorities, in combination with Colombian intelligence, captured a FARC leader who undoubtedly was in Paraguay to train members of the rebel Paraguayan People’s Army (EPP). Thus, Brazil may be facing terrorist threats from well-established regional terrorist groups as well as homegrown groups.

With regards to narcotrafficking, the largely un-policed border between Brazil and Paraguay has allowed the flow of 40 tons of cocaine and 15% of the world’s supply of marijuana to access the rest of the world, thus Brazil-Paraguay border has become yet another victim of the drug trading lanes. Recently, the Paraguayan drug enforcement squad declared that the amount of cocaine confiscated so far in 2010 already tops the total amount confiscated in all of 2009 which further emphasize how the drug trade will continue to prosper along the Brazil-Paraguay border; problem that in turn will continue to demand increased security. The illicit trade on Brazil’s border will ultimately threaten its stability, especially at a time when global attention is focused on the country. These threats will call for a tighter grip on the nation’s defense establishment.

The DCA Helping Brasilia

Many Brazilian foreign policy strategists expect the DCA to fulfill the country’s main goal of preparing for the global threats of the 21st Century. First off, the U.S. military base would be “under Brazilian command” and “resemble the US facility in Key West, Florida where representatives of several Latin American countries and several US military agencies monitor the skies and waters of that region.”6 Therefore, Brazil will retain its sovereignty while still hosting a joint task force where the national interests of the U.S. and Brazil would be mutually fostered.

Furthermore, the DCA includes:
• Cooperation in the fields of research and development, logistics support, technology security, and the acquisition of defense products and services;
• Information exchanges on topics such as operational experiences, defense technology, and international peacekeeping operations;
• Combined military training and education, and joint military exercises;
• Exchanges of instructors and students from defense institutions;
• Commercial initiatives related to defense matters.7

These objectives invariably serve to promote Brazil’s self-defined foreign policy objectives. Brazil’s 1988 Constitution serves as the nation’s guiding source for protecting its foreign policy and outlines its goals in Article IV. The Constitution emphasizes “national independence… defense of peace… [and] repudiation of terrorism.”8 According to the nation’s leading newspaper, O Estado de São Paulo, the goal of the DCA base is to strengthen security against drug trafficking in the region by triangulating efforts with bases in Key West, Florida; Lisbon, Portugal and Rio de Janeiro. Another provision, one which outlines the U.S.’ agreement to send weapons to Brazil, will drastically improve the Brazilian military’s ability to combat future threats.

The agreement also fulfills Brazil’s long-term goals of establishing a viable defense system against terrorism and other regional threats. The sharing of U.S. intelligence, modern equipment, and training will appreciably improve Brazil’s military capabilities as well as the U.S.’ ability to uphold its national security goals.

The DCA Helping D.C.

The United States has also undertaken new foreign policy initiatives in order to satisfy global requirements. The new approach aims to create a successful military alliance in the Western hemisphere similar to NATO with Europe. According to strategic analyst and Princeton professor, John G. Ikenberry, “NATO and the US-Japan alliance are at the core of [an] alliance system [which] will be expanded and strengthened.”9 The U.S. uses the structure of traditional Cold War alliances and expands upon these alliances by having them expand to other regional powers such as Brazil. Therefore, the DCA with Brazil will entail a “cooperation of security or security cobinding.”10 The unfettered rise of Brazil is inevitable and, via the DCA, it will be incorporated into an alliance system “rather than operating as a dissatisfied revisionist state on the outside,” like Venezuela.11

Another driving force behind the DCA is Washington’s uncanny feeling with regard to Venezuela’s transformed foreign policy and increased defense spending. Chávez recently reallocated approximately $4 billion in defense spending for Russian AK-47 rifles, Mi-24 attack helicopters, S300 surface-to-air missiles, and SU-27 fighter jets. This colossal investment in modern warfare has many nations on the continent worried about their intended end use. Although it does not create an arms race within Latin America per se, it does, according to some U.S. strategists, increase tensions among regional governments. Chávez’s outcries against the U.S., such as claiming that the U.S. has spy planes in the region, are now backed with a dangerous arsenal.

However, conventional military forces are not the only worry in the region. The Chávez government has an alleged relationship with Colombian FARC rebels, and the rebels have purportedly used the Venezuelan jungles as a safe haven. These rebel forces have also been reported to have AT-4 light anti-tank rockets, rifles and other arms, some of which formerly belonged to the Venezuelan military.

Venezuela is vying for political potency in the region as it aims to influence other governments to replicate policies of its own leftist-style government. Chávez’s objective has achieved relative success in Ecuador and Bolivia. The role of the regional military in the area is a major factor in determining whether Brazil or Venezuela will have stronger influence in the region. This factor contributes to Chávez’s decision to upgrade its military and why, in recent years, Brazil’s defense spending has also increased by 58%. Venezuela’s questionable political stance and alliances, enforced by a modern and dangerous military arsenal, could allow it to become a radical power in the region, threatening not only regional stability, but also competing against Brazil’s own ascension to power.

The U.S. base in Brazil will provide the U.S. with a foundation from which it can work hand in hand with Brasilia in thwarting the efforts to develop new routes for drug shipping northward. Additionally, the U.S. base in Brazil would serve as a Forward Operation Location (FOL), such as the ones already established in Curaçao and Aruba, which are military facilities targeted at curtailing drug activity in the region. These bases have proven to be quite successful in the war against drugs by acting as centers of intelligence operations. Furthermore, since Brazil has long been a powerful nation in Latin America, Brazil enthusiasts close to the White House would advocate that the U.S. should ally with Brazil in the “interest of regional security.”12 Therefore, the base in Brazil would not only serve to aid in combating drug trafficking, but also would help establish a more stable balance of power in what has been at times a politically unstable region.

Brazil’s Defense Future

The Defense Cooperation Agreement is just the first step in changing the topography of U.S.–Brazilian relations. The rising power of Brazil has driven it to modify its national priorities. In doing so, it must prepare to fend off the vertigo of its rapid rise and engage in discreet policy shifts that will protect its dignity and at the same time uphold its basic interests, such as the wars on drugs and terrorism. With its cooperation with Brazil, the U.S. has created a new regional ally that will pursue similar interests. Moreover, this evolving alliance proves that Latin America may have reached the point that it no longer needs to feel that its fundamental sovereignty is being threatened as it was in the previous century. Those who maintain that the U.S. will continue with its hegemonic activity in Latin America, such as Ecuador’s President Correa and Venezuela’s Chávez, may be mistaken. These leaders are still being propelled by historical bona fide resentments to come to these conclusions, but a new age may now be dawning.

For too many years, Latin America and the United States have shared an unsteady and often bitter relationship. Brazil has increasingly become a major player in dealing with global affairs in a pacific and non-judgmental manner. One example of this is Brazil’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear talks in search of a way out from the present stalemate. In a subtle way, Brazil has declared that Latin America is no longer Washington’s backyard. As Latin America strives for security along with democracy, the U.S. and Brazil are destined to continue to play a key role in how both of these elements unfold as dynamic factors in the region’s future. Exactly what role the DCA will play is by no means certain. However, if limited to only anti-drug matters and not as a facility to carry out the type of misguided and ill conceived adventures which have sullied the U.S.’ good name in the past, the DCA has the potential to aid in security improvement and social development, benefiting both regional superpowers.

References for this article are available here.

20 thoughts on “Expanding Alliances in the 21st Century: The U.S. and Brazil Unite to Address Matters of National Security

  • August 20, 2010 at 7:57 pm
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    US-Brazilian military relations begain in 1921 when the US sent naval commander Vogelgesang (the name is German but the man was an American) to Brazil to assist in the running of the Brazilian Naval School (previously under English control).. The mission was very successful and remained there until 1931 when Depression economics forced its end. (To be continued)

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  • August 20, 2010 at 7:58 pm
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    Among the interesting results: The mission included a US side. Brazilian ships began coming to the Brooklyn naval yard for repairs. The Brazilian essyist, Gilberto Freyre was a student living in Brooklyn at the time. One day he heard some Brazilians talking as they walked over the Brooklyn Bridge to the Naval Yard. Observing them he was taken by how these sailors were all of different shades of skin and were buddies. He realized that such a thing could not be in the US at the time (or any time in the near or far future). That thought led to his writing "Mansions and Slaves."

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  • August 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm
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    The succdess of the Mission in Blrazil was such that the Braziling military, which had previously been divided in favoring either English or French military systems, turned to American methods and incorporated them piecemeal in all its military branches. Thus, when contact was made in Italy during the war it eased cooperation.

    Boy, its hard to write and proof in light grey!

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  • August 20, 2010 at 8:02 pm
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    Now I have to correct myself. Freyre wrote "Masters and Slaves first and the above story was the basis for its being written.

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  • August 20, 2010 at 8:09 pm
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    Little by little my membory is returning. When the Brazilian envoy to the Versailles treaty was elected to be Brazil''s next president he returned to Brazil on a US ship where he met the above mentioned Vogelgesang. They became good friends and that is why, when the Americans won the right to send a Naval Mission, Brazil requested they send Vogelgesang to lead it!

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    • August 22, 2010 at 4:18 pm
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      Dear Bob

      You are a Real Breath of Fresh Air. After reading many blogs on many issues (yahoo is the absolute worst I've seen so far) it is so refreshing to have an adult write about the history he knows.

      I think I would say that for all the comments. Adults discussing an important issue, not children hurling insults and profanity.

      Sincerely

      Patrick Young

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  • August 21, 2010 at 3:28 pm
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    Funny there's no mention here of the US role in the overthrow of Goulart, but that would be consistent with the author's bias, i.e. that it is a good thing for Brazil to cozy up to the US and receive continued military assistance. It's a pretty well known fact that the US trained Brazilian torturers during the post '64 governments, so you might think the Brazilians would be a little nervous about signing agreements for "mutual security" with the US, which is always angling for pals on a continent where most of the leaders are attempting to defend their national security against, rather than with, the US which has been the only real threat to peace in the region for the entire 20th century.
    Can there be any doubt that the safest path for ALL the Latin American governments that want to 'protect themselves from terrorism' is not to get closer to the US but to DISTANCE themselves from the US? Unlike COHA's author, most of the Latin American leaders seem to understand that very clearly.

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  • August 22, 2010 at 9:09 am
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    I agree with Ana J in regards to the role of the US to overthrow Goulart in 1964. Throughout much of the 1960's through 1970's the US presence in Latin America was specifically to thwart the efforts of any 'New Left' governments from coming to power. This maintaining of US friendly governments resulted in policies such as the infamous Operacion Condor in the Southern Cone.

    However, these were events of the past and if resentments are continued to be held it will continue to trap Latin America in the pendulum of democracy. It makes NO SENSE to distance a nation from the world and regional power for economic and security reasons. The Latin American nations do not have the economic strength to completely isolate the US and resort to other markets without encountering the US at some-point down the road. These isolationist claims absolutely do not work. Instead, what should be done is to keep the US as a friend but also expand to other markets such as the China. Many Latin American nations have done this case and point, Ecuador's Rafael Correa. He has kept the US as a friend while still seeking new markets in Asia.

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  • August 22, 2010 at 3:16 pm
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    The Brazil-U.S. agreement doesn't predict U.S. presence in Brazilian territory. I don't understand why Brazil's criticism of U.S. presence in Colombia – a criticism that was echoed by ALL South American governments – would be hypocritical.

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  • August 22, 2010 at 3:21 pm
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    "When Brazil refused to comply with these demands, the U.S. formally terminated its military agreement with Brasilia in 1977"

    That is factually innacurate. BRAZIL terminated the military pact, NOT the other way around. The more nationalistic elements in the Brazilian military government even wanted Brazil to terminate all ties with the US, even diplomatic ones.

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    • August 23, 2010 at 2:03 am
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      "In April 1977, Brazil abrogated unilaterally the 1952 United States-Brazilian Military Assistance Agreement in reaction to pressure on Brazil by President Jimmy Carter's administration to improve its human rights record and to rescind its 1975 nuclear accord with West Germany. The abrogation curtailed the regular flow of United States arms to Brazil and reduced channels of interaction between United States and Brazilian officers, especially in the area of training. The termination of the agreement manifested a more aggressive and nationalistic foreign policy under President Ernesto Geisel. Moreover, this was reflected in Brazil's industrial prowess, its capabilities as an arms producer, and its diversified external ties."

      The above quote was extracted in one of Piqueta's references. Funny, the reference says one thing – that it was Brazil who canceled the military pact – but he reports another. This is a small issue and not a major theme of the article, I know that – but it exposes the author's pro-U.S. bias and his poor (or instead dishonest) scholarship.

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  • August 22, 2010 at 4:12 pm
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    The United States has supported undemocratic brutal butchering governments in El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Cuba, Brazil, Colombia, Paraguay, actually you could just say all thru the (southern part of) the Western Hemisphere.

    Governments as utterly repugnant and savage as El Salvador and Guatemala had no problems (except crocodile tears and toothless "warnings") about their death squad activity. The Duvalier Dynasty, the Somozas, the list of murderous dictatorships the U.S. supported is as long as your arm. This is fact.

    Just as an example in more recent times, the Mexican government has death squads operating all over southern Mexico, murdering the indigenous people with impunity with U.S. supplied weaponry. I visited the town known as Actael just a few months after Mexican death squads murdered 54 people DURING a church service. KIilled an infant, 14 children, 9 men, and the rest women. I met the people, saw the graves. The U.S. response? Tsk Tsk.

    We are the big boys on the block, and historically have never given a whit about human rights or democracy in Latin America. Interesting how quickly the US sponsored coup is mentioned in the article, then quickly dismissed, when any student of history knows that Brazil killed and imprisoned thousands after the coup.

    It is repulsive to me to call the succeeding governments "Pro-U.S." What does that mean?

    If the American public was fully aware of the mini genocide in Chile, the 250,000 slain in Guatemala, the distinctively brutal rule of "President for Life" Duvalier in Haiti, (I'd write more but the list would simply go on and on) they wouldn't call these thugs "Pro U.S." because the REAL citizens of United States of America stand for something. We don't like dictators or torturers.

    This has been US policy ever since we ascended to the most powerful nation in the Western Hemisphere, taking over Spain's possessions with the help of local independence fighters, then immediately afterward wiping them out and simply assuming Spain's role as imperial power in each respective nation.

    If you are not blinded by (false) patriotism, Google Search: Smedley Butler, El Salvador & human rights, Guatemala 1954 military coup, Honduras and Batallion 316, Contras and cocaine, once again I'll stop because the list is endless.

    I don't know what kind of game Brazil is playing with the new "security" agreement, but I am positive it will have no benefit for the people of Brazil beyond a few jobs maybe doing laundry on the US bases.

    The US elite thru their lackey politicians does nothing in smaller and weaker countries (i.e. all of Latin America and the Caribbean) except follow their OWN interests, and have no intention in the least of helping the people in these terribly impoverished countries. This is historical fact, and a few token USAID projects don't change the overwhelming evidence to the contrary nor balance the hopelessly lopsided scales.

    And I MUST ad, when I say "U.S." I really do NOT mean the United States of America and the many freedom loving people who loathe dictatorships and death squads. I mean the ruling elite that install our president, congress, and supreme court.

    The official U.S. policy of supporting human rights and democracy for other nations is so full of holes you could drive an aircraft carrier thru it. To say that U.S. military arrangements with Latin America have brought the people of those nations anything but suffering, repression and dictatorship would be untrue. Sadly when I discuss these issues with most friends, they usually just say something like "whoa, that's so depressing" and just throw up their hands like we do every few years when presented with mediocre candidates/pawns of the rich every election cycle.

    I've spent the last 25 years in Central America and the Caribbean, mostly in the countries at war like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas (Mexico) and Haiti. Any true believers in free and fair elections, human rights, and self determination would want our leaders jailed for war crimes for past and present behavior in those nations.

    It gives me no pleasure, actually it gives me great sadness to know about US foreign policy in this region in depth. I honestly wish I'd never looked under the rock. I just got curious during the 80's after the Salvadoran govt. raped & murdered the 4 U.S. nuns, killed the Archbishop, and the U.S. response was to say "Now stop that!" and then after a month or so, resume arms shipments.

    The people that run our nation, our politicians and "leaders" don't even believe in democracy for our own nation, why would one think they'd care about it in Latin America?

    Sincerely disappointed

    Patrick Young
    Ex Army Vet and retired Govt/History teacher

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  • August 22, 2010 at 5:50 pm
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    This is a pro-U.S. propaganda paper that Coha would do well in withdrawing.

    As some posters said above, it revises history. It says that the U.S. reduced cooperation with Brazil during the military government, but that is untrue. The U.S. reduced cooperation with the two Brazilian civil presidents that preceded the military coup. It reduced cooperation with Jânio Quadros due to his support for Cuba during the U.S. 1961 invasion of Cuban territory; and it did the same with João Goulart due to his leftist leanings. As Ana J. pointed out above, so great was U.S. hostility to Goulart, that it did everything to destabilize his administration – and that includes supporting the coup plotters who overthrew his government. Lincoln Gordon, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, worked as the intermediary between the plotters, led by Castelo Branco, and the Johnson administration.

    Contacts between the Brazilian dictatorship and the U.S. turned cool only by 1968. This was due to the following reasons:

    1 – trade: the U.S. applied high tariffs to Brazilian manufactured goods. This – according to then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – made Brazil turn to new partnerships. And that included partnerships with Communist countries such as China, Angola, and Mozambique. Also, the Brazilian dictatorship did not follow the free market receipt advised by the U.S.

    2 – ideology: after 1968 political power passed to the hands of an ultranationalistic team that was less cooperative than the first dictator, the staunchly pro-U.S. Castelo Branco.

    3 – the international reaction to the radicalization of the Brazilian dictatorship. Even the Catholic Church, which had previously worked to oppose Goulart, cut ties with the Brazilian government in 1968. As an American specialist on Brazilian history, James N. Green, said on the matter, the U.S. governement was under pressure from the American people not to collaborate too closely with Brazil.

    Still, it was Brazil who did the most to loose its ties with the U.S. As I said above, it was Brazil – not the U.S. – who renounced the military pact in 1977.

    Also missing in Pitarque’s attempts in contextualizing the current agreement, is a discussion of how the U.S. thwarts attempts by Brazil to modernize its military force. The Brazilian aerospacial program is boycotted by the U.S. due to fears that spacial technology can be applied to the construction of a ballistic missile platform. In 2001 the U.S. tried to make an agreement with Brazil that would permit it exclusive access to the Alcântara launching base (Northeast Brazil). However, the U.S. put a number of limitations on the agreement. One of the most polemical was this one: the USS 600,000.000 a year that the U.S. would have to pay Brazil for using the base could not be applied by the host country to advance its own spacial program. Fortunately the agreement wound up not passing in either Congress or popular referendum: 95% of the 10 million Brazilians who voted rejected the agreement. Pitarque’s sentimental presentation of the current agreement as a genuine cooperation, an effort by the U.S. to teach Brazil how to protect its economic might or whatever, lacks historical support, even a recent one.

    As for the 2010 agreement, everything Pitarque says about it is incorrect. There is one source for his assertions, including for his quotes (“under Brazilian command”, “resemble the US facility in Key West…”): Cipcol. But Cipcol also extracted its allegations from another source: an April 6th paper in the Estado de São Paulo daily.

    The Estado de São Paulo takes an adversarial stance toward the current Brazilian government. Sometimes it also dispenses away with factual accuracy in order to attack it. That was what happened with its coverage of the Brazil-U.S. agreement. Estado de São Paulo alleged that the agreement would predict building a base in Rio de Janeiro to fight drug trafficking. The base would include U.S. military presence.

    Both allegations are false. As I said previously, the agreement doesn’t predict any U.S. presence and has nothing to do with drug trafficking (or terrorism, an issue Brazil has never had to struggle with).

    The link to the agreement’s text is at the bottom of this post. It is so run with vague and abstract language, that one can’t quite define what is the agreement’s scope, or if it has one. It predicts exchange of information, mutual visits by civil and military delegations, etc. But unlike the U.S.-Colombia agreement this one doesn’t say anything about permitting U.S. presence in Brazil.

    Thomas Shannon, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, said of the agreement in a 12th April interview with O Globo: “The purpose of the agreement is to promote bilateral cooperation and not to open military bases (…) It builds a structure to improve dialogue between the two countries in the Defence area.”¹

    That the agreement would permit U.S. presence in Brazil, was also denied by Minister of Strategy Samuel Guimarães Pinheira. Unfortunately I’m not able to find e-links to an interview with him on this matter. But I believe what was said above is enough to rebute Pitarque’s assertions. It seems that he was so enthused by gossip about U.S. presence in Brazil, that he forgot to check the facts. I dont mean to sound intrasigent, but I would like to know from the author or Coha where it was said by official authorities that the Brazil-U.S. agreement would be just another Plan Colombia in the region.

    1: http://oglobo.globo.com/economia/mat/2010/04/12/brasil-estados-unidos-assinam-acordo-de-cooperacao-militar-916322432.asp

    Text of the agreement: http://www.itamaraty.gov.br/sala-de-imprensa/notas-a-imprensa/2010/04/12/acordo-entre-brasil-e-estados-unidos-sobre

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  • August 22, 2010 at 5:52 pm
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    This is a pro-U.S. propaganda paper that Coha would do well in withdrawing.

    As some said above, it revises history. It says that the U.S. reduced cooperation with Brazil during the military government, but that is untrue. The U.S. reduced cooperation with the two Brazilian civil presidents that preceded the military coup. It reduced cooperation with Jânio Quadros due to his support for Cuba during the U.S. 1961 invasion of Cuban territory; and it did the same with João Goulart due to his leftist leanings. As Ana J. pointed out above, so great was U.S. hostility to Goulart, that it did everything to destabilize his administration – and that includes supporting the coup plotters who overthrew his government. Lincoln Gordon, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, worked as the intermediary between the plotters, led by Castelo Branco, and the Johnson administration.

    Contacts between the Brazilian dictatorship and the U.S. turned cool only by 1968. This was due to the following reasons:

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    • August 22, 2010 at 7:40 pm
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      1 – trade: the U.S. applied high tariffs to Brazilian manufactured goods. This – according to then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – made Brazil turn to new partnerships. And that included partnerships Communist countries such as China, Angola, and Mozambique.

      2 – ideology: after 1968 political power passed to the hands of an ultranationalistic team that was less cooperative than the first dictator, the staunchly pro-U.S. Castelo Branco.

      3 – the international reaction to the radicalization of the Brazilian dictatorship. Even the Catholic Church, which had previously worked to oppose Goulart, cut ties with the Brazilian government in 1968. As an American specialist on Brazilian history, James N. Green, said on the matter, the U.S. governement was under pressure from its people not to collaborate too closely with Brazil.

      Still, it was Brazil who did the most to loose its ties with the U.S. As I said above, it was Brazil – not the U.S. – who renounced the military pact in 1977.

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  • August 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm
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    1 – trade: the U.S. applied high tariffs to Brazilian manufactured goods. This – according to then Secretary of State Henry Kissinger – made Brazil turn to new partnerships. And that included partnerships with Communist countries such as China, Angola, and Mozambique. Also, the Brazilian dictatorship did not follow the free market receipt advised by the U.S.

    2 – ideology: after 1968 political power passed to the hands of an ultranationalistic team that was less cooperative than the first dictator, the staunchly pro-U.S. Castelo Branco.

    3 – the international reaction to the radicalization of the Brazilian dictatorship. Even the Catholic Church, which had previously worked to oppose Goulart, cut ties with the Brazilian government in 1968. As an American specialist on Brazilian history, James N. Green, said on the matter, the U.S. governement was under pressure from the American people not to collaborate too closely with Brazil.

    Still, it was Brazil who did the most to loose its ties with the U.S. As I said above, it was Brazil – not the U.S. – who renounced the military pact in 1977.

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  • August 22, 2010 at 5:53 pm
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    Also missing in Pitarque's attempts in contextualizing the current agreement, is a discussion of how the U.S. thwarts attempts by Brazil to modernize its military force. The Brazilian aerospacial program is boycotted by the U.S. due to fears that spacial technology can be applied to the construction of a ballistic missile platform. In 2001 the U.S. tried to make an agreement with Brazil that would permit it exclusive access to the Alcântara launching base (Northeast Brazil). However, the U.S. put a number of limitations on the agreement. One of the most polemical was this one: the USS 600,000.000 a year that the U.S. would have to pay Brazil for using the base could not be applied by the host country to advance its own spacial program. Fortunately the agreement wound up not passing in either Congress or popular referendum: 95% of the 10 million Brazilians who voted rejected the agreement. Pitarque's sentimental presentation of the current agreement as a genuine cooperation, an effort by the U.S. to teach Brazil how to protect its economic might or whatever, lacks historical support, even a recent one.

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  • August 22, 2010 at 5:55 pm
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    As for the 2010 agreement, everything Pitarque says about it is incorrect. There is one source for his assertions, including for his quotes (“under Brazilian command”, “resemble the US facility in Key West…"): Cipcol. But Cipcol also extracted its allegations from another source: an April 6th paper in the Estado de São Paulo daily.

    The Estado de São Paulo takes an adversarial stance toward the current Brazilian government. Sometimes it also dispenses away with factual accuracy in order to attack it. That was what happened with its coverage of the Brazil-U.S. agreement. Estado de São Paulo alleged that the agreement would predict building a base in Rio de Janeiro to fight drug trafficking. The base would include U.S. military presence.

    Both allegations are false. As I said previously, the agreement doesn't predict any U.S. presence and has nothing to do with drug trafficking (or terrorism, an issue Brazil has never had to struggle with).

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  • August 22, 2010 at 5:58 pm
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    The link to the agreement's text is at the bottom of this post. It is so run with vague and abstract language, that one can't quite define what is the agreement's scope, or if it has one. It predicts exchange of information, mutual visits by civil and military delegations, etc. But unlike the U.S.-Colombia agreement this one doesn't say anything about permitting U.S. presence in Brazil.

    Thomas Shannon, the U.S. ambassador to Brazil, said of the agreement in a 12th April interview with O Globo: "The purpose of the agreement is to promote bilateral cooperation and not to open military bases (…) It builds a structure to improve dialogue between the two countries in the Defence area."¹

    That the agreement would permit U.S. presence in Brazil, was also denied by Minister of Strategy Samuel Guimarães Pinheira. Unfortunately I'm not able to find e-links to an interview with him on this matter. But I believe what was said above is enough to rebute Pitarque's assertions. It seems that he was so enthused by gossip about U.S. presence in Brazil, that he forgot to check the facts before writing the paper.

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