Thursday, February 21, 2013


A very under-reported tragic though not  unsurprising episode is the shady black manoeuvrings of the Kennedy Presidency in denying the stable flow of progressive democracy in the domestic politics of South Americas largest country, Brazil.We hear about Kissinger and Nixon in the brutal context of Allende and Chile , but why not so much about Kennedy and Johnson in Brazil a decade earlier, in what , geopolitically , was the prime piece in the domino effect that ushered in a dark age for the South American continent.One possible , and sadly highly plausible , reason could be we do not have spectacular TV footage of US made airplanes blasting a parliament house , thereby giving an iconic image to act as a focal point ,quite literally providing visual ammunition to which to hang around a blatant  campaign of  suppression.

This documentary goes a long way in setting the record straight and helping to rehabilitate the real aspirations and social programmes of well-meaning democratically mandated civilian governments that have had to have their reputations dug out from the six foot deep soiling.Collateral casualties of the Cold war game played by US foreign policy in what was a war to retain an absolute "economic interest" facet premised on the continuation of the Monrovian Doctrine.

As this very thoughtful and well researched review from The Variety states.

"The March 1964 coup that overthrew Brazil's popularly elected President Joao Goulart ushered in 21 years of military dictatorship and with it a prolonged period of suffering marked by disappearances and torture. Tavares goes back to 1961, when Goulart, as vice president, made a feather-ruffling state visit to Mao's China four months after the Bay of Pigs debacle. U.S. concerns about Brazil's leftward political shift came to a head when Goulart (popularly nicknamed Jango) became president in 1963, prompting Ambassador Lincoln Gordon to spearhead a CIA-backed covert campaign to bring the government down. (Gordon's assistant Robert Bentley is among those interviewed here, and his supercilious, disingenuous attitude does the State Department no favors.)
Gordon argued that if Brazil became communist, the country wouldn't be another Cuba, but rather another China. U.S. economic interests were too great to let that happen, and through various fronts, the CIA began to channel enormous sums of money into funding anti-Goulart candidates and planting false articles in the Brazilian press. When Lyndon B. Johnson became president, he continued his predecessor's policies, signing off on a campaign to secretly bring together dissident elements in the Brazilian army in order to topple Goulart's administration"
The problem for the US was not that the Goulart Government was communist , it was not , but that it was about to commit the "capital" offence of taxing Foreign multi-national companies and re-invest in poverty reduction projects and domestic infrastructural programmes.Goulart was a rare example of the Brazilian "white" elite showing genuine concern for the dis-enfranchised blacks , a process that today has black workers earning only half the income of non-blacks, so rare that he was the only one who was a member of " The main leader of his Carnival block Comigo Ninguém Pode, mãe-de-santo Jorgina Vieira, declared in an interview to the newspaper Zero Hora that Jango was one of the only white boys of São Borja to be a member of the block. In a particular Carnival celebration in the 1940s, he broke the high society rules and led the block inside the aristocratic Clube Comercial, which would not allow blacks in their halls until the late 1960s."

Goulart was also instrumental in overseeing the creation of a minimum wage in 1953 , nearly half a century before the UK established one.His reforms , which provoked the ire of the US and led to this  sustained, coordinated campaign of overthrow another democracy, were minor as far as full blown communist style nationalisation is concerned , hardly the stuff of Brazil going over to the Soviet Block or anywhere near it.

This article gives a good synopsis of the attitude of todays Brazil to that time  , a time from which only one person has been convicted of wrong-doing , and that only in a symbolic sentence , and there has been no satisfactory investigation along the lines of a truth and reconciliation  commission which means many of the Families of those that were killed, tortured or disappeared have never been able to find the bodies of their loved ones , yet alone to lay them in to rest.

"The Court of Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS) recognized the importance of identifying and punishing the torturers of the military dictatorship, ruling that the maintenance of the Amnesty Law hurts international agreements signed by Brazil. But unfortunately, the Brazilian government keeps ignoring the decision.
The torture is institutionalized in this country because you can not punish torture after having pardoned the biggest torturers in our history and not even identify them."
The irony of the situation is that the current President of Brazil was tortured during those military days , and though she is now the Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces she is unable to bring any closure to bear to the the amnesties enshrined  in the constitution drawn up by the last dictator a constitution to which parliament and offices of state are beholden.

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