The US government covertly encourages and supports violent military takeover of Brazil.

The Johnson administration, under the direction of Thomas C. Mann, implements a new policy (“The Mann Doctrine”) to install military governments that will protect business interests.

Brazil was the first spectacular victim of this Doctrine. Earlier in March, President João Goulart left the capital Brasilia to hold a mass rally in Rio de Jainero. In doing so he defied establishment pressure, which opposed his agenda of nationalization and land reform.

It was even proclaimed that this rally would be an act offensive to the democratic regime, as if in Brazil the reactionary forces were still the owners of democracy, of the squares, of the streets. Damned be the democracy that needs to be defended by such democrats.

Democracy for these democrats is not the regime of freedom of assembly for the people: what they want is a democracy of muted people, muzzled in their aspirations and suffocated in their demands.

The democracy they want to impose is the anti-people, the anti-union, the anti-reform democracy, therefore, the one that only contemplates the interests of the group they serve or represent.

The democracy they want is the kind of democracy that would liquidate Petrobrás; it is the democracy of the private monopoly, domestic and foreign, it’s democracy of the fight against popular governments that led Getúlio Vargas to the supreme sacrifice.

Indeed. This and other mass mobilizations were increasingly threatening to establishment interests: the church, landowners, and, of course, multinational business interests.

Plans to overthrow Goulart swung into full effect. While the coup itself was carried out by the Brazilian military, the US government was actively involved. The CIA, the State Department, the armed forces, and the President, all participated in the plot to overthrow Goulart, which came to fruition on April 1, 1964.

One recording of a White House phone call features the voices of George Ball, Thomas Mann, and Lyndon Johnson. At 4:29 you can hear US President Johnson give an unequivocal green light in support of the bloody coup, which brought decades of terror and suffering to Brazil.

Within the US government, there is no question over whether the coup benefits US interests. As soldiers fire into crows of angry protestors, diplomatic telegrams cynically describe the event as a “democratic rebellion”.

Of course, the US has been fomenting regime change for a long time, as it has done in numerous other Latin American countries. A primary tactic is the cultivation of a strong relationship with the military; such that it has more loyalty to the United States than to its own civilian leadership. As Ralph Burton, Director of the Office of Brazilian Affairs, reported to Thomas Mann on January 8, 1964:

I might add that there is in the military a very considerable reservoir of good will toward the United States and sympathy toward U.S. objectives and policy; evidence of this erupted in many quarters at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. For this reason and because of the considerations set forth above we have taken the position that the cultivation of the Brazilian military has high political importance and we have therefore, for example, pushed forward a program of defense lending for C–130’s.

The real question is how to keep US involvement quiet enough to avoid bad publicity.  From a CIA memo written April 1:

The Naval task force refers to an aircraft carrier, warships, tankers, and supply boats, dispatched to provide the Brazilian military with all assistance necessary to gain control of the government.

Who knows what type of intervention is described in item #4. Even these censored documents pertaining to the coup will not be released for decades. (See: the National Security Archive.) Whose secrets are so important that they must remain protected for 50+ years into the future?

Notes

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