Truthout

The social democratic, left-wing government of Brazil was removed in a coup.

Though that striking statement could be ripped from the headlines of newspapers today, it also describes the headlines of half a century ago, in April of 1964.

The Brazilian coup gets forgotten in the crowd of Latin American coups. In discussions of Latin American interventions, it often gets lost in the press of the 1954 Guatemalan coup against Jacobo Árbenz or the 1973 Chilean coup against Salvador Allende. But the Brazilian coup that was sandwiched between them was significant and merits more attention.

In Who Rules the World, Noam Chomsky explains that in 1962, President John F. Kennedy made the policy decision to transform the militaries of Latin America from defending against external forces to “internal security” or, as Chomsky puts it, “war against the domestic population, if they raised their heads.” The Brazilian coup is significant because it may have been the first major manifestation of this shift in the US’s Latin American policy. The Kennedy administration prepared the coup, and it was carried out shortly after Kennedy’s assassination. Chomsky says that the “mildly social democratic” government of João Goulart was taken out for a “murderous and brutal” military dictatorship.

The evidence that the US cooperated in the coup that removed Goulart from power is solid. The field report of the CIA station in Brazil shows clear US foreknowledge of the coup: “A revolution by anti-Goulart forces will definitely get under way this week, probably in the next few days.” President Lyndon B. Johnson gave Under Secretary of State George Ball and Assistant Secretary for Latin America Thomas Mann the green light to participate in the coup: “I think we ought to take every step that we can, be prepared to do everything that we need to do.”…Read More at Truthout