One of the documents is a report by the CIA (US Central Intelligence Agency) about meetings between Brazilian and American military officials in 1971, in which one of the Brazilians says he believes that “the US obviously wants Brazil ‘to do the dirty work. ‘ in South America”.
Decades later, it is possible to say that the United States still has influence over Brazil and other countries in South America, although not as great as it was in the past. This is what Paulo Velasco, political scientist and coordinator of the post-graduate program in international relations at UERJ (State University of Rio de Janeiro), defends, and the Colombian Maria Elena Rodríguez, professor of international relations at PUC-Rio (Pontifical University Catholic of Rio de Janeiro), in an interview with the news agency Sputnik Brasil.
According to experts, the main manifestation of this influence today is the siege of Nicolás Maduro’s government in Venezuela. Right-wing governments in South America – especially those of Jair Bolsonaro, in Brazil, and Sebastián Piñera, in Chile – had great political and ideological alignment with that of Donald Trump in the United States.
According to Rodríguez, both South American presidents began to pressure Maduro at the request of the Organization of American States (OAS), which was founded under American influence during the Cold War to oppose the so-called “red threat” of the Soviet Union. As an example of this siege, the professor highlights the creation of the Lima Group, which currently has the participation of 15 countries (in addition to the US participation in the meetings) and has a declared priority “finding a political way out of the serious crisis” in Venezuela.
“Prosul, for example, is a scandalous initiative proposed by right-wing presidents to create a political, economic agenda and a regional coordination bloc to replace Unasur”, says the expert.
Velasco recalls that both Bolsonaro and Piñera – as well as other South American leaders, such as Colombian Iván Duque and Argentine Maurício Macri – followed Washington in recognizing Juan Guaidó as the interim president of Venezuela.
“These conservative governments end up a little inevitably following American positions”, evaluates the researcher.
Velasco points out that, over the decades, South American countries have gained greater autonomy in relation to the United States. Nowadays, there is no longer the same subservience that was seen in the past.
“Even the OAS is no longer a puppet as it was for so many decades in the hands of the United States,” says the political scientist.
Brazilian agents infiltrated in Chile
Among the documents revealed by the CIA is a telegram sent in March 1971 by the then Chilean ambassador to Brazil, Raúl Rettig, to the Chilean Ministry of Foreign Affairs, entitled: “Brazilian Armed Forces possibly carrying out studies on guerrillas being introduced in Chile”.
In the telegram, classified as “strictly confidential”, Rettig says that the Brazilian military was considering the possibility of overthrowing Chilean President Salvador Allende. The ambassador also informed that several Brazilian agents were infiltrating Chile as tourists to collect inside information and that there was an operating room in Brazil to plan the coup against Allende.
“At that time there was the Nixon Doctrine, which pointed to the need for the United States to outsource regional powers allied with the responsibility for containing Communism,” explains Velasco.
According to the researcher, the main motivator for the transfer of this responsibility was the North American indebtedness to the Vietnam War: “Looking at Latin America, the great allied power was Brazil”, adds Velasco.
Take down Allende ‘for the same reasons as Goulart’, Médici said
Another US intelligence document depicts General Emílio Garrastazu Médici’s visit to the White House in December 1971, when the then president of Brazil met his American counterpart Richard Nixon. The two commented on efforts to topple Allende.
The leader of the Brazilian dictatorship believed that the Chilean president should be deposed “for the same reasons as [João] Goulart had been deposed in Brazil “. Nixon stressed the importance of the two countries working together” in this context “and offered” discreet help “to Brazilian operations against Allende.
The conversation reveals Brazil’s leading role in the deposition of Salvador Allende and the role of a major influencer in Latin America. Rodríguez warns of the need to avoid relegating Brazil to the role of diplomatic puppet before the United States.
“Measuring precisely the role of the United States in triggering and sustaining military dictatorships in the Southern Cone means avoiding seeing internal actors as mere pawns in international chess,” says the expert.
Other dictatorships that had American support in Latin America were Guatemala, with the overthrow of the government of Jacobo Arbenz; that of Bolivia, under the command of Hugo Banzer; and that of Uruguay, with the representative Juan María Bordaberry, in addition to the intervention in the Dominican Republic in 1965, with which Brazil actively collaborated by sending military troops.
“Latin America was always seen by Washington as an area of influence to be kept at the margin of the so-called ‘red threat’. The United States even lent itself to military interventions to overthrow governments that could eventually lead some Latin American countries into orbit. Soviet “, concludes Velasco. (with agency Sputnik Brasil)
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