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Context of '1961: New President of Brazil Elected, Resigns'

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Janio da Silva Quadros is elected president of Brazil by a record margin. He mysteriously resigns, reportedly under military pressure. Joao Goulart, the vice-president, succeeds Quadros as president and aims to continue Quadros’ independent foreign policy. He expands the country’s trade with socialist countries and refuses to participate in the embargo against Cuba. (Keen 1992, pp. 357; Blum 1995; Fausto 1999, pp. 263-264) Joao Goulart is no communist. He is described as a “millionaire landowner and a Catholic who wears a medal of the Virgin around his neck.” He receives “a ticker-tape parade in New York City in April, and toasts the US ambassador, ‘To the Yankee Victory!’ after the Cuban Missile Crisis in October.” (Blum 1995)

During the 20-year period following the ousting of President Joao Goulart (see April 1, 1964), a succession of repressive right-wing governments rule Brazil. (Keen 1992, pp. 359-368) The US House Committee on Foreign Affairs will report in 1974: “[General Castelo Branco] shuts down Congress, virtually extinguishes political opposition, suspends habeas corpus for ‘political crimes,’ forbids by law criticism of the dictator, takes over labor unions, institutes police and military firing into protesting crowds, burns down peasant homes, [and] brutalizes priests,….” (US Congress 12/11/1974) Amnesty International also reports on the situation in Brazil: “Tortures range from simple but brutal blows from a truncheon to electric shocks. Often the torture is more refined: the end of a reed is placed in the anus of a naked man hanging suspended downwards on the pau de arara [parrot’s perch] and a piece of cotton soaked in petrol is lit at the other end of the reed. Pregnant women have been forced to watch their husbands being tortured. Other wives have been hung naked beside their husbands and given electric shocks on the sexual parts of their body, while subjected to the worst kind of obscenities. Children have been tortured before their parents and vice versa. At least one child, the three month old baby of Virgilio Gomes da Silva was reported to have died under police torture. The length of sessions depends upon the resistance capacity of the victims and have sometimes continued for days at a time.” (Amnesty International 1974; Blum 1995, pp. 171)

In his conversation with chief of staff H. R. Haldeman about White House counsel John Dean’s phony “Dean Report,” which will say that no one in the White House was involved in the Watergate conspiracy (see March 22, 1973), President Nixon says: “[The report] should lay a few things to rest. I didn’t do this, I didn’t do that, da-da, da-da, da-da, da-da, da-da, da-da, da-da. Haldeman didn’t do this. Ehrlichman didn’t do that. Colson didn’t do that. See?” (Reston 2007, pp. 42-43)


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