The Brazilian-American Alliance, 1937-1945

The Brazilian-American Alliance, 1937-1945

Frank D. McCann
Copyright Date: 1973
Pages: 542
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  • Book Info
    The Brazilian-American Alliance, 1937-1945
    Book Description:

    Getúlio Dornelles Vargas established his dictatorship in Brazil in 1937, and from 1938 through 1940 American diplomats and military planners were preoccupied with the possibility that Brazil might ally herself with Nazi Germany. Such an alliance would have made fortress America vulnerable and closed the South Atlantic to Allied shipping. Fortunately for America, Brazil eventually joined the Allies and American engineers turned Northeast Brazil into a vast springboard for supplies for the war fronts.

    Frank D. McCann has used previously inaccessible Brazilian archival material to discuss the events during the Vargas regime which brought about a close alliance between Brazil and the United States and resulted in Brazil's economic, political, and military dependence on her powerful North American ally. He shows that until 1940 the drive for closer union came largely from Brazil, which wanted to offset the shifting alliances of the Spanish-speaking countries and escape from British economic domination. American interest in Brazil increased during the 1930's as the U.S. turned to Latin America to recoup losses in foreign trade and as Washington began to fear that Nazism and Fascism would spread to South America.

    By 1940 the nature of Brazil's relationship with the United States made it impossible for Brazil to remain neutral. Frank McCann's analysis of Brazil's decision to join the Allies affords a view of the diplomatic uses of economic and military aid, which became a feature of diplomacy in the postwar years. It also provides insights into the military's influence on foreign policy, and into the functioning of Vargas'Estado Nôvo.

    Originally published in 1974.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-7015-8
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    F. D. M.
  4. Abbreviations
    (pp. xiii-1)
  5. [Map]
    (pp. 2-2)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 3-10)

    Visibility was zero. The cold, steady rain of the ioth and 11th continued to pour from the densely clouded sky on the morning of December 12, 1944. Two battalions of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force sloshed through the mud toward the German positions at Monte Castello. The war against Hitler’s Third Reich was in its final six months. Arriving at Naples in August, the Brazilians had missed the early victories of the Italian campaign and were determined to make up the lost opportunities for glory. Their troops were stalled before Monte Castello—they had failed to carry the heights in three...

  7. 1 Vargas’ Brazil
    (pp. 11-48)

    After a rain during the night and with a cloudy sky still threatening showers, Wednesday, November 10, 1937, dawned cool and breezy in Rio de Janeiro. The morning newspapers carried no mention of the manifesto read the previous day in the Congress, only a feature story on the new Minister of Justice, Francisco Campos. All appeared normal, and the city was outwardly calm despite the sudden closure of the Congress that morning. The old cog-railway carried its loads of tourists to the top of Corcôvado to see the view and to pose for photographs before the statue of Christ, while...

  8. 2 The Course
    (pp. 49-76)

    Foreign reaction to the new Brazilian regime split largely along ideological lines—democratic and totalitarian. In Buenos Aires the press comments were unfavorable—La Naciónstated that the new constitution signified the end of democratic government in Brazil,El Mundodeclared that the “soul of America cannot but feel alarmed,” whileLa Criticabelieved it an example of the fascist and Nazi activities endangering South America.² Santiago de Chile newspapers,La NaciónandLa Hora,denied the new regime was fascist and took the position that it was a purely political maneuver aimed at increasing Vargas’ authority and continuing him...

  9. 3 Sigma and Swastika
    (pp. 77-105)

    In the months after the establishment of the Estado Nôvo, Vargas destroyed two organizations that had contributed to the excited atmosphere in which the events of November 10 occurred: the Brazilian branch of the German National Socialist Party (NSDAP) and theAção Integralista Brasileira.Vargas attacked the first because it was a threat to Brazilian security and sovereignty, the second because it was a danger to his regime. Although Vargas apparently was never serious in his ostensive flirtation with the green-shirted Integralistas, he did welcome their support until he consolidated control. Integralista sympathy for and possible links with Nazi Germany...

  10. 4 Security of the Western Hemisphere
    (pp. 106-122)

    The increasing German interest and activity in Brazil and Spanish-America in the late 1930’s caused anxiety in Washington. Gradually, during 1938 the United States prepared diplomatically for a confrontation. It revamped the Latin American section of the State Department, it attempted to develop a workable arms-supply policy, and it sought to strengthen hemispheric unity. The Vargas government reacted strongly against Nazi activities in Brazil, even while the Brazilian army purchased weapons in Germany. Chancellor Aranha proposed that Brazil and the United States cooperate in defense, and that the Pan-American conference scheduled to meet at Lima in December discuss a hemispheric...

  11. 5 Toward Approximation
    (pp. 123-147)

    A series of high-level conferences between Brazilian and American officials followed the close cooperation at Lima. Foreign Minister Aranha arrived in the United States in February for a five-week stay. The new American army chief of staff, George C. Marshall, went to Brazil in May and returned home with General Góes Monteiro as his guest. Out of the exchange of views came the beginning of wartime cooperation, though the process was slow and at times seemed impossible of achievement. The changing European situation and isolationist sentiment in the United States adversely affected Roosevelt’s efforts to prepare the nation for possible...

  12. 6 The Open Door
    (pp. 148-175)

    Trade with the United States had long been an important factor in the Brazilian economy, but the great depression made it imperative for Brazil to expand its markets; it could not diversify its economy and at the same time be totally dependent on North American consumption of its exports. There was no demand in that market for Brazilian cotton and textiles, nor much for sugar and its derivative products. The Vargas government thus became committed to industrial development in order to transform Brazil from an exporter of raw materials to a consumer of its own natural resources.

    In the second...

  13. 7 Crisis and Uncertainty
    (pp. 176-212)

    The war gave a new dimension to Brazilian foreign relations. If victorious Germany confronted a weak and neutral United States in the Western Hemisphere, Brazil would be at the mercy of the Reich. With Axis forces sweeping all before them in Europe, the strategic situation and Brazil’s weakness combined to impose cautious neutrality. Argentina’s attitude was uncertain, demanding extensive preparations in the south despite American warnings about the vulnerability of the northeast. Unassimilated immigrant groups of questionable loyalties caused the government considerable worry, while a shaky economy and poor transportation and communications systems made control difficult. The armed forces were...

  14. 8 Airlines and Bases
    (pp. 213-239)

    A principal objective of United States foreign and military policy from late 1938 to December 1941 was to prevent the establishment of Axis bases in the Western Hemisphere. The rapid development of aviation in the late 1930’s made such an eventuality possible, and, together with the volatile world situation, forced American leaders to consider the aerial defense of the hemisphere. They worked to eliminate Axis-controlled airlines in Latin America, to obtain strategic bases, and to station American troops in northeast Brazil. They met with success in the first two instances but, as we have seen, were unable to persuade the...

  15. 9 An Uncertain Alliance
    (pp. 240-258)

    Vargas’ decision to permit the ADP to function in Brazil was one of the key factors in the republic’s eventual entry into the war on the allied side. But in early 1941 it was not clear that events were moving in that direction. The same weekend that Vargas gave Cauby Araujo verbal approval for the construction program the military asked the president to close the important Rio de Janeiro newspaper, theCorreio da Manhã,because it had refused an army request to publish anti-British items. TheSiqueira Camposand other such incidents hurt the pride of Generals Dutra and Góes...

  16. 10 No Turning Back
    (pp. 259-290)

    Brazil’s decision to break with the Axis had been contingent on Argentina’s adherence to the Rio declaration and Sumner Welles’ promise that the United States would supply arms. Vargas had committed the nation against the advice of his minister of war and general staff. His continuance in power was dependent on his ability to show that his decision would benefit Brazil: if the United States provided military and economic assistance he would be the darling of the military, if not, the game would be up. Security and development were the keys to the “Land of the Future” (as contemporaries referred...

  17. 11 Politics and Policy
    (pp. 291-342)

    Brazil’s decision to go to war against the Axis was far-reaching in its consequences. Most immediately it rallied opposition elements around the Vargas regime and forced Brazil’s neighbors to choose between neutrality and belligerency, while in the long run it loosened Brazil’s ties with Europe and linked it still closer to the United States. It may also have caused Brazil to avoid the kind of political turmoil that rocked Argentina in the next years.

    Brazil had been following a policy that went beyond benevolent neutrality in favor of the United States. Even before American entry into the war Brazil had...

  18. 12 The Cobra’s Pipe
    (pp. 343-377)

    If Brazil’s war role was to be that of a supplier of raw materials and sites for foreign military bases its role in the postwar world was likely to be of a similar nature. If its belligerency was symbolic, its participation at the peace conference would be symbolic as well. But the war offered Brazilian leaders an opportunity to realize cherished dreams of international power and prestige, and they hoped that participation in the fighting would secure Brazil’s postwar status. They had to show the world that their people were not merely a race of coffee-growing samba dancers but brave...

  19. 13 War and Development
    (pp. 378-402)

    When it went to war in 1942, Brazil was an economic dependency of Europe and the United States with foreign capital investment totaling $2,242,200,000 (US). Of that amount 48 percent was British, 25 percent American, 18 percent Canadian, and 9 percent from a variety of other sources. Foreign control extended to a wide range of business enterprises. The situation in Rio de Janeiro was painfully typical of the country as a whole. Brazilian Traction, Light, and Power Co., Ltd. of Canada provided electric power, artificial gas, and streetcar service. A British concern, Wilson & Sons, Ltd., imported most of Rio’s...

  20. 14 The Smoking Cobras
    (pp. 403-442)

    Beginning July 18, 1944, the press in Brazil burst out in joyous headlines announcing the safe arrival in Naples of the first FEB contingent two days before. Political commentator José Eduardo de Macedo Soares proclaimed it the greatest day in Brazilian history since independence. Brazil was in Europe, he said, to defend the Christian civilization that it had received from there. “Our Army offers its blood for the liberation of humanity. Our cause is that of the free democracies.”³ Numerous columns and editorials throughout the country heralded the nation’s unselfishness and idealism in seeking to do combat with the Nazi-fascist...

  21. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)
  22. 15 End of an Era
    (pp. 443-486)

    The year 1945 ended an era in Brazilian history that had begun with the consolidation of civilian control of the central government in 1898. During that forty-seven year period, although the military establishment was the ultimate source of power and legitimacy, politicians dominated and managed the officer corps to suit political goals. The military did not adhere to one political ideology, although they tended toward the conservative, gradualist politics of the middle classes from which most of the officers came. Perhaps the most distinctive political tendency in the thinking of the officer corps was a shallow, but continuous, undercurrent of...

  23. Note on Sources and Supplementary Bibliography
    (pp. 487-508)
  24. Index
    (pp. 509-527)