Jump to content
The Education Forum

The Day That Lasted 21 Years: Rio Review

Recommended Posts

From hollywoodreporter.com:

Excellent archive documentary examines local factors, and U.S. complicity, that turned Brazil into a military dictatorship.

by Stephen Dalton

October 9, 2012


The U.S. foreign policy of “regime change” is nothing new, as this gripping documentary demonstrates. Drawing on recently declassified White House files, The Day That Lasted 21 Years visits the right-wing military coup that ousted Brazil’s democratically elected, left-leaning, Kennedy-style President João “Jango” Goulart from office in March 1964. Goulart’s fatal error was in being too friendly to Communist China and Cuba, as well as seeking to reform land rights and extract higher taxes from US companies. The result: he was overthrown, allowing a string of brutal dictators to rule Latin America’s largest nation for the next two decades.

Director Camilo Tavares presents this stark history lesson in a no-frills, televisual style, so he is fortunate to have so many colorful characters and such a juicy spy-movie plot to sweep him along. While the broad framework of events may be familiar to casual students of U.S. and Brazilian history, The Day That Lasted 21 Years fills in the canvas with plenty of absorbing detail. Further festival interest seems likely, though the film’s most obvious outlet outside domestic markets is sure to be on the small screen.

The twists and turns of the plot against Goulart play like a vintage Graham Greene or John LeCarre yarn. It comes as no surprise that Machiavellian US ambassador Lincoln Gordon was lobbying his Washington paymasters for the coup, even while he sipped cocktails with the Brazilian President, nor that the CIA were stirring up dissent by funding virulently anti-Goulart groups. When the crunch came, a US Navy task force was even parked offshore on “routine” manoeuvres in case the generals required extra muscle.

In the event, Goulart conceded defeat within hours and fled across the border without need for direct foreign intervention. So while anti-American conspiracy theorists will find much to savor here, including scratchy vintage audio of both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson appearing to endorse regime change, they may also be disappointed that the coup plotters also had ample domestic support among all sections of Brazilian society.

Full review: http://www.hollywood...-years-o-377451

From the Spartacus page on Nelson Rockefeller:

In reality, Rockefeller's political views were more conservative than they appeared. For example, in 1964, one of Rockefeller's law firm’s most important clients, M. A. Hanna Mining Company, had a serious problem.John J. McCloy had several meetings with Hanna’s chief executive officer, George M. Humphrey. The two men had been close friends since Humphrey was Eisenhower’s Treasury Secretary. Humphrey was very concerned about the company’s investment in Brazil. Hanna Mining was the largest producer of iron ore in the country. However, after João Goulart had become president in 1961, he began to talk about nationalizing the iron ore industry.

Goulart was a wealthy landowner who was opposed to communism. However, he was in favour of the redistribution of wealth in Brazil. As minister of labour he had increased the minimum wage by 100%. Colonel Vernon Walters, the US military attaché in Brazil, described Goulart as “basically a good man with a guilty conscience for being rich.”

The CIA began to make plans for overthrowing Goulart. A psychological warfare program approved by Henry Kissinger, at the request of telecom giant ITT during his chair of the 40 Committee, sent U.S. PSYOPS disinformation teams to spread fabricated rumors concerning Goulart.

John J. McCloy was asked to set up a channel of communication between the CIA and Jack W. Burford, one of the senior executives of the Hanna Mining Company. In February, 1964, McCloy went to Brazil to hold secret negotiations with Goulart. However, Goulart rejected the deal offered by Hanna Mining.

The following month Lyndon B. Johnson gave the go-ahead for the overthrow of João Goulart (Operation Brother Sam). Colonel Vernon Walters arranged for General Castello Branco to lead the coup. A US naval-carrier task force was ordered to station itself off the Brazilian coast. As it happens, the Brazilian generals did not need the help of the task force. Goulart’s forces were unwilling to defend the democratically elected government and he was forced to go into exile.


On July 30, 1962 President Kennedy met with Brazilian ambassador Lincoln Gordon to discuss the situation in Brazil. Kennedy taped the conversation. http://books.google....art cia&f=false

From William Blum's book Killing Hope: http://books.google....art cia&f=false

In 1984 Silvio Tendler produced an award-winning documentary (Jango) on the life of Goulart and the military coup that overthrew him: http://en.wikipedia....ki/Jango_(film)

Thy Will Be Done.

Edited by Michael Hogan
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for that Michael I hope it comes to my city soon, if not I'll try to download it off the Net.

One small correction. "Jango" Goulart was never elected President. He was elected Vice-President and became President when Janio Quadros resigned in September 1961.

He was first elected VP in 1955 under Juscelino Kubitschek, a center-left progressive, and was re-elected to that position in 1960, with Quadros, a rightwinger. Ironically Quadros had been a major player in a failed coup in 1954. In a move designed to get more power from Congress in 1961 Quadros, assuming they would not want leftist Goulart to take power, tendered his resignation. But they refused his ultimatum. This almost led to a coup to prevent Goulart from taking office, but a compromise was reached and the constitution was changed to curtail the President's powers.

I am not sure what the Kennedy administration's involvement was with the 1961 shenanigans but soon thereafter they started strong arming Goulart to grant concessions to ITT and other US corporations and working with forces that wanted to depose him. Moves by conservative Brazilians and the USG became more intense after a January 1963 plebiscite gave Jango his presidential powers back. This was discussed in a few books including The Fifty-Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War by Norman Friedman and United States Penetration of Brazil by Jan Knippers Black

Many people have very simplistic views of JFK that fit with their political agendas. Chomsky style leftists and some conservatives view him as a typical Cold Warrior not very different from if not worse (or better from the latter prospective) than Ike and Nixon. They for example ignore his African policy which Jim DiEugenio has discussed eloquently on this forum, his site and elsewhere. OTOH Many liberal progressives types (like DiEugenio) who hero worship JFK ignore, gloss over or deny his Nixon/Ike/LBJ-like actions and policies in places like Brazil 1962 (or '61) – 1963 and initially at least in Vietnam.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now
  • Create New...