Declassified documents prove that the United States was planning a military coup in Brazil in the early sixties to prevent labor leader Leonel Brizola from reaching power and the possible "Cubanization" of the country revealed Tuesday daily Folha de S. Paulo.
In 1963 the US State Department already had a plan anticipating the Brazilian military coup which took place a year later, as an alternative to a possible "Cubanization" of the country if then governor Leonel Brizola (1922/2004) was elected president.
Folha de S. Paulo, which had access to the documents declassified by the US government and interviewed the man behind the plan, former US ambassador in Brasília Lincoln Gordon, revealed that the US already anticipated a coup as an alternative to prevent Brizola or any other "left wing" leader from reaching Brasília.
Lincoln Gordon, 93, currently in a nursing home in Washington wrote the so called "Contingency plan for Brazil" in the sixties, warning about the possibility of Brizola becoming elected president, and in a second document requested clandestine shipments of weapons to be taken to Brazil at night by submarine in support of the military.
Both documents in spite of having been declassified from the secret archives of the US government do not have electronic copies and can only be consulted personally, points out the São Paulo daily.
Both reports are endorsed by Benjamin H Head (1905/1993) who then had a commanding post in the State Department and who further suggests the ousting of then elected president João Goulart, to be succeeded by the president of the Lower House Ranieri Mazzilli and then the "interim take over by the military."
"Brazil was running the risk of becoming a second Cuba," argued Lincoln Gordon with the reporters from the Brazilian newspaper. He also wrote the two reports and addressed them to President Lyndon Johnson asking for a quick reply to the "deteriorating (Brazilian) economy and growing political unrest." Johnson rejected both proposals according to the declassified reports.
Gordon later explains that the execution of the plan was not necessary because of the Brazilian military coup of 1964, and subsequent authoritarian rule which was to last until 1985.
President Goulart at the time accused Ambassador Gordon of conspiring to oust him because Brazil was planning to impose taxes on iron ore exports which were mostly under control of US steel companies.
The Brazilian top brass, which toppled Goulart, as young officers belonged to the land and air Brazilian Expeditionary Force which during Second World War fought mostly in Italy in support of the US war effort. The Brazilians were distinguished for their service when taking Monte Casino.
The first "interim military president" in April 1964 was Marshal Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco, a Colonel at the time of the Brazilian Expeditionary Force.
In March 1964 President Goulart and governor Brizola to discourage strong civilian resistance in southern states to the military, and a possible bloodshed, fled to neighboring Uruguay where they took refuge until pressure from the Brazilian military government forced them to leave the country for Europe and the United States.
Goulart died under mysterious circumstances in Argentina in 1976 and Brizola survived him to become governor of Rio Grande do Sul, his native state, and of Rio do Janeiro, and run for president on several occasions.
The two "gaucho" (from Southern Brazil) political leaders who were described by the US State Department as left wing and admirers of Cuba were actually ranchers with extensive land holdings in their home state.
Brizola spent several years living in exile in New York before returning to Brazil in 1982 when he was first elected governor of Rio do Janeiro in spite of a vote fraud strategy planned by the military government to prevent him from getting back into politics.