1985: The end of military rule

It has been 51 years since one of the most infamous events in recent world history occurred. In 1964, a coup was held that ushered two decades of military rule on the South American country. On April 1964, President Joao Goulart was removed of his position by military forces against his will, that were ironically supported by the United States. The removal of Goulart from presidency goes back to 1961, when Goulart visited China and many rumors and conspiracies arised of him being a possible “communist.” This time period was also the height of the Cold War where the Americans were fighting the spread of communism. The United States then aided groups in Brazil to stage a coup to remove Goulart because of his suspected communist connections. His removal was part of the United States’ plan to stop the country from slipping towards communism. Multiple representatives were chosen in the span of four years by the military in power, nevertheless all of them promised that the country would soon return to the “people” and proper elections would be held. However by 1968, that never materialized and repression was ramped up. On October 1968, Congress was disbanded by the Institutional Act 5 that was issued by the military government. The government also suspended habeas corpus (is a recourse in law whereby a person can report an unlawful detention or imprisonment before a court, usually through a prison official) and increased censorship. During that time, thousands were arrested for political dissent and revolts. The military government kept promising the people then when the time is right they will restore the political environment that preceded them. The military government nevertheless was not as vicious as seen in other Latin American countries at the time as death rates remained relatively low in comparison. By 1978-79, the military regime actually had relative success in improving the economy. Meanwhile, in that same period an amnesty was passed that restored political rights. Political parties soon began to run freely without any resistance or repression. By 1985, the Brazilian Democratic Movement party, that encompassed both liberal and conservative representatives and had no clear ideology, led by Tancredo Neves won the election and restored Civilian Rule for the first time in over two decades. A utopian excitement soon rose throughout the country as the belief in a fresh start and a new political environment would help improve the lives of all the civilians. That same year, Brazil drafted a constitution that was based off of the US Constitution. Unfortunately, the optimism soon turned into frustration as Brazil would be plagued by economic instability that would delay the rise of the country for another two decades.

The Brazilian regime shift from 1964 to 1985 is another indication of how world politics and other countries’ agenda can affect domestic policies in others. The United States engagement in the “Cold War” and their implementation of Containment policies to limit the sphere of communist influence clearly played a role in the downfall of the Presidency in 1964. This is not to say the United States supported military rule and oppression of many peoples’ rights and liberties, it is however an indicator that fear can force some actors to take actions that are for their self-interest.