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BRAZIL'S MISSION TO HAITI: CONTINUITY OR DEPARTURE?
A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
MASTER OF ARTS
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The research for this thesis was supported by a Foreign Language Area Studies
Fellowship administrated by the Center for Latin American Studies.
I would like to thank Dr. Jeffrey Needell and Dr. Philip Williams for their
participation on my thesis committee, and Dr. Ana Margheritis and Dr. Leslie Anderson
for their help in the early stages of this project. I would especially like to thank Dr. Terry
McCoy, former director of the Center for Latin American Studies and my committee
chairman, for his guidance and encouragement.
Several people offered me help with this thesis, especially in Brazil. I would like to
thank Dr. Timothy Power of Oxford University for his initial encouragement,
indispensable assistance in navigating the various government libraries in Brasilia and
help in locating contacts. I would like to thank Dr. David Fleischer, of the Universidade
de Brasilia, Dr. Paulo Roberto Almeida and Achilles Zaluar, both of the Itamaraty, for
their patience, time, and candor. I would also like to thank several people in Brasilia who
helped me chase down documents, articles, and books: Carla Filomena Santos Lopes and
Maria Salete Carvalho Reis, both of the Biblioteca Ant6nio Francisco Azevedo da
Silveira do Palacio Itamaraty, Maria Alves da Silva of the Biblioteca Academico Luiz
Viana Filho do Senado Federal, and the entire staff of the Biblioteca Central da
Universidade de Brasilia -- muito obrigado.
I would also like to thank Paul Losch and Richard Phillips, of the Latin American
Collection at the University of Florida, for their help in locating texts for this thesis.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ................................................................................................. iii
ABSTRACT ............... .......................................... vi
1 IN T R O D U C T IO N ............................................................................. .............. ...
2 THE FOREIGN POLICY OF AN EMPIRE .............................................................4
The Rio Branco Era and the Beginning of the Itamaraty ...........................................7
The V argas E ra ............................................................... ... .... ........ 12
D em ocracy Breaks D ow n ............................................................ ............... .18
T he M military E ra .............. ........................ .................. ................. 2 1
Argentina, Civilian Foreign Policy, and Mercosul................. ............................26
Fernando H enrique C ardoso ......... ................... ................................ ............... 30
The Lula A dm inistration.................................................. ............................... 32
3 THE MISSION IN ITS FIRST YEAR .... ..................... ...............34
The Mission to Haiti: The Honeymoon ... ..................... ...............35
E arly Setbacks ..........................................................................38
D isappointm ent in the Brazilian Press................................... ........................ 44
The Debate Heats Up.................... ................................. .. 46
The M mission Turns a Year Old ............................................................................54
C o n c lu sio n s........................................................................................................... 5 6
4 MAKING SENSE OF THE MISSION ........................................... ............... 61
N ew C challenges for B razil........... ............................. ................ ............... 61
T he U N Security C council ........................................ ............................................64
W hat it Could M ean............... .. .... ..................................68
5 C O N C L U SIO N .......... ......................................................................... ........ .... .. 7 1
B IBLIO G R A PH Y ................... ....... ............................................... .............. 77
Prim ary Sources ................. ..................... ......... .............. ............ 77
Secondary Sources .................. ....................................................... 77
B IO G R A PH IC A L SK E TCH ...................................................................... ..................82
Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts
BRAZIL'S MISSION TO HAITI: CONTINUITY OR DEPARTURE?
Chair: Terry McCoy
Major Department: Latin American Studies
My study analyzes the Brazilian mission to Haiti in the context of the history of
Brazil's foreign policy. It offers a brief account of Brazilian foreign policy over the last
200. It also provides an analysis of some of the trends that shaped Brazil's government
and how those trends influenced foreign policy. Using articles culled from Brazilian
newspapers, I examined the challenges that Brazil's UN forces met on the ground in Haiti
during the mission's first year. I tried to explain the rationale and significance of the
mission, and attempted to evaluate the mission in light of Brazil's foreign policy
objectives. I argue that the Brazilian mission may seem anomalous to some readers
because it was conducted by a developing South American nation. However, given
Brazil's longstanding goals, this mission represents more of an outgrowth of history than
a break from tradition.
This study views Brazil's stewardship of the United Nations mission to Haiti
through the history of its foreign policy. In the international system following the Cold
War and in the even more uncertain period after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001,
UN missions have taken on new significance as various states search for the proper
anchor for their foreign policy. In the case of Brazil, that anchor always has been its
brilliantly professionalized foreign policy corps, the Itamaraty. This thesis seeks to
answer the following: How does the Haitian mission fit Brazil's diplomatic traditions?
Does this mission represent a departure for Brazil, or is it consistent with the nation's rich
diplomatic past? Depending on the outcome for Brazil, what could this mission bring?
What could Brazil lose in the bargain?
In framing this thesis, it is important to bear in mind a few scholarly trends that
have defined the study of political science in Latin America over the years. This thesis
draws heavily from international relations literature originating in both the United States
Brazil over the years has moved through strains of international relations theories
which at least to an extent serve to characterize the trends that dominated its diplomacy
over the years. As Brazil became a republic, a broadly liberal foreign policy that stressed
multilateralism and duty-free commercial relationships came to the fore during the Rio
Branco era and afterward. Under the getuliato which began in 1930 and guided Brazil
through the Second World War, Getulio Vargas carefully steered Brazil between the
United States and Germany, putting Brazil on a course of developmentalist nationalism, a
subj ect dealt with by Stanley Hilton in Brazil and the Great Powers, 1930-39: The
Politics of Trade Rivalry. During the period following Vargas, Brazil turned to a leftist
and activist policy under Jodo Goulart, who continued in Vargas' populist tradition that
led to the military takeover that threw Brazil into two decades of authoritarianism, an act
which could be articulated through various paradigms like rational choice and the
"prisoner's dilemma," a subject explored in detail in Youseff Cohen's Radicals,
Reformers and Reactionaries: The Prisoner 's Dilemma and the Collapse ofDemocracy
in Latin America. By the mid-nineteen seventies, several books published on Brazilian
foreign policy dwelt on its potential as the next world power. The military brought Brazil
under a variety of neorealism as it sought to neutralize its top rival, Argentina and root
out political dissidents. 1 This new attention produced Ronald Schneider's Brazil.
Foreign Policy of a Future World Power and Wayne Selcher's Brazil in the Global
Power Systems. Yet after the economic miracle vanished Brazil returned to being thought
of as a developing nation, its "world power" status being relegated now to that of a
"middle power," as one can see from Selcher's later work.
As democracy returned to Brazil, commercial relationships, individual rights and
regional agreements came back to the fore as Mercosul knitted the Southern Cone
1 Rational choice refers to a theory in political science that analyzes behavior by looking at decisions as a
logical evaluation of a set of alternatives. The prisoner's dilemma is a table used to describe a series of
negotiations between two opposite parties, modeled after two prisoners who have been arrested and held
separately for questioning after the commission of the crime. If neither cooperate, they would both receive
a light prison term. If one cooperates and the other stays quiet, the cooperating party goes free while the
quiet party gets a stiff sentence. If both cooperate, each would receive a prison term slightly longer than
what they would serve if they had both stayed silent. Neorealism is a concept that came into vogue in IR
circles during the nineteen eighties. It borrows realist concepts, using the state as the basic unit of analysis,
and denying the existence of human progress. It differs from traditional realism in that it accepts alliances
together in an imperfect customs union. Combined with monetary stabilization, the
privatization of huge government concerns, participation in United Nations missions and
the drastic reduction of duties under Fernando Henrique Cardoso, by the time Brazil
entered the twenty-first century it was a model of the neoliberal Latin American country,
and began to participate more vigorously in peacekeeping missions abroad. Now under
the administration of Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazil appears to be returning to an
activist role in international relations that seeks to build on Brazil's relationships with
other developing nations in an effort to advance its international objectives, many of
which I argue have been a longstanding part of Brazilian foreign policy. Perhaps the two
best scholars tracing the foreign policy trends of the past fifteen years are Paulo Roberto
de Almeida, whose work is sadly only available in Portuguese, and Thomaz Guedes da
Costa, who wrote Brazil in the New Decade: Searchingfor a Future.
The first chapter of this thesis will provide the context necessary to evaluate the
Brazilian mission in Haiti by offering up a history of its foreign policy and how it has
evolved over the years. Through content analysis of Brazilian newspapers culled during
the Haitian mission's first year, the second chapter follows the trajectory of the mission as
it was viewed through the Brazilian press during this period. Finally, the third chapter
will take stock of the Haitian mission through the lens of Brazil's foreign policy
traditions, and try to evaluate its potential future implications.
THE FOREIGN POLICY OF AN EMPIRE
Brazil occupies a preponderant position in South America. Ironically, the
geographically and demographically dominant country in Latin America is in many ways
atypical of any other Latin American country. It speaks a unique language, looks back to
a unique history, and even built its independent national identity on the unlikely series of
events that led a European monarch to eschew his Continental throne for control of a
New World empire, because "the strength of the Portuguese Empire lay not in Europe but
in the New World."1 For Brazil, the creation of a single state was hardly a foregone
conclusion; with the benefit of hindsight it is easy to draw the conclusion that a huge
independent republic was the long-term goal of every visionary who offered a
proclamation during the nineteenth century. Certainly the amount of praise that Brazilians
heap upon Joaquim Jose da Silva Xavier, is lasting proof of this. Better known as "o
Tiradentes, da Silva Xavier is the most eulogized conspirator of the 1788-9 stab at
independence known as the IM ,i oifl'JI it uMineira. Often considered the father of an
independent Brazil, Tiradentes died without ever knowing there would be such a thing
and is revered because he had the dubious fortune of being the sole conspirator who met
his end in the grip of a noose.2 A single independent republic known as Brazil was a
1 For a good look at the transfer of the Brazilian court and the retention of Brazil's national integrity, see
Roderick Barman, Brazil, the Forging of a Nation: 1798-1852 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988),
esp. pp. 65-217. See p. 11 for the cited quotation.
2 See Barman, pp. 11-12, and see note number 111 on p. 252. Also see Kenneth Maxwell, C i? and
Conspiracies, Brazil and Portugal: 1752-1808 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1974).
distant and ephemeral concept for much of its history. Even when that national concept
hardened into a cogent identity, the actual borders of that nation remained in dispute into
the twentieth century.
In the face of such concepts of national identity a remarkable diplomatic corps has
served Brazil well. The country has a long and storied tradition of activist diplomacy.
This makes excellent sense given the country's dimensions in terms of landmass and
population. In South America, only Ecuador and Chile lack a border with Brazil, and the
Brazilian Empire's unique position among viceroyalties or newly-independent
revolutionary republics underscored the need for Brazil to take an aggressive stance to
several foreign policy issues. Several of these nascent republics rubbed up against Brazil
in regions of the continent that were both fought over and valuable. From the time it was
settled, Brazil was surrounded by potential enemies from cultural and linguistic
backgrounds different from Brazil but similar among themselves. In short, Brazil shared
borders with nation-states with which it shared little else. Brazil would need a
professionalized diplomatic corps to deal with the numerous neighbors it had along its
borders. In the nineteenth century, Brazil's foreign policy focused primarily on a strategy
of dividing the Spanish American nations that surrounded it, and this often meant foiling
its largest and most populous neighbor, Argentina. Several of Brazil's most daring feints
of foreign policy during the early nineteenth century were geared toward gaining control
of the Rio de la Plata commercial corridor and interrupting Argentina's own ideas of
manifest destiny regaining the old viceroyalty organized around the river.3 It has also
3 For an interesting example of Brazilian intrigue against Argentina see Jeffrey Needell, "Provincial Origins
of the Brazilian State: Rio de Janeiro, the Monarchy, and National Political Organization, 1808-1853,"
Latin American Research Review, vol. 36, no. 3 (2001) 132-53, esp. p. 145. As Needell demonstrates, this
cabinet was directly responsible for the overthrow of the Juan Manuel de las Rosas dictatorship by the
meant that Brazil kept careful involvement in Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay, and made
sure that it remained on friendly diplomatic terms with Chile, all in an effort to keep
those nations from forging an alliance with Argentina.4 Brazil sent troops to crush
Paraguay during the War of the Triple Alliance (1865-70) and kept the Spanish American
nations in the Southern Cone further divided. Busy enough with their own internecine
conflicts, the Spanish American republics had little time or inclination to turn their
weapons on Brazil in an effort to regain a Jesuit mission or a river valley. This policy of
division and the process of border dispute resolution led to Brazil's diplomatic corps
creating a few rules of engagement as it dealt with different nations in the hemisphere.
First, if possible avoid discussing treaties with more than one nation at a time. Second,
secure a bilateral agreement before moving on to a multilateral pact. Third, try for a pan-
American solution whenever it presents itself, as this tends to ensure peaceful conflicts
resolution, and would stymie efforts to team up against Brazil.5
Brazil's isolation also extended to its unique political situation. As an empire
among independent republics, Brazil already had a national mythology that fired the
patriotic imagination. As the nineteenth century neared its end and a revolution finally
cashiered Brazil's monarchy and established a republic this imperial dream persisted. The
green field and the gold diamond that framed the crest of the family Braganca still circled
the globe of the new Brazilian state. The order and progress of the future would be
cabinet of saquaremas organized by Pedro II during the mid-1800s. Also see Frank D. McCann, "Brazilian
Foreign Relations in the Twentieth Century," Brazil in the International System: The Rise of a Middle
Power, Wayne Selcher, ed. (Boulder, Colo: Westview Press, 1981), pp. 1-23, esp. p. 2 for Argentine
designs on the old viceroyalty.
See E. Bradford Bums. The Unwritten Alliance: Rio-Branco and Brazilian American Relations
(NewYork: Columbia University Press, 1966), pp. 135-6.
5 See McCann, p. 2.
viewed through the grandeza national of the past. Although the young Brazil hardly had
a cogent national identity during the much of the imperial period and at times was
wracked with rebellions, among the Brazilian elite (from which the country's diplomatic
corps exclusively drew) this notion of grandeza national was no passing fancy. As the
Brazilian elite began to move back and forth between the plantations and the city, a
national identity emerged that envisioned a Brazil as a tropical metropole modeled after
Paris.6 The slaveholding origins of Brazil's elites had a lasting stamp on Brazilian
diplomats. Almost all of the diplomats during the empire came from slaveholding and
"heavily Africanized" regions of Brazil.7 Like in many elite government sectors located
in Rio, in the realm of foreign policy the Brazilian diplomat could adapt a European
domain to Brazilian realities, polishing Continental languages and English furniture while
coming out of a rural and ethnically-mixed society.8
The Rio Branco Era and the Beginning of the Itamaraty
The Itamaraty Palace was built in Rio de Janeiro on what is now Avenida Marechal
Floriano in 1854 by Francisco Jose da Rocha, son of the first Baron of Itamaraty. The
neoclassical mansion is believed to be designed by a Portuguese architect heavily
influenced by French designs of the time. The Imperial government agreed to buy the
building in 1889, although it was the revolutionary republican government that actually
6 For studies centered around the pervasiveness of French cultural influence in Brazil, especially where
elites are concerned, see Kirsten Schultz, Tropical Versailles: Empire, Monarchy, and the Portuguese
Royal Court in Rio de Janeiro, 1808-1821 (New York: Routledge, 2001), and Jeffrey Needell, A Tropical
Belle Epoque: Elite Culture and Society in Turn-of-the-Century Rio de Janeiro (Cambridge: University of
Cambridge Press, 1988).
SMcCann, p. 3.
8 The classic text on Brazil's plantation origins is Gilberto Freyre, The Masters and the Slaves: A Study in
the Development ofBrazilian Civilization (New York: Random House Publishers, 1964).
ended up paying for it. The palace served as the presidential residence until 1898, and the
Foreign Ministry started occupying it the next year. The ostentation of the building
combined with the increased prestige of the ministry eventually led to its being known
colloquially as "o Itamaraty. Over time the name became more official. When the
ministry moved to Brasilia in 1970, both it and the modernist edifice it moved into
retained the name Itamaraty.9
As Brazil became a republic, its foreign policy took on importance that matched the
opulence of its environs. By 1902 the ministry only employed two dozen people under
the durable but complacent supervision of the Viscount of Cabo Frio (1865-1902), who
somehow avoided being replaced through the 1889 revolution.10 As the twentieth century
began, the foreign policy of the Old Republic came under the purview of the most
influential diplomat of Brazil's history Jose Maria da Silva Paranhos, the Baron of Rio
Branco. Rio Branco urged the consolidation of Brazil's borders, encouraged a stronger
military and advocated spreading Brazil's economic dependence among industrialized
nations rather than have it become beholden to a single industrialized country.ll The
Baron enjoyed one of his first and undoubtedly gratifying victories in Washington in
1895, when he outfoxed his Argentine rival, Estanislau Zeballos, and coaxed U.S.
president Grover Cleveland into awarding Brazil 13,680 square miles of mission territory
along the Rio de la Plata. The young baron turned out to be quite good at shoring up
9 For a well-illustrated history of the two buildings, see JoAo Hermes Pereira de Araujo, Silvia Escorel, and
Andre Aranha Correa do Lago, Paldcio Itamaraty: Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro (Sio Paulo: Banco Safra,
1993), pp. 325-9. Especially note the text-strewn appearance of Rio Branco's office in some of the
10 See Joseph Smith, Unequal Giants: Diplomatic Relations Between the United States and Brazil, 1889-
1930 (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1991), p. 4, and Bums, pp. 38-9.
1 See Joseph Smith, pp. 35-52. Also see McCann, p. 4.
Brazil's borders. Five years later he convinced the Swiss president to award 101,000
square miles to Brazil that France claimed was part of French Guiana. "Rio-Branco
successfully projected national interests into the international sphere. Brazil returned
from two international tribunals vindicated, first with a victory over its archrival,
Argentina, and then with an award over a major European nation, France."12
Rio Branco modernized Brazilian foreign policy, and in so doing transformed the
Itamaraty from a sleepy and neglected office into a professionalized and well-oiled
machine. Interestingly enough, Rio Branco's first major reform in the Itamaraty was to
install a world-class bathroom. That cornerstone of a functioning office established, he
then gracefully conducted more notable reforms. He gently put the older guard of the
office out to pasture, created the Itamaraty library (with a section on cartography) and
hired more staff. During the decade (1902-12) he spent in office, he cemented Brazil's
boundaries and resolved the myriad of border disputes that remained unsettled when he
returned to Brazil. Under his watch Acre became indisputably Brazilian (it was claimed
by Bolivia and Peru), the border with British Guiana was settled (although on terms
slightly unfavorable to Brazil), and borders were decided with Colombia, Ecuador (then a
border country) the Netherlands, Uruguay and Venezuela. He also made Brazil a more
active participant in international congresses, improved Brazil's diplomacy throughout
Latin America, and cleverly positioned Brazil as a symbolic representative of Latin
American diplomacy by welcoming the first Latin American cardinal in 1905.13 Rio
Branco set the stage for what later ended up being recognized as foundational principles
12 See Joseph Smith, pp. 35-52 and Burns, pp. 32-3 for geographic dimensions and quotation.
13 Joseph Smith, p. 52 for Latin American cardinal, also see Bums, pp. 38-51.
for the Itamaraty; he fit (or forged) the classic mold of the Brazilian diplomat better than
When he returned to Brazil at the end of 1902 to become Minister of Foreign
Relations, he had lived most of his life in Europe and was initially uncomfortable with
Brazilian domestic politics. However, Rio Branco differed from many of the
conventional elite of his day in one salient respect "he was realistic and understood that
Brazil's future was in the New World, not Europe... Joining the ranks of the new world
republics in 1889, Brazil then had a closer political kinship with its neighbors than with
distant, monarchical Europe. Hence, there were cogent reasons for the new emphasis."14
As control of the Itamaraty changed hands, the overarching themes of its foreign policy
shifted as well. A stem policy of realism during the days of the empire that emphasized
Brazil's uniqueness from the rest of the hemisphere made way for a more liberal version
of Americanism and especially embraced the United States.15
Rio Branco initiated an epoch of cooperation with the United States centered
around a lucrative commercial relationship based on Brazil's burgeoning coffee exports.
When the German ship Panther landed in Santa Catarina without Brazilian consent in
1905 to allegedly apprehend a German who fled to Brazil, Rio Branco implied the
Monroe Doctrine in lodging strong opposition to a violation of Brazilian sovereignty.
Under Rio Branco Brazil could stand up to European powers as a hemispheric partner to
14 Joseph Smith, pp. 39-43 for Acre dispute, and Burs, p. 35 for other border negotiations.
15 Joseph Smith, p. 4-5. Smith is careful to note that although French positivism (which often mingles with
realism in IR terms) inspired the coup that exiled the monarchy, the ensuing constitution was modeled more
after the United States. See p. 52 for further approximation to United States. Also see Maria Regina Soares
de Lima, "Brazil's Response to the 'New Regionalism,"' Foreign Policy and Regionalism in the Americas,
Gordon Mace and Jean-Phillipe Th6rien, eds. (London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1996), pp. 137-158, esp.
the United States, although some diplomats worried that Brazil's position was completely
contingent on U.S. support.16
It was during the Rio Branco era that U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt invoked
the "Roosevelt Corollary" of the Monroe Doctrine, in which he justified an intervention
in the Cuba in 1906. "Unlike most of its Spanish-American neighbors, Brazil responded
favorably to the corollary.... The consensus was that Brazil as a large, strong, and
progressing country need fear no foreign intervention and should lend its moral support
to quieting the turbulent smaller nations.""17 Rio Branco viewed Brazil's situation with
Uruguay, Paraguay and the other volatile Spanish American republics in exactly the same
light as the United States viewed its relationship with the island nations of the Caribbean;
he wanted a precedent established that would prevent bloodshed and violence when those
smaller countries elected to act "irresponsibly."18 In Rio Branco's mind (and in the mind
of quite a few Brazilians throughout history), that Brazil was in South America was a
geographic coincidence. Brazil represented order and progress where its Spanish
American neighbors wallowed in chaos "There is nothing more ridiculous and
extravagant than the manifestations of dictators, the pronouncements, the revolutions of
possession of power, the military demagoguery" he said about them once.19
The attitude of partnership with the United States would be characterized by
diffidence as Getulio Vargas (1930-45, 1950-4) dominated the nation from Catete Palace.
16 Joseph Smith, p. 52-3 for close ties with United States, and p. 54 for the Panther incident, also see Burns,
17 Joseph Smith, p. 40, Bums, pp. 150-1 for quotation.
18 See Joseph Smith, p. 40, see Bums, p. 152 for quotation.
19 See Peter H. Smith, Talons of the Eagle: Dynamics of U.S.-Latin American Relations, 2nd ed. (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 99.
Yet Rio Branco set the table that Brazilian diplomats in the Itamaraty would dine from
for almost a century.20
The Vargas Era
When Rio Branco's corpulent frame occupied the Itamaraty, the tradition that he
brought with him was heavily influenced by ideals that were broadly liberal. The baron
emphasized peaceful conflicts settlement, looked to international law to resolve the
numerous border disputes that Brazil faced before he took office, improved important
commercial relationships with the United States based on free trade agreements, and
conducted his office with an eye toward multilateral solutions when they presented
This liberal philosophy of foreign policy that Rio Branco stamped into the
Itamaraty changed a good deal when Getulio Vargas rode a revolution into power in
1930. The gentleman's agreement of cafe cor leite that characterized Brazilian politics
of the Old Republic and allowed for a rotating oligarchy between the states of Minas
Gerais and Sdo Paulo had broken down. The military would not defend the Washington
Luis government (1926-30), and into this void leapt Vargas, the single most influential
Brazilian figure of the twentieth century.21
In contrast to the enlightened and idealistic baron of worldly refinements, Vargas
was a no-frills positivist who took a personalist approach to domestic politics and opened
Brazil's foreign policy up to more populist influences. Especially where foreign policy
was concerned, for Vargas rightness or wrongness were values that dreamers attached to
20 Bums, p. 38.
21 See Skidmore, pp. 3-8.
actions. What mattered most was that Brazil get the maximum benefit from its foreign
policy stance, even if that meant embracing the National Socialists that were in power in
Germany. Brazil had virtually no foreign policy relations with Germany until right after
Hitler took power.22 As the globe was gearing up for another disastrous world war,
Vargas carefully positioned Brazil between the United States and Germany in a gambit of
playing two world powers off against each other, and gain Brazil the maximum possible
advantage. One of Vargas' early forays into this strategy involved negotiating with the
Nazis for assistance in developing Brazil's steel industry.23
When Vargas cautiously steered Brazil toward the Second World War, he did so
with a wary eye northward. Vargas could see that Brazil was in an ideal situation to exact
maximum benefit from the powers of the world, as Brazil had no real stake in the war.
Although the United States made a logical trading partner for Brazil, had a tradition of
friendly relations started by Rio Branco and furnished a healthy thirst for Brazilian
coffee, under Vargas' calculating supervision Brazil was coy to U.S. advances toward a
potential alliance. Vargas was careful to impress on the Itamaraty that the status quo in
the commercial relationship between the United States and Brazil was fine an
overwhelming majority of Brazilian goods entered duty free, Brazil had a favorable trade
balance, and closer ties would not produce any substantive benefit for Brazil. This new
attitude toward the United States occurred to the utter dismay of Foreign Minister
22 See Ricardo Ant6nio Silva Seitenfus. 0 Brasil de Getulio Vargas e a Formagdo dos Blocos: 1930-1942
(SAo Paulo: Companhia Editora Nacional, 1985), pp. 67-9. Also see Joseph Smith, p. 204-5.
23 See Thomas E. Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, 1930-1964: An Experiment in Democracy (London: Oxford
University Press, 1967), p. 45.
Oswaldo Aranha (1938-44), who was previously the Brazilian ambassador to the United
States and favored close ties to the United States in the Rio Branco tradition.24
Under the realistic attitude of the Vargas government, Brazil subtly stepped away
from the "unwritten alliance" forged by Rio Branco to embrace a policy of playing one
world power off against the other during a period of global war. On the economic front, it
hoped that developing military strength would go hand in glove with industrial
development. If it could not avoid becoming a debtor nation to the industrial powers, then
at least it could avoid the dilemma of being beggared by a single country.25
However, in 1942 Vargas eventually sent troops to fight against the very fascists in
Europe he took cues from in Brazil in running his own dictatorship. He did not, however,
switch to the defense of the Allies without extracting a payoff. He secured financial
guarantees from the Roosevelt administration for the development of Brazil's steel
industry by flirting with the Nazis for similar concessions. In a naked gambit of stoking
national jealousies, he all but threatened to negotiate with the Krupp Armaments Firm to
build a foundry at Volta Redonda if the United States did not show some sort of financial
interest. Brazil got a loan of US$20 million in 1941.26 Not long after Brazil entered the
war, Vargas announced that the country would engage in an intense industrialization
drive since, he argued, a country could never be militarily self-sufficient if it did could
not produce materiel within its own borders. He fomented an attitude of economic
nationalism within Brazil while Brazil was supporting a foreign power in a European
24 Stanley Hilton. Brazil and the Great Powers, 1930-1939: The Politics of Trade Rivalry (Austin: The
University of Texas Press, 1975), p. 74-6.
25 See McCann, pp. 2-7.
26 Hilton, 217-9.
war. The token force Vargas sent to Italy nonetheless fought bravely and made important
contacts in the U.S. military which would be indispensable during the military coup
twenty years later. Yet the basis of Brazil's involvement in the war amounted to a
subterfuge for a rapid and opportunistic push for development. At the same time that
Vargas was accepting U.S. economic assistance, he was strengthening Brazilian
nationalism.27 Brazil still avoided economically throwing itself completely into the arms
of the United States. At the same time, it was not above cooperating with the Roosevelt
administration for military, strategic and industrial benefits.
Another effect of the "straddling" strategy under Vargas, especially during his
return as elected president in 1950, was forming solidarity with other developing
countries in the world for the purposes of opposing European hegemony in Africa.
During the early fifties Brazilian foreign policy promoted anticolonialism through the
United Nations. Their polemics were so strident that countries like Belgium attacked
Brazil for its poor record with its indigenous groups. Although Brazil would back away
from this anticolonial policy during the latter half of the fifties, it would not be the last
time that Brazil would act in favor of the independence of an African country from a
The positivist and realist strategies of Vargas, coupled with the foundations laid
down by Rio Branco, supplied a durable framework for Brazilian foreign policy for the
rest of the century. By the latter half of the twentieth century, the Itamaraty eventually
formulated five basic policies as a model for future engagements that are adapted largely
27 Skidmore Politics in Brazil, pp. 44-5.
28 Jos6 H6norio Rodrigues, Brazil andAfrica (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1965), p. 345-61.
from the aggressive policies Rio Branco pursued during his decade as the principal
foreign policy thinker of Brazil. According to Guilhon Albuquerque those five sacred
tenets are: "(1) peaceful conflicts settlement, (2) self determination of nations, (3)
nonintervention in the domestic affairs of third countries, (4) abiding to norms and
principles of international law, and (5) multilateralism."29 There are two other principles
that eventually became unwritten rules of the game for the Itamaraty that have their
origins in the getuliato: developing the domestic economy, avoiding integration into the
U.S. economy, and eschewing any semblance of submissiveness to the United States or
It is important to emphasize that Vargas was not content to make foreign policy the
exclusive domain of elite diplomats. Vargas privately considered members of the
Itamaraty pompous, effete, and out-of-touch with basic Brazilian concerns and the office
suffered a considerable roll-back in importance during the getuliato as Vargas
circumvented the orthodox channels of foreign policymaking, especially during the early
days of the Estado N6vo.31 This propensity to operate outside of the Itamaraty did not
lower the rigors of the office's training or the quality of its diplomats, but it did show
that, especially among some populist politicians, the Itamaraty's recommendations could
be set aside at the pleasure of the executive. In a centralized government proper channels
only exist to the extent that the president is willing to go through them.
29 See Jose Augusto Guilhon Albuquerque, "Brazil, From Dependency Globalization." Latin American and
Caribbean Foreign Policy, Hey, Jeanne A. K. and Mora, Frank 0., eds. (New York.: Rowman & Littlefield
Publishers, Inc., 2003), pp. 267-87, esp. p. 268.
30 Guilhon Albuquerque, p. 268.
31 Hilton, p. 224.
As powerful as Vargas had become and as skillful a ruler as he was as both a
dictator and a president, he was still completely unable to defy the will of Brazil's
military. After all, it was the military who forced Vargas out of office for the purposes of
holding presidential elections. "The manner in which Vargas had departed was all-
important... the dictator was sent from office not by the power of civilian opposition, but
by decision of the Army command... it was an act of stewardship by the generals. As had
been true in the critical moments in October 1930... it was the military, not the
politicians, who were the immediate custodians of power."32 It is also important to
recognize the sorts of political trends that were happening near Brazil. In Argentina, Juan
Per6n (1946-55, 1973-4) had put military brass in Brazil on guard against the dangers of
personalism and labor politics. Vargas' own cult of personality unsettled not a few
officers. Anyone following in his footsteps would have to watch not to run afoul of the
military if he wanted to stay in power, especially if he became associated with
"syndicalism" in an increasingly intense Cold War environment.33
After Vargas apparently shot himself in the wake of a 1954 scandal that erupted
when one of his bodyguards attempted to assassinate longtime Vargas critic Carlos
Lacerda, Brazilian democracy headed for a period marked by uncertainty.34 Juscelino
Kubitschek (1956-61) restored optimism after embarking on the massive construction of
32 See Thomas Skidmore, The Politics of Military Rule in Brazil, 1964-85 (London: Oxford University
Press, 1988), p. 53. What is striking about both the 1967 book Skidmore wrote and this volume is his
descriptions of the intricate workings of what must have been monolithic government machines. It is also
striking to note that even without the benefit of substantial hindsight (he published both books only a few
years after the periods with which they dealt) his books remain obligatory reading for Brazilianists. Also
see Brian Loveman, For la Patria: Politics and the Armed Forces in Latin America (Wilmington, Del.:
Scholarly Resources Inc., 1999), pp. 55-6, for military patria doctrine.
33 See Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, pp. 130-6, for the origins of military friction against a getuliato that was
becoming more associated with labor politics.
34 For a careful description of this controversy, see Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, pp. 136-42.
Brasilia -- a lasting example of Keynesian political economic ideals in practice. A Vargas
disciple from Minas Gerais, Kubitschek is also generally considered a more perfect
version of Vargas he possessed all of the political wizardry without suffering the
divisive rhetoric which occasionally plagued Vargas.35 He was a consensus-builder, and
after he served his presidential term Brazil lacked a politician with his skills to occupy
the new presidential building he had constructed on Brazil's flat interior plains.
Democracy Breaks Down
Guillermo O'Donnell and Philippe Schmitter wrote that in the tremendous
democratic breakdown that occurred in Latin America some forty years ago, none of the
upheavals were an absolute certainty to occur. In the minds of both men, they were the
product of decisions made by key political actors at crucial junctures who had the ability
to save their administrations.36 The military viewed the accession to power of Joao
Goulart (1961-4) broadly as an issue of national security. Goulart was dismissed while
serving as labor minister during Vargas' last presidential term after conservative sectors
of Brazil voiced fears that Goulart was secretly a Marxist.37 When Goulart assumed the
presidency, he did so by a total fluke, the eccentric Jdnio Quadros (1961) stepped down,
apparently in a ploy to return amid public outcry as Charles de Gaulle did in France.
Goulart, Quadros' vice president, was then positioned to take office without being
elected, which substantially reduced his credibility. He was viewed by the military as a
threat to national security because of the close ties he had to organized labor. The
35 Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, pp. 163-74.
36 Guillermo O'Donnell and Phillippe C. Schmitter, Transitions from Authoritarian Rule: Tentative
Conclusions about Uncertain Democracies (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p.
3 Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, pp. 122-7.
Brazilian military viewed Goulart as an extension of the personalism that had made
Vargas (and Per6n) so notorious.38 It was precisely this worry, held chiefly by military
hard-liners, that caused a short-lived parliamentary experiment. This was the first and
only time that a parliament had been tried in a Latin American nation, and it only lasted
for a year in Brazil. As a counterpoint, the Brazilian military's misgivings about
Goulart's politics and his personalist style were so great, and their national security
doctrine was so steeled against what happened with Peronism in Argentina, that they
actually demanded a change in the governmental format to fit the constitution.39 Its vision
of Brazil would not allow for populism, personalism, or communism, but it did demand
an adherence to the legitimacy of the democratic system. That demand for legitimacy did
not end when the military decided to overthrow the government. The softer line of the
military still needed a justification for suspending the democratic process, and they found
that justification in Goulart's actions. After finding a quick end-around the parliamentary
experiment, Goulart then used his extended presidential powers to completely violate the
military's extension of the national security doctrine by issuing statements that it
construed as a sign Goulart would steer the government further leftward.
Was Goulart bound to be overthrown because he was at odds with entrenched
economic interests in the Brazilian congress at the time? Did he actually have a chance to
save his presidential term and avoid the obligatory trip to Uruguay that is so often the
endnote to failed South American democracies? Youssef Cohen argued that Goulart
failed to make the right choices. Cohen explained Goulart's downfall through the
38 Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, p. 208.
39 Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, p. 205.
prisoner's dilemma paradigm and invited his overthrow by swinging leftward. 40
Undoubtedly, Goulart inflamed military sentiments against him. However, it was the
military brass' decision to take him out of the picture. Loveman stands in small company
in striking the balance between Goulart's role and the military's role in Brazil's
democratic meltdown. He also describes the effects that Goulart's domestic stances had
on Brazilian foreign policy at that time:
[When] Goulart flirted with China, Cuba, and "nonalignment" while decreeing
agrarian and social reforms at home, the United States unambiguously favored,
encouraged, and even assisted the coup that toppled his government and installed a
military president... this coup was an important benchmark in Latin American
military politics. Professional officers decided to put an end to populist
demagoguery, repress revolutionary movements, and achieve Brazil's manifest
destiny through direct military rule.41
Goulart could have made decisions that may have spared his term. He was partially
the victim of outside forces beyond his control, such as the United States's support of the
military. Yet ultimately the arbiter of his downfall was the Brazilian military brass, who
felt that Goulart had flaunted their vision of the national security doctrine. "The fact was
that in 1964 the initiative lay with the soldiers, and the politicians knew it."42 In the
minds of those soldiers, they were not destroying the institutions of democracy so much
as they were protecting those same institutions from a recognized threat, "authoritarian
40 Youssef Cohen, Radicals, Reformers and Reactionaries: The Prisoner's Dilemma and the Collapse of
Democracy in Latin America (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1994), p. 78, 87-90. It is
important to note that Cohen barely allots any agency whatsoever to Brazil's military, which had the final
say in Brazilian politics during this period as previous paragraphs have noted.
41 See Loveman, p. 186.
42 Skidmore, Politics in Brazil, p. 306.
practices could be reconciled with the 'democratic ideals' of the 1964 revolution,
according to military thinking."43
The Military Era
After Goulart's overthrow in 1964, the military built a new regime on top of the old
Brazilian democracy. The post-Vargas presidents were the first to be taken out of the
picture Goulart, Kubitschek, and Quadros all lost their political rights, a stunning blow
for Kubitschek since he was hoping to return to the Planalto Palace as president to the
capital city he so famously built.44 The military also swept aside the party system that
Vargas had nurtured as part of his corporatist state, and replaced those parties with a
government party and an official opposition a party (which Brazilians quickly took to
calling sim and sim senhor). Elections were still held, but in a neutered sort of way,
civilian politicians leftover from the Goulart days were eventually "purged," and the little
opposition that existed to the military's policies during the sixties was fragmented and
As the Brazilian military consolidated its dictatorship during the sixties it made two
foreign policy objectives top priorities for the new regime: national security and
economic development. These goals were not anything new in Brazil. Brazilians always
looked with a wary eye across the Rio de la Plata as the Argentines harbored hegemonic
designs of their own, and grandiose city-construction programs and industrial
43 See Luciano Martins, "The 'Liberalization' of Authoritarian Rule in Brazil," Transitions from
Authoritarian Rule: Latin America, Guillermo O'Donnell, Phillippe C. Schmitter, Phillippe C., and
Laurence Whitehead, eds. (Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), pp. 72-94. See p.
77 for quote.
44 Skidmore Politics in Brazil, p. 309.
45 Skidmore Politics in Brazil, p. 320.
development drives had been elements of previous administrations. Yet under the
military dictatorship they took on a different emphasis and headed in new directions. In
the first place, both of these principles fed directly into Brazilian nationalism and the
long-held vision ofgrandeza national, which was expedient for the military in
consolidating its regime. For the military, economic development and national security
intertwined. Not only was it necessary in the eyes of Brazilian policymakers, but it
provided the government with an expedient justification for the regime. The sixties and
seventies witnessed a professional public relations campaign emphasizing nationalism as
the military established the Special Advisory Staff on Public Relations (AERP).46 The
AERP tried to maneuver the government into a positive light in Brazil despite the
repressive activities of the most brutal of the military dictators, Emilio Garrastazu Medici
(1969-74). The Medici years saw the exile of such luminaries as Caetano Veloso,
Gilberto Gil, and other prominent musicians and artists. The regime saw it fit to censor
both the film and newspaper industries. Political messages in newspapers ended up being
encrypted in recipes that ran on the front pages of major metropolitan dailies. Medici also
crushed the activities of guerrilla revolutionaries, who had organized into cells but were
plagued by in-fighting, often became distracted by short-term gains, and were esoteric to
the point of completely mystifying the public they were trying to woo to their cause. The
Brazilian public largely ignored the kidnapping of a U.S. ambassador.47
For the initial popularity of the military, it also did not hurt that the economy was
taking off. The so-called "Brazilian miracle" that occurred from 1969 to 1973 was a
46 Skidmore, Politics of Military Rule, pp. 110-1.
47 Skidmore Politics of Military Rule, pp. 117-24.
period of rapid economic growth made Brazil one of the ten largest economies in the
world and fired the long-smoldering elite dream of international greatness. This period
also stoked the jealousies of Brazil's neighbors in the Southern Cone (most notably
Argentina) who saw Brazilian imperialism as surging threat.48 Economically speaking,
Brazil was leaving Argentina in the dust. By 1980, Brazil's gross domestic product was
US$229 billion versus US$62.6 in Argentina (although Brazil's per capital domestic
product lagged behind Argentina by a small margin), and its exports almost doubled
Argentine exports. To the glee of Brazilian diplomats and the dismay of their Argentine
counterparts, the United States began looking at Brazil as its defacto representative of
Yet the Brazilian military resorted to the Vargas example during the Second World
War as a template for dealing with its neighbor to the north during the height of the Cold
War. The Brazilian military's recognition of an independent Angola, for example, was a
gesture of autonomy. It represented a cunning effort to build upon cultural and linguistic
similarities to solve an economic crisis: Angola is a country rich in oil and as an
independent government could be shopping for giant countries of Brazil's size to whom
they could sell that oil. Brazil had cautiously courted Angola for its Cabinda oil even
during the time when it was still a Portuguese colony. There were political realities that
Brazil chose to ignore in recognizing Angolan independence; just because it recognized a
Marxist government did not mean that it embraced by any means a Marxist program.
48 See Shiguenoli Miyamoto, "A Politica de Defesa Brasileira e a Seguranqa Regional," Contexto
International, Vol. 22, No. 2 (julho/dezembro, 2000). pp. 431-472, esp. 440-1.
49 See Wayne Selcher, "Brazilian-Argentine Relations in the 1980s: From Wary Rivalry to Friendly
Competition" Journal oflnteramerican Studies and World, 11 no, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Summer, 1985). pp. 25-
53. esp. 25-30.
However, it did mean that when given the opportunity, Brazilian foreign policymakers
were capable of setting the country on a path of its own. In recognizing an independent
Angola, they were making a diplomatic statement of their own autonomy.50
As the eighties approached, this autonomy from the United States became more
pronounced in Brazilian foreign policy. During the Jimmy Carter administration (1976-
80), the government of Ernesto Geisel (1974-9) cancelled a 25-year-old military
assistance agreement after the United States placed human rights conditions on its
assistance. Brazil considered the move an "audit" of their political system and backed out
in order underscore its autonomy in the Americas.51 Along the same lines, Brazil also
endured attacks by the United States when it cast a vote against Israel in the United
Nations in 1974 in order to court oil-rich Arab countries, and also defied the U.S. in
deciding not to sign the nuclear non-proliferation agreement.
As its economic miracle came to a close, Brazil looked to foreign policy options
that still satisfied a psychological desire for autonomy without being reckless or inviting
U.S. military intervention. It looked to straddle a fine line between being independent and
responsible. Brazil's foreign policy stance also went from being characterized as "Brazil
the great power" as it was under Medici, to "Brazil the emerging power" under Geisel. In
mapping out its role in the Americas, Brazilian policymakers adopted a diplomatic
strategy characterized as "responsible pragmatism."52
50 See Jos6 Fldvio Sombra Saraiva, "Um Momento Especial nas Relaq6es Brasil-Angola: Do
Reconhecimento da Independencia aos Desdobramentos Atuais," Angola e Brasil nas Rotas do Atldntico
Sul (Rio de Janeiro: Bertrand Brasil, 1999), pp. 225-252, esp. p. 243.
51 Selcher, The National Security Doctrine, pp. 1-2.
52 Miyamoto, p. 442.
This responsible pragmatism gradually characterized a new focus in Brazilian
foreign policy that reluctantly recognized the limitations of Brazilian designs on being a
great power. Policymakers arrived at this strategy by default more than anything else.
When Brazil had the capability to make itself an important player on the world stage
(acquire nuclear technology, secure oil reserves, industrialize) then it would, but if Brazil
was at a disadvantage in the game of international prestige, then it would make the best
deal that it could at the time in the hopes to improve its position sometime in the
indeterminate future. Tomaz Guedes da Costa described this as a strategy of "pacing and
hedging" acting deliberately and carefully to obtain long-term policy objectives, and in
one form or another it governed Brazilian foreign policy into the present:
Brazil prefers to move gradually and with caution in expanding regional
cooperation in order to gain time to establish a general sense of unity and direction
for the country and its neighbors in the international arena. At the same time, Brazil
must hedge its strategy against possible negative effects in the future. All this while
the nation copes with difficult adjustments in its internal politics, tries to increase
its capacity to promote its interests abroad, and works to improve its relations
abroad and to secure cooperation that is lasting and stable within the turbulent
process of globalization.53
At the end of the military dictatorship in an uncertain economic climate and an
uncertain political sphere with the Cold War nearing its end, Brazil looked to a future that
would emphasize multilateralism. If Brazil's dream of great power status could not be
realized by going it alone, then perhaps a return to the Rio Branco tradition could offer a
better alternative. If Brazil could not be in a position for maximum gain, then at least it
could buttress its future from maximum loss.
53 Thomaz Guedes da Costa, Brazil in the New Decade: Searching for a Future (Washington, D.C.: Center
for Strategic and International Studies, 2001), p. 93.
Argentina, Civilian Foreign Policy, and Mercosul
Of the countries of the Southern Cone, Brazil had the longest transition from
military rule. Consensus between the civilian and military sectors has been easier to reach
in Brazil, and foreign policy decisions since the mid-seventies have been less prone to
extremism than in Argentina.54 One can understand a good deal about the eventual
fortunes of each country in the inter-American system by looking at how each country's
military made the transition to democracy. In the case of Brazil, the last military
president, Jodo Batista de Oliveira Figuereido (1979-85) was grateful to leave office.55
Even though the poor health of president-elect Tancredo Neves ensured that he would
never sit in the Planalto Palace, Brazil's transition to civilian democracy was a soft
landing by comparison to the other countries of the Southern Cone. If the military in
Brazil lost prestige after the dictatorship, it was not owing to recklessness on their part.
With the obvious exception of brutal repression performed mostly during the Medici
government, Brazilian military objectives, especially in the area of foreign policy, were
still basically Brazilian objectives -increase national prestige and develop the economy.
In contrast, the military in Argentina found themselves in need of a serious jolt in
public relations when they embarked on the ill-advised Falklands-Malvinas War (1982).
If the Argentine military had set its sights on outdoing Brazil and realizing its own
dreams of manifest destiny, those aspirations sank with the General Belgrano.56 The
disastrous Falklands-Malvinas War meant that the Argentine military was completely
54 See M6nica Hirst, "Security Policies, Democratization, and Regional Integration in the Southern Cone,"
International Security & Democracy: Latin America and the Caribbean in the Post-Cold War Era, Jorge I.
Dominguez, ed. (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 1998), pp. 102-118, esp. 103-6.
55 See Skidmore Politics of Military Rule, pp. 257-8.
56 See Gary W. Wynia, i,;.,."',,, Illusions and Realities (London: Holmes and Meier Publishers, 1992),
discredited at home and indefinitely pushed back any Argentine hegemonic designs. For
many Brazilian policymakers, the fact that the military would resort to such recklessness
initially fired several age-old stereotypes that the Brazilian elite had about the turbulent,
disorganized, and volatile nature of Spanish American governments. Any cooperative
ideas were further belayed on the economic front by a wave of protectionism as a result
of the debt crisis of 1982.57 Yet the Brazilian military eventually realized the comparative
advantage it now had over its closest and oldest rival: the war had damaged Argentina's
military capability badly enough that in the foreseeable future, no matter how
irresponsible the government became Argentina could do little to threaten Brazil. The
war's outcome also meant that Argentina realized that if it could not beat its closest rival,
it could join it. Cooperation would be a wiser alternative than competition.58 Conspiracy
theories that the two rival countries shared about one another cooled. The Itamaraty
played an important role during the transition from military rule in Brazil as a mediator
between domestic nationalism (led by the military) and international pressure. In
Argentina the Raul Alfonsin (1983-9) administration and the Jose Sarney administration
(1985-90) in Brazil co-authored a new period of bilateralism between the two countries
where fierce rivalry once existed.59
On the domestic front, the military in Brazil gradually gave up power to make way
for the new civilian government, in contrast with the Argentine military, which ended up
getting unceremoniously drummed out of office. Under the short Fernando Collor de
57 See Lia Valls Pereira, "Toward the Common Market of the South Mercosur's Origins, Evolution and
Challenges," MERCOSUR: Regional I, r, ,, ,. ,, World Markets, Riordan Roett, ed. (London: Lynne
Rienner Publishers, 1999), pp. 7-23 for a good summary of Mercosur's origins.
58 Selcher, "Brazilian-Argentine Relations," pp. 28-32.
59 Miyamoto, p. 449.
Mello (1990-2) administration three changes occurred to ensure military subordination to
civilian authority in Brazil civilian oversight of military technology programs,
adherence to non-proliferation agreements, and consolidation of the military branches
into the oversight of a single civilian defense ministry.60
With the Cold War finished, and the entire region becoming more democratic, like
many Latin American countries in the Southern Cone Brazil began participating in UN
peacekeeping missions. During the period following the Cold War and Latin American
military dictatorships many Latin American governments turned to peacekeeping
missions as a way to accomplish two basic goals first, give a shrinking military that was
once in power something important and tactical to do away from the home country, and
second, keep it sharp should the need for its services arise sometime in a future that was
uncertain, being no longer defined by superpowers.61 Brazil would be much more active
during the decade that followed the Mozambique deployment, as it began to see a
potential scenario for reform of the UN Security Council and a possible addition of Brazil
as a permanent member. This is an idea that had been dormant ever since it was vetoed
from the council following the Second World War.
Even during this period, in which Brazil became active in peacekeeping efforts,
there were still critics within important diplomatic circles that worried about their
implications. Ominously enough, in 1993, when Brazil was debating the logistics of UN
peacekeeping missions in the United Nations, Brazilian Foreign Minister Adhemar G.
60 Hirst, p. 107.
61 See Thomaz Guedes da Costa, "Democratization and International Integration: The Role of the Armed
Forces in Brazil's Grand Strategy," Civil-Military Relations: Building Democracy and Regional Security in
Latin America, Southern Asia, and Central Europe, David Mares, ed. (Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press,
1998), pp. 223-237, esp. p. 234.
Bahadian warned that "bad budgeting and bad cost estimates usually accompany bad
planning. Unhappily, with great frequency, bad planning also brings with it political and
The same time that Brazil was sending troops off to peacekeeping missions (largely
in former Portuguese colonies) Mercosul, which the military government ushered into
existence, was now enjoying an era of cooperation and economic proximity with
Argentina. Some Brazilian scholars recently have gone so far to compare Mercosul's
future role with that of the European Union: "As in the case of the European Union, the
first and most important motivation for the creation of Mercosul has been economic, but
its political consequences have already become notable. Most importantly, Brazil and
Argentina, who saw each other as rivals, have developed a closer political dialogue....
[And] closer cooperation is developing between Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, Paraguay,
along with the associate members, Bolivia and Chile."63 Brazilian officials have already
spoken about Mercosul taking on this new sort of strategic role. Former Foreign Minister
Geraldo Quintdo in 2000 noted that "the idea is to set up bilateral defense agreements
between the Mercosul nations, then the Andean Community nations, and then the rest of
the South American countries, in such a way that Brazil would act as a bridge between
the northern and southern areas of the continent, and make it eventually possible for us to
find, as South Americans, a common ground in the area of defense."64
62 Afonso Jose Cardoso Sena Cardoso, O Brasil nas Operaqges de Paz das Nag5es de Paz das Nag5es
Unidas (Brasilia: Instituto Rio Branco, 1998), p. 145, translation mine.
63 Joao Almino, "Inserqio Internacional de Seguranqa do Brasil: A Perspectiva Diplomitica," Brasil e o
Mundo: Novas Visoes, Cl6vis Brigagio, Domicio Proenqa Jinior, eds. (Rio de Janeiro: Livraria Franciso
Alves Editora, 2002), pp. 27-85, p. 44 translation mine.
64 Almino, p. 44, translation mine.
Part of Brazil's rationale for this new strategic role for Mercosul is to ensure
security and stability along its own borders, stability that was severely strained for
example when Argentina elected to invade a part of what was officially part of the United
Kingdom. There are already precedents for actions within Mercosul member nations in
the resolution of disputes and the promotion of democracy within the region it
effectively stopped a coup d'etat and possibly a civil war in Paraguay, for example.65
Among its most idealistic supporters, in Mercosul Brazil had the potential to dominate a
regional bloc that could one day resemble the European Union in both economic and
strategic style.66 Nonetheless, there are still some critics who note that the economic and
strategic elements of the union will be distinct for the foreseeable future. Brazil and
Argentina still have different military objectives, and "consequently, the processes of
economic integration and defense cooperation each proceed at their own pace, without
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1994-2002) is the Brazilian president with the most
longevity in the era of the "New Republic." Considered before his election as a mild
dependency theorist, Cardoso served as finance minister from 1993-4 and embraced the
neoliberal wave that swept over Latin America during the early nineteen nineties. He
instituted a new currency through the Real Plan that put inflation in check while at the
same time exposed Brazil's industries to the international market. He liberalized the
65 Almino, p. 45, translation mine.
66 Celso Lafer, "Dilemmas and Challenges in Brazil's Foreign Policy," Brazil: Dilemmas and ( li1ll,. ig,.
(Sao Paulo: University of Sao Paulo Press, 2001), pp. 63-71.
67 Da Costa, "Role of Armed Forces," p. 231.
entire Brazilian economy, privatized several concerns that were once the domain of the
public sector (such as Embraer, the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer and a crucial
component of the military's industrial might), and sought to adhere to the rules of
international organizations such as the United Nations.
During the Cardoso administration, the military also abandoned completely its
participation in the domestic political sphere. In sizing up its past when it was in power,
the military appeared to concede that "we took the lead and we got burned. So, let the
civilian politicians take over."68 Starting in 1996, Brazil took a much more active role
under Cardoso than it had before in participating in UN missions in former Portuguese
colonies in Africa and Asia.69
Cardoso's administration may have heavily contributed to the current thinking
behind heading up a UN mission to Haiti. It combined an idealistic and economically
liberal outlook with long-term pragmatism. As Guedes da Costa wrote in 1998:
These international and domestic changes provide a new context for Brazil's
regional policies. Perhaps the most outstanding feature of Brazil's outlook is the
aspiration to mold the country into a consequential actor on the international scene.
This is reflected in the country's desire to participate in the international political
game, globally and in its various regional areas, and in cultural images of the
greatness of the country. As such, Brazilian grand strategy does not reflect the
automatic subordination to he hegemonic power, the passive acceptance of
international regimes, or a willingness to sacrifice future options in exchange for
short-term benefits. These attitudes are seen in the continuing development of
Brazil's national capacity combined with respect for international rules.7
68 See da Costa, "Role of Armed Forces," pp. 224-6. See p. 225 for quote.
69 Da Costa, "Role of Armed Forces," p. 232.
70 Da Costa, "Role of Armed Forces," p. 229.
The Lula Administration
In support of his presidential campaign, the foreign policy of Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva (2003-present) differed from that of its predecessors in that it was an activist
foreign policy not unlike that of such populist Latin American presidents as Luis
Echeverria (1976-82) in Mexico. Although it continues the Cardoso tradition of
participation in UN missions, there is an unmistakable tone of Third World solidarity that
comes across in speeches given by Lula and Celso Amorim, his Foreign Minister.7 Some
analysts, such as Riordan Roett, view Lula's message of solidarity with the Third World
as a signal that Brazil is ready to lead the challenge to U.S. hegemony in Latin America
and beyond.72 Roett put this attitude in context in a January 2006 edition of The Latin
...the Brazilian government sees its role in Haiti as part of a larger effort to expand
Brazil's role in the international system. The strong interest now on hold to
occupy a Latin American Security Council seat at the United Nations is another
indication of Brazil's interest in playing a great role in world diplomacy. There are
other indications of course, one of which is highly contentious with the US -
Brazil's role as spokesman for the G-20 group of advanced developing countries on
trade and investment issues. The group has become a major player in the WTO
Doha Round. Lula will host Presidents Chavez and Kirchner this week in Brasilia,
which is another indication of Brazil's increased interest in South American
affairs... Thus the Haiti assignment is one that the foreign policy leaders have
Just before he was scheduled to take office Lula made a speech at the National
Press Club that outlined some of his plans for Brazil's future. Much of his speech
71 See for example, Luiz Inicio Lula da Silva, "Speech Given at the National Press Club," 10th Dec. 2002,
and Celso Amorim, "Speech Given in Acceptance to the Post of Foreign Minister," 1st Jan. 2003, A Politica
Externa do Brasil (Washington D.C., Instituto de Pesquisas Internacionais, 2003).
72 Also see Candido Mendes, Lula: entire a impacitncia e a esperanga (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Garamond,
2004), pp. 158-160.
73 Riordan Roett, "Featured Q & A" Inter-American Dialogue: Latin America Advisor, 18th Jan. 2006.
concentrated on issues of foreign policy he would confront during his term, and he made
sure to speak about the potential reform of the UN Security Council. "The UN Security
Council, especially, should be reformed to maintain and augment its legitimacy. It makes
no sense that among its permanent members, there are no representatives from South
America or Africa. You can be sure that, in the case of a reform, Brazil will be ready to
assume new responsibilities."74 Another speech given in Brasilia by Amorim as Lula was
inaugurated echoed those sentiments on the Security Council, adding that Brazil was
ready to forge alliances with similarly large nations of the developing world, including
Mexico, India, and China. Amorim also stressed the close ties that Brazil had built with
Argentina in Mercosul, and emphasized Lula's continued support for the economic
union.5 Both of these public figures used language that could have been lifted from
Guilhon Albuquerque's work on Brazilian foreign policy. They both took special care to
mention the importance of peaceful conflicts settlement, sovereignty (self determination
of nations), non-intervention, abiding to international law, and depicted Brazil as a
Given this tradition of internationalism, it is easy to see Brazil's interest in ongoing
activities with the United Nations Security Council. The Haitian mission represents one
of Brazil's boldest foreign policy moves in trying to secure greater international prestige
within the framework of the United Nations.
74 Lula, "Speech," p. 17.
75 Amorim "Speech," pp. 54-9.
THE MISSION IN ITS FIRST YEAR
Since the Brazilian mission to Haiti is a relatively new phenomenon, and the cycle
of scholarly work tends to allow for objective distance to gather before analyzing an
issue, I elected to sift through periodicals to produce the empirical portion of this thesis.
The documents read for the passage below came from the newspaper clippings section of
the library attached to the Senate in Brasilia. The librarians working that section read
about a dozen Brazilian newspapers daily, and file clippings based on thematic relevance.
So for this section of the paper, I will draw on the pasta that I acquired in that library
starting with articles written in May 2004 and working forward until July 2005. Those
dates roughly correspond to the first year that Brazil headed up the mission to Haiti.
Although the mission is going on as I write this thesis, separating and viewing a single
block of time makes analyzing the mission a manageable enterprise. Also, July 2005 is a
logical cut-off point for the mission to Haiti. The original general who started off
commanding the mission had tendered his resignation by that point, and the third wave of
troops had shown up to relieve the second wave (soldiers rotate in six-month shifts).
In writing what the Brazilian periodicals wrote at the time, I want to provide the
reader with an accurate, complete and concise picture of what happened during the
mission. For the most part, the articles I read for this study are described chronologically.
There were times, however, where it made more sense for them to be grouped
thematically as different streams of events unfolded. In terms of citations, I listed the full
name of the newspaper first, then the page number if it appeared on the document, then
the date. For subsequent citations after that I simply listed the abbreviated name of the
newspaper. All of the translations as they appear below are mine.
The Mission to Haiti: The Honeymoon
On 12th May 2004, the Folha de Sdo Paulo reported that seven-hundred and fifty
Brazilian soldiers were set to ship out for Haiti from Rio with a caravan of fifty-eight
jeeps and twelve tanks. Most of the men were members of Rio Grande do Sul's 19th
Battalion, an army battalion originally formed to combat insurgents during Brazil's
Revolu do Farroupilha, or Revolution of the Ragamuffins that took place in the region
from 1835-1845. Internationally, the same battalion saw action in 2002 during a UN
mission in East Timor. Lt. Col. Ezequiel Izaias de Macedo told Folha in an interview that
"I bring in my suitcase the hope of establishing order in this country."1
Correio Braziliense asked Brig. Gen. Americo Salvador de Oliveira if Brazil would
be better received in Haiti, since the Americans are poorly received almost everywhere
they go. "Our contact with the Haitians couldn't be better," Salvador de Oliveira told the
newspaper.2 In a subsequent edition of Folha, an article appeared that included the
following description of the Haitian capital: "[it's a] capital typical of a poor country,
with streets that are dangerous and dirty, with improvised alleys and one or two nice
houses. The avenues are dominated by vendors who sell a little of everything: fruits,
vegetables, old tires, etc. Transportation is disorganized; the services, slow." The
1 Folha de Sao Paulo, p. All, 12th May, 04.
2 Correio Braziliense, p. 20, 21st May, 04
population, it continued, is predominantly "black, young, and unemployed: young people
are all over the place, loitering on street corners."3
On 1st June, 2004, the Brazilian military arrived in Haiti to take over for the U.S.
soldiers who were there already. Three weeks later, UN soldiers assumed total control of
peacekeeping operations in Haiti in the midst of unrest. Supporters of the ousted Aristide
government were committing robberies and burning cars.4 Ominously, Brazilian troops
encountered Dr. Gilson Girotto of Sao Paolo state, who worked in Haiti as a medic. He
told them "You have no idea the kind of poverty that you're going to encounter here."5
Yet reaction to the arrival of Brazilian troops was initially positive. Haitian Prime
Minister Gerard Latortue said at a news conference that "for us, Brazil is a brother
country, we don't want the Americans or the French [troops]."6
During the summer of 2004, the Brazilian newspapers concentrated on statements
made by politicians and a soccer game involving the Haitian national team and the
tles, i'I national. Much of the initial press on the mission concentrated on three basic
themes: 1) the implications that it would have on the possible permanent seat on the UN
Security Council, 2) the worry that Brazil could be walking into a role as a pawn of the
3 Folha, p. A12, 29th May, 04.
4 Journal do Brasil, p. A12, 25th June, 04.
5 Folha, p. A10: 31st May, 05.
6 Correio, p. 23, 30th May, 04).
United States, 3) Brazil's responsibility as a hemispheric peacekeeper. Whether those
ideas were planted by Brazilian politicians and given undue attention by the Brazilian
press or whether they were actually operative concepts in play during the mission is
arguable. Regardless of the reasons why, it is interesting to note that those time-honored
concepts still found play in the public eye during the run-up to the mission. "If someone
wants to use Brazil as a pawn, they are making a big mistake," Amorim said in a news
conference. Brazil, he noted, had demonstrated independence from the United States, and
"our idea in participating [in the mission] always was conditioned, from the point of view
of foreign policy, by the conviction that active participation by Brazil would give us more
moral authority to influence the UN."7 "Peace and democracy are conquests that Latin
American governments should take pride in," Lula said in a news conference in Brazil.8
The Haitian mission got an uptick in international attention when a decidedly
different section of the press descended on Haiti to witness the so-called "Game of
Peace" that the Brazilian national soccer team played against a Haitian squad that was
lucky to still exist in the first place. This was a strange aspect of the mission; Brazil's
most famous export is its fine soccer team, its squad has won more World Cup
championships than any other national team (five) and Brazil's brightest stars lead a jet-
set life playing in premierships across Europe. However, in Latin America soccer tends to
be a sport that takes on an almost religious fervor. Brazil would almost certainly crush a
ragtag Haitian side, and that would breed questionable sentiments for a country that was
7 Gazeta Mercantil, 13th May, 04.
8 Valor Econ6mico, 1st June, 04.
hoping to keep the peace in Latin America's poorest country. A more important element
of the soccer game was an arms-for-tickets ploy, one that could yield serious benefits if
successful. Haitians would trade guns for entry into Sylvio Cator Stadium to watch the
game.9 However, that idea instantly ran aground just a few days before the game was set
to take place in August. For one thing, officials quickly realized that in essence they were
penalizing the most innocent elements of Haitian society the ones who did not happen
to own firearms. They also realized that they were inviting a potentially violent element
to the game that would almost certainly cause trouble after being crammed in a 15,000-
person soccer stadium.10 The game eventually came off as planned (although without
reaping the desired load of firearms that organizers had hoped for) and Ronaldo and Co.
As the summer wore on and the craques returned to posh clubs in various European
clubs, articles in the Brazilian press began to focus less and less on goodwill gestures,
handshaking, and comments made during news conferences, and focused more and more
on the daunting prospect that the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti
(Minustah) had before it. In the first place, reports were starting to cross Brazilian
newswires that Minustah was suffering setbacks. More than a month after Brazil arrived
in Haiti, Folha was reporting that police were demoralized, not one region controlled by
rebels had been recovered and not one prisoner had been taken. Troops were becoming
9 Folha, 10th July, 04.
10 Jornal p. A9, 19th Aug., 04.
frustrated because they had trouble adjusting to a poorly defined role that may or may not
have included police powers.11 A July edition of Estado de Sao Paulo noted that
Brazilian troops were encountering "serious danger," and noted that more than twenty-
five thousand Haitians were armed. Rebels there were in abundance in Haiti, and they
were dispersed all over the political spectrum the right and left, supporters of Aristide
and Aristide's opponents.12 A Folha reporter opined a week later that "in Haiti, Brazil is
embarking on one of the most delicate tasks of foreign policy: nation-building... The
international community doesn't have a good track record in tasks of this sort."13 The
journalist noted that the Balkans still existed as a stark reminder of the pitfalls that
international peacekeeping missions could encounter, but mentioned that Brazil's recent
activities in East Timor had been successful.
Brazilian newspapers remained relatively quiet on the mission to Haiti until early
September, when ex-soldiers that Aristide cashiered during his second term began
assaulting Haitian police. Aristide had disbanded the Haitian military as a hedge against
another coup attempt. To his dismay he found in February 2004 that without an army to
command he was virtually powerless to stop the rebellion that eventually overthrew him.
Led by former Sgt. Ravix Remissainthe, the soldiers that he cashiered were violently
protesting in favor of reorganizing the military, already had occupied the city of Petit
1 Folha, 10h July, 04.
12 Estado de Sao Paulo, p. A16, 11 h July, 04.
13 Folha, p. A20, 18th July, 04.
Goave for three days, and were attempting to capture the interior city of Grand Goave.14
The problems in the interior of the country supplied a further distraction for a Brazilian
military that already was spread too thin and had enough trouble keeping the peace in
Another disaster swept over the country that no armed force of any size could do
anything about. In late September, Tropical Storm Jeanne slammed into Haiti, dousing
the northern half of the island with floods. Latortue declared a state of emergency and
initial estimates surpassed five hundred dead. One of the three most important cities,
Gonaives, was destroyed almost completely. The damage was so bad that Brazilian
soldiers had to airlift a metric ton of food and medicine to the submerged city by
helicopter.15 Two days later, Brazilian military officials were estimating the death toll had
climbed to more than 1,800 people. The damage caused by Jeanne had not only made a
bad situation worse, but it woke the military and the press to the challenges that such a
peacekeeping mission in a war-torn country like Haiti entailed. Gen. Augusto Heleno
Ribeiro Pereira, the leader of Minustah at that time, lashed out at the UN. "After two or
three weeks... we realized that we don't have sufficient personnel to face this situation,"
he told the Correio Braziliense on 20th September 2004. In the wake of the tropical storm,
ex-soldiers under Aristide who were now rebels had taken control of several government
buildings in the countryside. Ribeiro Pereira warned that the 2,800 soldiers under his
command were insufficient to confront the insurgents, and were also a mere 40 percent of
14 O Globo, p. 38, 3rd Sept., 04.
15 Correio, p. 18, 21st Sept., 04.
what the UN had promised he would have. He also mentioned to Correio a facet of the
mission that would become a more pressing concern as time went on overlap was
developing between Minustah soldiers and the National Haitian Police (PNH), which was
still functioning as a wing of the interim government. Each party felt obliged to perform
the functions of the other, and the line between them was becoming blurry.16
If the situation in Haiti had been uncomfortable for Brazilian soldiers during the
initial period of the mission, when soccer games and presidential visits dominated the
headlines of Brazilian newspapers, Jeanne had made the situation far worse. If the
Brazilian military brass was quiet about the problems that Minustah had experienced up
until the storm, then they were angrily vocal afterward. Jeanne either exposed or created
another debilitating problem for the mission that would become painfully apparent for the
Brazilian military in a few short weeks. The mission was already at a little more than
one-third strength to begin with, and Jeanne caused damage in the northern section of the
country away from Port-Au-Prince. With soldiers having to attend to the effects of a
flood in Gonaives, a "wave of violence" erupted in Port-Au-Prince on Sept. 30, 2004 that
immediately took the soldiers by surprise and lasted the better part of October. This
would be the first of a long string of violent insurgencies that gripped Haiti after the
Brazilians arrived. As roughly 3,000 pro-Aristide protesters gathered in Port-Au-Prince,
gunfire rang out as Brazilian troops exchanged shots with armed thugs who had mixed in
with the crowd.17
16 Correio, p. 18, 21st Sept., 04.
1 Journal, p. A9, 5th Oct., 04.
Not only were the Brazilian troops having difficulty differentiating their
responsibilities from the PNH's duties, but they were grappling with another uncertainty
common in peacekeeping missions: they were having trouble figuring out who their
enemies were. It is fair to say that some of the resistance the military encountered were
simply Haitian civilians who supported Aristide, or Haitians who did not take a political
position of any kind. As time wore on, however, newspapers began to pick up on a trend
that continued as the scene in Haiti became more violent the increasing notoriety of
"irregulars." Armed thugs began to mix with crowds of protesters. Some of them
appeared to be simply gang members who had access to automatic weapons bought
through the Colombian drug trade, a trade that made Haiti a transshipment point en route
to the United States. There was another group that could have been linked to the drug
trade, the Resistance Front led by Guy Phillipe which was responsible for Aristide's
exile. There was also the problem of the old Haitian Armed Forces. Estimated at around
2,000 men and led by Ravix Remissainthe and Joseph Jean-Baptiste, they were drawn
largely from Aristide's radical opposition. The deposed Haitian ruler disbanded the army
upon his return in 1994 to stymie any further possibility of a coup attempt. Insurgents
with possible links to both the drug trade and Aristide also reared their head the
chimeres. 8 These were paramilitary soldiers estimated at around 4,000 men with ties to
Lavalas who Aristide allegedly used while in power to crush his opposition, in a fashion
18 Folha, p. A16, 16th Oct., 04.
similar to how the Duvaliers employed the tontons macoute.19 All of these "irregulars"
would test the mettle of the undermanned Brazilian peacekeeping force.
The violence that erupted in Haiti could have been calculated to coincide with the
dramatic effects of a tropical storm. It also could have been orchestrated to commemorate
the tenth anniversary of Aristide's return to the Haitian presidency (the Clinton
administration reinstalled him on Oct. 15, 1994). Brazilian newspapers were speculating
that the newly invigorated Haitian resistance was responding to this date more than
anything else. On Oct. 15, 2004, Aristide lashed out at France and the United States from
his exiled secret home of Pretoria, South Africa, to tell the international press that both
countries were complicit in forcing the former Haitian president into exile. In a different
article on the same page of Folha, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told
reporters that the UN needed to act with a greater sense of urgency in dealing with the
Haitian mission. "It's going to be difficult to improve this situation," he said. Amorim
was soliciting U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's help in expediting financial
guarantees totaling US$1.2 billion earmarked for Haitian reconstruction. That money,
which would come from UN members, was mired in the organization's institutional
bureaucracy, and it appeared that it would take two years to come through.20 One
Brazilian official, sent to Paris to plead the case for expedited release of funds, was
quoted as saying "In two years, there won't be a Haiti!"21
19 Folha, p. A16, 14th April, 05.
20 Folha, p. A15, 15th Oct., 04.
21 Globo, 17th Nov., 04.
Disappointment in the Brazilian Press
As if on cue, it was right at this time that members of the Brazilian press began to
ask stem questions about why exactly Brazil had elected to take on the mission in the first
place. "What started out as an idea conceived to prove Brazil's worthiness for a UN
Security Council seat has already turned into a problem, and is now threatening to
become a disaster," columnist Dora Kramer wrote in Estado. Initially Brazil undertook
the mission to promote nationalism at home while obtaining the necessary political
capital abroad to improve its chances with the Security Council. The Security Council
scenario, she noted, was a pie-in-the-sky affair that suffered tremendous setbacks when it
became apparent that countries would be reticent to bring the mission up to full strength.
"Translation: Brazil is practically alone in Haiti... and soldiers are dying in a conflict
Brazil not only has nothing to do with, but little it can do about."22 Dour recent events in
Haiti buttressed Kramer's dire assessment. A week before her column ran, the Itamaraty
secretly sent two diplomats to assess the situation and secure certain guarantees from
Latortue concerning the activities of some armed groups in Haiti. Latortue told them he
had no control over the situation.23 Problems were beginning to emerge that remained
beneath the surface during an initial period of self-congratulations and cursory goodwill.
Brazil's role in Haiti was also being questioned in terms of its relationship with the
United States. Critics who persistently complained that Brazil's participation in the
mission played right into the hands of U.S. interests intensified their polemics. "Like it or
22 Estado, p. A6, Oct. 17th, 04.
23 Estado, p. A6, Oct. 17th, 04.
not, Brazil has become in Haiti the defender of U.S. interests in the Caribbean," an
anonymous soldier told Estado. "We know about as much about the future of Haiti as the
United States knows about the future of Iraq," he said.24 Considering the negative
attitudes in Brazil concerning the U.S. occupation of Iraq, the statement was hardly an
endorsement of Brazilian actions in the Caribbean island nation. During a three-week
stay in Haiti during late October, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told reporters that the
success of the mission in Haiti had become a "question of honor," and added that Brazil
would not allow the United States to take over reconstruction efforts. "We have to
assume the problems of our region and 'Latinamericanize' Haiti," he said. The
reconstruction of Haiti, he noted, would not be a project that Brazil would leave for the
United States to see through. It would be a Brazilian undertaking.
November would prove an even more difficult month for the Brazilian military
than October. On Nov. 18th, Folha reported that thugs kidnapped the owner of
Petionville's Hotel Montana, where Gen. Ribeiro Pereira was staying at the time. The
hotel was located in what was supposedly the safest part of Haiti.25 Amid charges that
Viegas, the defense minister, mismanaged the mission and could not coordinate the three
branches of the military effectively, Lula replaced him with Jose Alencar on Nov. 4,
2004.26 Shortly afterward, Brazilian diplomats told reporters that Brazil could stay a year
24 Estado, p. A32: 24th Oct., 04.
25 Folha, 18th Nov., 04.
26 Globo p. 4, 5t Nov. 04.
longer than the six months it originally envisioned the mission taking. Ominously
enough, a soldier told Estado that Haitians were beginning to view the Brazilians as just
another occupying force. The once warm embrace that the Haitians gave the Brazilian
soldiers had hardened into a cold shoulder.27
The same day, O Globo wrote that the Brazilian mission found itself at a
crossroads. Without expected financial resources and military commitments from the
United Nations, "this could turn into a nightmare for the Itamaraty."28 The benefits that
the foreign policy corps hoped that it could reap from the mission were now being
viewed as the main problem in securing full multilateral involvement: no country wants
to endure the risks of a foreign mission, one soldier told the newspaper, if they are not
confident that they can share in the benefits.29 Later that week, another wave of violence
claimed the lives of twelve Haitians, and a Brazilian soldier had to be airlifted to Santo
Domingo after contracting malaria.30
The Debate Heats Up
As the mission wore into 2005, two strains of debate began to emerge from
observers of the mission both in Haiti and Brazil. One side hit the Sao Paulo headlines in
late January, when Haitian activist Camille Chalmers upbraided the mission's troops for
27 Estado p. A28, 14th Nov. 04.
28 Globo, p. 42, 14th Nov., 04.
29 Globo, p. 42, 14th Nov., 04.
30 Folha, p. A19, 20th Nov., 04.
living in the lap of luxury compared with the miserably poor people around them, and
being closed to the Haitian communities they were ostensibly trying to protect. The
mission was becoming an obstacle to any sort of future nation-building in Haiti, and there
were no communications between Haitians and soldiers at all, she said. The problems of
security [in Haiti] aren't global, they're occurring in neighborhoods in Port-au-Prince."31
From Chalmers' point of view, the Brazilian troops in Haiti amounted to little more than
an occupation force. They were serving exactly the same function as the U.S. marines
they succeeded and with little tangible benefit.
The other argument concerning the mission surfaced in the same newspaper about a
month later when political scientist and erstwhile Brazilian envoy Ricardo Ant6nio Silva
Seitenfus wrote an editorial that outlined the Brazilian justification for being in Haiti in
the first place. "Haiti is let's be clear and direct economically unviable and politically
impossible, left to its own fortunes. We hope that the international community, under the
inspiration of Latin America and leadership of Brazil, finds a way to reverse the Haitian
picture."32 This is the "Latin American Dream" argument. This line of reasoning
basically stated that a) Haiti is a country that needs complete reconstruction from the
ground up, and b) that a Latin American country is the perfect catalyst for that
reconstruction because of cultural ties. For proponents of this idea, the Brazilian troops
were engaged in an effort that represented something completely new. They were not
merely retreading the efforts of U.S. marines, or serving U.S. interests in the Caribbean,
31 Folha, 27t Jan., 05.
32 Folha, 6th March, 05.
they were engaged in a peacekeeping effort that was the organic product of a Latin
American community of nations. Seitenfus refined the "Latin American Dream" into a
slightly more cynical incarnation as the months wore on in Haiti. The situation in Haiti
was "a complicated case, challenging the capacity of the international system to find
solutions. But it also creates the possibility of constructing a new model of crisis
resolution with the involvement of third-party states without any vested interests in the
conflict," he told Folha in April.33 Seitenfus predicted that there were three possible
outcomes of the peacekeeping mission: 1) Haiti could erupt in civil war, 2) it could
become a dictatorship again, 3) it could become a new sort of political construct a UN
protectorate that would essentially perform a caretaker role that would create just enough
infrastructure for a democratic Haitian government to be created sometime in the future.34
It is important to note as well that underwriting the "Latin American dream" line of
reasoning is the idea that Brazil would eventually attain a greater role within the United
Nations, ostensibly a permanent seat on the UN Security Council.
As these arguments surfaced in the Brazilian press, they appeared interspersed with
dispatches that described a deteriorating situation in Haiti. In late February six armed
men in a white truck stormed into Haiti's largest prison and led a daring prison break.
The assailants shot and killed a guard, and then immediately took aim at the wing of the
prison that housed most of the Aristide supporters in the prison, including ex-premier
Yvon Neptune and ex-interior minister Joseleme Privert, both of whom were accused of
33 Folha, 19th April, 05.
34 Folha, 19th April, 05.
ordering the deaths of fifty people during a protest under Aristide's administration. By
the end of the operation, some five-hundred men 20 percent of the country's prisoners -
- escaped from the National Penitentiary, which sat only 500 meters away from the
National Palace.35 Almost a week later, a large spread published in Folha lamented the
significance of the massive escape. "The country's biggest prison is a symbol of the
institutional failings of the country. Of the 1,257 prisoners, just 14 have been convicted
of crimes."36 There were also indications that minors were in the prison, and parents had
taken to the airwaves pleading with officials for word of their missing children. Neither
Neptune nor Privert had been brought to trial, and several analysts charged they were
simply political prisoners who had run afoul of interim President Gerard Latortue. The
jailbreak also revealed a deepening fissure between Minustah and the PNH. Gen. Ribeiro
Pereira blamed the escape on the collusion of the police guarding the prison. "You can
put the whole American army around the prison, and if the police conspire [with the
prisoners], prisoners will escape," he said.37
Insurgents were becoming more brazen as it became apparent that the prisoners
who escaped from the penitentiary would probably remain at large. Armed gangmembers
wounded three soldiers in a gunfight in the Port-au-Prince slum of Bel Air.38 Haitian
35 Folha, 21st Feb., 05.
36 Folha, p. A24, 27t Feb., 05. Also see the Harvard Law School's published report, "Keeping the Peace in
Haiti? An Assessment of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti Using Compliance as with its
Prescribed Mandate as a Barometer for Success" (Boston: Harvard Law School, 2005), p. 41-2.
7 Folha, p. A24, 27th Feb., 05.
police killed three pro-Aristide protesters in the midst of a massive demonstration
clamoring for his return on the one-year anniversary of his departure .39
The first Minustah casualties died in a shootout on March 20 while attempting to
retake Petit-Goave, which had been occupied by ex-members of the Haitian military that
Aristide disbanded. A day later, ex-military leader Joseph Jean-Baptiste took to the
airwaves and called upon former Haitian soldiers to become guerillas, mingle with the
civilian populace, and "defend" Haitians from Minustah, which he described as an
invasion force, not a peacekeeping effort.40 With Aristide's supporters taking to the
streets to clamor for his return, Aristide's enemies occupying parts of Haiti in his absence
and a fifth of the nation's prison population loose, the Brazilian mission seemed beset
with enemies on all sides. "After eight months (of the mission), Haiti is more insecure
now than ever," an analyst from the non-profit activism group Global Justice told Jornal
do Brasil.41 The organization, along with the Harvard Law School, had just published a
report on the mission that condemned it for doing virtually nothing to foment democracy,
preserve human rights, or improve the situation in Haiti.42 The report also went on to
38 Folha, 28' Feb., 05.
39 Folha, 1st March, 05.
40 Folha, p. A9, Correio, 22nd March, 05.
41 Journal, 23rd March, 05.
42 Folha, p. A21, 20th March, 05.
accuse Minustah of either allowing the PNH to commit human rights abuses in Haiti, or
committing those abuses directly, charges the military brass in Haiti vehemently denied.
The last accusation led Brazilian officials to send a team to Haiti to investigate.43
As the prospect of elections slowly neared, it also became apparent that the factions
in Haiti were becoming murkier all the time. Two Aristide camps appeared an
"extremist" camp that would not participate in the democratic process at all unless
Aristide was allowed to return from South Africa, and a more moderate camp that
supported Aristide but was willing to participate whether he returned or not. Analysts like
Seitenfus viewed this second Aristide group as a crucial ingredient for successful
elections, as the exclusion of his Lavalas party would taint the whole process. Two other
political factions had congealed that were opposed to Aristide. One of them was led by
Remissainthe and Jean-Baptiste, insurgent leaders both tied to the old Haitian military.
Haitian-American industrialist Andy Apaid led the other faction, the so-called Group of
184, a civilian coalition of anti-Aristide political groups and activist organizations.44
There were few positive events for Brazilians during the beginning of 2005.
Foreign Minister Celso Amorim reported that the promised US$1.2 billion promised for
the mission was being expedited from the World Bank and the International Monetary
Fund.45 Brazil also sent a team of military engineers to begin reconstructing roads and
bridges, improving the water and sewer system, and rebuilding schools and hospitals.46 In
43 Globo, p. 26, 25th March, 05.
44 Folha, p. A24: 27th Feb., 05.
45 Folha, p. A10, 13th Jan., 05.
one story, Folha also noted that the Brazilian presence in Haiti allowed certain daily
routines to return to Haitian life. Schools opened again, other public services resumed,
and some Haitians credited the Brazilian troops for these developments. Haitians
occasionally noted that the Brazilians were noticeably better for the country than U.S.
troops, and the story also reported that up until that time Minustah members had not
killed any civilians.47
Yet as the spring trod on in Haiti the outlook continued to deteriorate, especially in
the court of public opinion. A family in the Port-au-Prince slum of Cite Soleil told
reporters that stray bullets from a Minustah rifle killed their son, and that mission troops
attempted to cover it up afterward by removing their son's body from its plot. James
Cavallaro, of Global Justice and the Harvard Law School, gave another damning
interview to Folha in which he slammed Minustah efforts at peacekeeping. "Who's in
power in the country?" he said. "The armed wing of the government, which is the Haitian
Police, and the ex-military." Brazilian troops decided to become the ally with the PNH,
Cavallaro said, and in doing so decided to take the path of least resistance.48 Considering
the track record of violence, abuse, and corruption that the PNH had after all, it either
allowed or encouraged 20 percent of the country's prisoners to escape from its largest
prison in its capital city these were stem charges to make. At frequent junctures the
police seemed much more prone to violence than the soldiers were. They cornered and
46 Correio, p. 22, 13th March, 05.
47 Folha, p. A24, 27th Feb., 05.
48 Folha, p. A21, 20th March, 05.
killed Remissainthe and three of his men in a gunfight in April.49 Only two weeks later
they killed five Aristide supporters during a protest.50 Gen. Ribeiro Pereira immediately
went on the defensive in the face of accusations that Minustah was backing up a thug
police force, stressing that the mission had always acted "independent of any interest in
Accusations leveled against the mission got steadily worse. In mid-April advocacy
group Haitian Women in Solidarity charged that UN troops were patronizing prostitution
rings in Haiti. Most egregiously, they said that in February a group of Pakistani soldiers
raped a mentally disabled 23-year-old woman in a Gonaives banana plantation. In a
defense of dubious merit, the soldiers said that they had sex with the woman because she
was a prostitute. The Brazilian commanders sent the soldiers back to Pakistan and said
they would be tried there. Representatives of Haitian Women in Solidarity voiced deep
concerns that the mission actually was endangering Haitian lives at this point. The
soldiers on the mission "are looking at Haitians as if they were stray dogs," an advocate
told Folha.52 Further reports of abuses by soldiers persisted; an Argentine soldier was
accused of rape in Gonaives, a Brazilian troop was accused of rape in Carrefour, on the
outskirts of Port-au-Prince. In further examples of questionable public relations,
49 Folha, Tribuna do Brasil, 11th April, 05.
50 Folha, 29th April, 05.
51 Folha, 25t March, 05.
52 Folha, p. A16, 14t April, 05.
Minustah characterized both alleged victims as prostitutes. Interim Haitian president
Boniface Alexandre said that rape allegations were being lodged by the enemies of the
If rape accusations were not bad enough, a Haitian sociology professor at the
University of Quebec, Franklin Midy, said that no foreign mission had any chance of ever
reversing the situation in Haiti. "You would have to be ignorant of history to think that a
foreign force could bring democratic stability to the population," he told Folha, "the road
to democracy will be long and hard."54 Most ominously, the mission by springtime nearly
was at full strength there were 6,207 soldiers in May 2005. When Gen. Ribeiro Pereira
requested a 12-month extension that month, representatives from Argentina, Chile and
Uruguay pressured the UN to substitute him for another South American general. Ribeiro
Pereira remained at his command on a tentative basis until a suitable replacement could
The Mission Turns a Year Old
As Brazil's command of the mission hit its one-year anniversary another wave of
violence surged over Port-au-Prince. The PNH revealed that between February and May
350 kidnapping wracked the Haitian capital. The city's streets were peppered constantly
with gunshots. The International Red Cross estimated that about 200 bodies had been left
53 Folha, p. A16, 14h April, 05.
54Folha, p. A15, 11h May, 05.
55 Correio, p. 22, 31st May, 05.
abandoned in the city's streets over the past year. The organization noted that Haitians
were the dual victim of both political violence and common crime, but the line between
the two was getting blurrier with every passing month. In contrast with the first six
months of the mission, in which no soldier died, five died during the first half of 2005.
The United States was becoming impatient with the mission, and had discussed sending
in Marines again for the elections scheduled for November. In what could only have been
demoralizing to the soldiers in Minustah, representatives of the Haitian government
indicated they would welcome the Marines, and that they trusted the "blue-hats" less and
less every day.56
As violence piled up and a third contingent of Brazilian soldiers arrived in June for
its six-month tour, Gen. Ribeiro Pereira asked to be relieved of his command. "I've been
in Haiti a year now, that's time enough," he said. His replacement would take over after
three months. With a wry twist of Brazilian humor, he added that there is no domingo in
Haiti, there is only primeira-feira.57 Pressed by the media about his success in Haiti,
Pereira told Folha that the kidnapping in the capital had been a constant problem, but
tried to put a positive spin on his legacy as the mission commander. "With the exception
of Port-au-Prince, the whole country has been calm for the past five months.""5 Shortly
after he tendered his resignation, the UN Security Council agreed to keep the mission in
Haiti for at least another eight months.59
56 Folha, p. A30, 13th June, 05.
57 Folha, p. A16, 15th of June, 05.
58 Folha, p. A16, 15th June, 05.
None of this augured well for the prospect of elections. By June most people
familiar with the situation in Haiti strongly doubted that the elections would come off as
scheduled. Only about 3 percent of the Haitian populous had even bothered to register to
vote, and with an average of 125 people dying from violence every two months during
Minustah, it was difficult to contemplate holding elections any time soon.60
When the first Brazilian soldiers set foot on Haitian soil in June of 2004, they were
bringing the hopes of Brazilian policymakers along with them that South America's
largest country was ready and able to carry off this sort of operation, and that it could act
as a buffer, a third alternative, between conflict areas of Latin America and the United
States. More than any other Latin country, Haiti was the most frequently visited by U.S.
Marines on interventionist missions in the western hemisphere. If Brazil could succeed
here, it might prove capable of taking on a brand new kind of importance in Latin
America consistent with its geographic and demographic size. The problem, Brazil found,
is that one country cannot simply decide to act multilaterally. It takes many nations to act
in a multilateral mission, and although several countries eventually pitched in enough
soldiers to bring the mission close to full strength at the end of its first year; only 20
percent of the US$1.2 billion promised to the mission was actually disbursed from the
IMF and the World Bank.61 The challenges that a developing country faced in taking on
59 Folha, 22nd June, 05.
60 Folha, p. A30, 12th June, 05.
61 Folha, p. A16, 15th June, 05.
such an ambitious undertaking became apparent during the mission's first year. As a
soldier precisely noted in the text above, it does other developing countries little good to
contribute forces to a foreign mission if they believe that the only country that will get the
credit for being in the trenches in the nation heading it up.
A country with grinding domestic poverty and hairy internal security also has a
difficult time justifying such a mission to its own citizens. Several members of the
Brazilian press attacked Lula's decision to make Brazil the lead country in the mission.
The mission was a problematic concept for many Brazilians who saw poverty and turmoil
just outside their doorstep. Brazilian politicians and columnists were wondering aloud
whether a country with security problems and street crime of its own should be devoting
its resources to an international security concern. Referring to one of Rio's largest and
most notorious shantytowns, PFL deputy Jose Thomaz Non6 told Correio earlier that
"troops that are heading to Haiti for police functions are that many fewer troops that we
could have patrolling Rocinha."62 Ironically, the problems that Brazilian troops were
heading to Haiti to combat and the conditions that they were bracing to face were the
same sorts of problems that exist in Brazil. Opposition from the PSDB, Brazil's social
democrat party, and the PFL, the liberal front party, criticized Lula in both the Senate and
Chamber of Deputies for worrying about the problems of another developing country
when Brazil had security issues of its own. The same opposition also accused Lula of
allowing Brazil to become the pawn of the United States and France in taking over the
Haitian mission, and voiced their disdain for the executive ordering the army to paint its
62 Correio, p. 24, 20th April, 04.
equipment UN blue before the Brazilian Senate approved the mission.63 The naysayer
notwithstanding, the Chamber of Deputies approved the mission a day later, the Senate
approved it after a week by a vote of 38-10.
Even after the famous "Game of Peace" that brought a constellation of soccer stars
to Haiti did little to dispel Brazilian doubts as to what exactly Brazil was supposed to
accomplish in Haiti. As Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva wrote in Politica Externa:
The problem isn't whether Haiti needs help or not. It obviously does. The problem
is deciding, ahead of so many other similar situations in regions of South America,
Portuguese Africa, and Brazil itself, if Brazil should spend part of its scarce
material resources in Haiti and put thousands of soldiers' and civilian lives at risk.64
How could a country with slums, poverty, and violence of its own hope to
straighten out the problems of Latin America's perennial war zone? What exactly are we
supposed to be doing here? they rhetorically asked. This attitude revealed an interesting
facet of the mission that policymakers may not have considered. The United States may
have acted with a more refined sense of purpose in Haiti perhaps because it had interests
that were intertwined with Haitian interests. U.S. marines stepped onto Haitian shores
during periods of turmoil for the simple reason that Washington did not want boat people
landing on the Miami coastline. The more stable Haiti is, the less likely their people are
to attempt to emigrate to the United States, the thinking goes.65 At times this put the
63 Folha, p. A15, 13th May, 04.
64 Carlos Eduardo Lins da Silva, "Futebol, paz e riscos para o Brasil no Haiti," Politica Externa, Vol. 13,
No. 2 (Set./Out./Nov., 2004), pp. 75-85, esp. p. 78.
65 Peter H. Smith, pp. 309-312.
United States firmly on one side or another in Haiti, depending on the context. Chetan
Kumar gave a telling account on the potential pitfalls of peacekeeping efforts in Haiti:
The Haitian experience offers some useful perspectives on peacebuilding activities
conducted by the international community.... In any scenario involving
international attempts to build internal peace, the concept of the international
community's neutrality is highly misleading.... They will make both enemies and
friends....The trick, therefore, it to ensure that the balance is altered in favor of
progress and stability, and not renewed chaos and conflict.66
Although the United States was hardly an objective observer in the Haitian political
milieu, it did signify that U.S. soldiers came to Haiti with a good idea of what they were
supposed to accomplish. In contrast, Brazil appeared to have arrived at Haiti with the idea
that its soldiers would keep opportunistic warlords from disrupting a democracy that
needed peace to get back on track because it was a fellow Latin American nation. The
problem with this thinking, however, is that it eventually became clear that violence was
not the domain of a few armed thugs, and that democracy would have no chance in a
climate of violence. As the mission wore on it became increasingly apparent that
everything was politically motivated. The division between the interim government,
warlords, and civilians became garbled and almost nonexistent. Brazil was finding out in
Haiti that a well-intentioned principle of non-interference and neutrality had an extreme
downside. To put it bluntly, a peacekeeping force that is not allied with anyone ends up
being the enemy of everyone.
Brazil was also learning one of the Catch 22 problems often attributed to the
situation in Haiti the detrimental effects that the lack of any governmental infrastructure
had on nation-building. When would the mission in Haiti be considered successful?
66 Chetan Kumar, Building Peace in Haiti (London.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., 1998), p. 88.
When it was safe enough to hold elections. When would it be safe enough to hold
elections? When the political situation stabilized. When would the political situation
stabilize? After democratic elections... The refrain about Haiti often echoes through the
words of scholars and diplomats on how difficult it is to rebuild a country that has
nothing to begin with. For Brazil to take on a mission of this difficulty is certainly a noble
goal; time will tell if it is a feasible one.
MAKING SENSE OF THE MISSION
The first chapter of this thesis provided background on Brazilian foreign policy as
it has evolved over the years, going from the Imperial era to the present day. The second
chapter offered a synthesis of the Brazilian newspaper accounts of the UN mission during
its first twelve months. This chapter will outline the challenges that Brazil has before it in
terms of foreign policy in the new millennium. It will also go over the situation with the
UN Security Council, and try to determine how to interpret the mission in light of
Brazil's traditions of foreign policy and recent developments with the United Nations.
The mission is the most ambitious foreign mission Brazil has undertaken to date, the first
UN mission Brazil has ever led and the first time Brazil has ever been so close to
obtaining a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Given these facts, the mission
could seem like an act of opportunism that represents a substantial departure in Brazil's
foreign policy traditions. Although I agree with several scholars familiar with the issue
that opportunism was the motivating force that caused Brazil to lead the mission in Haiti,
I argue that this mission is nonetheless largely consistent with longstanding tenets created
and followed by the Itamaraty.
New Challenges for Brazil
As Brazil headed into the new millennium foreign policymakers took stock of the
dilemmas that it faced in the future. First of all, in both a hemispheric and a global sense,
it found itself in an asymmetrical scenario, where the United States was obviously the
sole remaining superpower of the world. In such a situation, Brazilian policymakers
realized that one of the few feasible strategies left that could provide some form of
strategic balance in the world was to strengthen the influence of the UN and push for
reform of the Security Council with the objective of securing a place on it. 1 "These
forums, due to the variable interplay of alliances made possible by a world of undefined
polarities, are the best arena in which to generate power..."2 Here was where Brazilians
thought their rich traditions would serve extremely well. Ever since Rio Branco defined
Brazil's boundaries, Brazilians had always been adept at working through multilateral
channels, and in an uncertain, asymmetrical climate, multilateralism seemed like reliable
option for the future.
While pondering Brazil's new role in the inter-American system, the traditions of
its elite diplomatic corps and the role of its president, it is useful to consider whose
decision it was to lead the mission and why exactly it was made. There is justification for
the Itamaraty to support the Haitian mission, but there are elements of the ministry who
are not so smitten by the dreams of grandeza national. There is a pragmatic element to
the work of some important analysts of Brazilian diplomacy that bear consideration.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida, for example, noted in a recent book that perhaps the Itamaraty
could use a healthy dose of cynicism as it plans Brazil's future. A diplomat himself,
Almeida worried that there were too many "young idealists" who were in the ministry,
and that those idealists were obsessed with responding to a call to a tradition whose
greatness was blown out of proportion. In Almeida's mind, the "Myth of the Baron" is a
1 For example, see Estado, p. A6, Oct. 17t, 04, Riordan Roett, "Featured Q & A" Inter-American
Dialogue: Latin America Advisor, 18th Jan. 2006, and Lins da Silva, pp. 75-85. It is important to emphasize
that few scholars sincerely believe Brazil has a serious chance to become a permanent member on the
council, but the vast majority of them characterize the mission as a tit-for-tat attempt to do so.
2 Lafer, pp. 68-9.
concept that has refused to die in diplomatic circles and should be supplanted by an
outlook which better fits a developing nation.3
Yet there is still reason for optimism in the realm of Brazilian foreign policy,
especially where the UN is concerned. The Itamaraty tends to look at the UN as a conduit
through which Brazil can project and amplify its objectives upon the world stage. For a
country that has a well-established history of relying on the excellent legalistic training of
its diplomats, this makes perfect sense. The structure and pluralistic nature of the UN fit
the Brazilian diplomatic style perfectly. "For Brazil the UN traditionally represents a
privileged forum for affirming the two pillars of its foreign policy: the primacy of
international law and multilateralism."4 For many developing countries, the UN gained
greater importance as a sort of diplomatic anchor in the uncertain period following the
end of the Cold War. Countries began to view security not so much in terms of the
placement of nuclear missiles or atomic submarines, but in terms of what some scholars
have taken to calling "human security" or the freedom from threats closer to home
which could range from an AIDS epidemic to ethnic cleansing. These sorts of threats all
had one thing in common they were usually the domain of countries in the developing
world, and Brazil usually found itself joining up with developing nations for the purposes
of bettering this new challenges. Also during this post-Cold War period, the UN Security
Council expanded its role to include these new problems.5
3 Almeida, Relagoes Internacionais, p. 185-6, translation mine.
4 Valdrie de Campos Mello, "Paz e Seguranca na ONU: A VisAo do Brasil," Brasil e o Mundo: Novas
Visaes, Clovis BrigagAo and Domicio Proenca Jfnior, eds. (Rio de Janeiro: Livraria Francisco Alves,
2002), pp. 163-185, p. 164, translation mine.
5 See Campos Mello, p. 164-8.
Given the new challenges that the United States faces in other parts of the world
after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Brazil sees an opening in the current political climate
in which it can become a much more important player on the international stage. Where
the United States could have been looked at as the arbiter of last resort in the Americas,
perhaps this is a role that Brazil could assume. With the U.S. government looking
eastward more and more, Brazil may be at the doorstep of a more important role in the
The UN Security Council
It is important to note that almost all of the scant literature written on Brazil's UN
mission to Haiti views it as a quidpro quo scenario. Brazil is taking over leadership of
the mission for the express hope realistic or not -- of securing a permanent seat on UN
Security Council should reform come about sometime in the future. Few if any people
currently analyzing the mission seem to believe that Brazil took the mission over for any
other reason. A permanent seat on the UN Security Council would represent for Brazil
the most tangible proof that it has arrived on the international stage as a global player.
For the Itamaraty and Planalto Palace, it would represent a major coup. During the
getuliato Brazil was on the cusp of reaching that long-stated goal and came up short. U.S.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-45) wanted one of the permanent seats to go
to Brazil, but the ploy ultimately backfired after the United Kingdom and Russia
intervened, arguing that the United States was simply trying to stock the council with its
6 Campos Mello, p. 165.
own hemispheric puppets.' This was exactly the sort of thing that was anathema to
Brazil's foreign policy both to be denied a place among the greater nations of the world
and to appear subservient to the United States.
In January 2004, Brazil assumed one of the temporary rotating Security Council
Seats in the United Nations, a position that it held until December 2005. The Brazilian
newspapers immediately pounced on the ambitious issues that Brazil hoped to have some
influence over in the coming months: resolution of the conflict in Israel and Palestine, the
reconstruction of Iraq, and the matter of reforming the UN Security Council to include
new permanent members to sit alongside China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the
United States. The Lula administration also voiced a desire for closer ties to its principal
Mercosul partner, Argentina.8 The Brazilian press did not miss the symbolism that Brazil
was taking Mexico's place as a Latin American member of the Security Council.9 In the
months that followed the Brazilian press offered a list of countries who supported
Brazil's candidacy for a permanent seat giving coverage to the support of any country
who supported Brazil's membership for the council. "Lebanon Supports Brazil for the
UN Security Council," "Portugal Defends the Country for the Security Council Seat,"
and "Ex-UN Secretary also Supports Brazil for the UN" are examples of some of the
headlines that streaked above Brazilian news articles during 2004.10
7 See, for example, Diego Arria's comments in the Inter-American Dialogue: Latin America Advisor, 21st
Sept. 2004, p. 1.
8 Folha, 2nd Jan., 04.
9 Tribuna, 7th Jan., 04.
10 Gazeta, 18th Feb., 04; Valor, 8th Sept., 04; Estado, 23rd Nov., 04, translations mine.
One crucial issue to membership reform in the Security Council was what the
United States thought of it. In September of 2004, the indications looked encouraging,
but were characteristically non-committal. For the most part, U.S. officials said, they
were in favor of reforming the Security Council as Brazilian and U.S. foreign policy
objectives are mostly the same fomenting democracy, economic integration, regional
security and free markets. However, "the sympathy that the Americans have with Brazil
in its new leadership role doesn't translate into their support to the country's greatest
ambition, getting a permanent seat," Estado wrote in September." Later statements made
by U.S. officials emphasized a "wait and see" approach to the possibility of changing the
permanent membership of the council. An anonymous U.S. official told Estado that UN
reform would be a process that would take a long time, and that Brazil's bid for
permanent Security Council membership would die should American president George
W. Bush win reelection. However, the anonymous source did give high marks to the
mission: "Under Lula's administration, Brazil has made some important strides in its
foreign policy that can only be described as historic," the source said. The decision to
take a leadership role in Haiti represented an important change in thinking in Brazilian
foreign policy. The reigning Brazilian school of thought for the past forty years, the
source noted, was that to engage in peacekeeping missions within the hemisphere would
violate two rules sacred to the Itamaraty: non-intervention in another nation's affairs and
non-alignment with the United States.12
" Estado, 21st Sept., 04, translation mine.
12 Estado, 27th Sept., 04, translation mine.
This was another way to look at the current proposed efforts to keep the peace in
Haiti: as a break from tradition. It also highlighted a possible conflict between the
Itamaraty and the Planalto Palace. Even after the mission suffered some of its most
debilitating setbacks during its first year, diplomats in the public eye continued to
maintain that the mission to Haiti was a mission that was an organic product of the
Itamaraty that the office presented to Lula and that Lula agreed to implement the
mission was a collaboration that had its genesis in the Foreign Ministry. Yet other
diplomats began to privately complain from their wood-paneled offices in Brasilia that
the mission represented little more than a publicity stunt, a hastily-contrived effort to
prove that it had a significant foreign policy program and was capable of implementing it.
Should the council reform its permanent membership, Brazil could present a better
case than the other aspirant countries, given its preponderant size in an unrepresented
region. Amorim, the foreign minister, assured the Brazilian press that if there were any
reforms to the Security Council, Brazil would be the first in line for a permanent seat, but
would have to shoulder more financial responsibilities as a result, something Amorim
viewed as a "small price to pay for a say on world affairs."13 That optimism faded a bit
when the United States gave a stronger endorsement to Japan than any of the other
Political analyst Ricardo Seitenfus took a novel angle on the idea of a permanent
seat. Brazil would represent a region that is absent from the Security Council, he noted,
but should not be elected as a representative candidate of Latin America. There are too
many political differences between Brazil and its Spanish American neighbors that would
13 Folha, 25" Sept., 04, translation mine.
prevent it from being able to represent all of Latin America, he wrote. Brazil belongs on
the council more for its strategic position i i/hill Latin America, not as a flagship of Latin
America.14 Those political differences became obvious when representatives of nineteen
Latin American countries comprising the Group of Rio met in its namesake city that
November. The meeting instantly revealed a smoldering rivalry between Brazil and
Mexico, who wanted a permanent seat as well, but favored rotating membership, a
concept that Brazil rejected.15 With the checkered history of the mission, however, and
Brazil's own woes, it is difficult to image Brazil attaining the permanent seat on the
What it Could Mean
Seen through the history of Brazil's foreign policy, the Haitian mission could have
been something in which Brazil would have participated fifty years ago. First of all,
multilateralism has been an important part of Brazilian diplomatic affairs ever since the
Baron of Rio Branco occupied the Itamaraty. As a general rule, Brazil has successfully
managed to trade on the professionalism and legalistic training of its diplomats to
prosecute Brazil's international objectives -- whether those objectives were to neutralize a
rival country or to fix gray national borders. Ever since the Second World War, Brazil
has always been careful to position itself in gradual scenarios that avoid ostentation and
exposure. Seldom do Brazilian diplomats put the country out on a limb for fear that it
could lose the careful economic and strategic gains of the past. Participation in a UN
14 Journal, 8th Oct., 04.
15 Estado, 4th Nov., 04.
mission keeps Brazil in the company of multilateral nations without forcing the country
to go in alone.
The mission could also be a test run for the military. The military noted
continuously in the press that it was eager to take this mission on, and its credibility in the
Brazilian popular conscience has not been restored since the end of the military
dictatorship. Perhaps if it is successful in building democracy in Haiti, while participating
in a multilateral mission and taking orders from civilian authority, the military could win
itself back the credibility it once had.
It could appear that in Haiti Brazil appears to be conducting an intervention, but it
is important to note the exact nature of the situation Brazil inherited in Haiti. Depending
on how its actions are interpreted, the United States had already done the "intervening" in
Haiti, and the Haitian democracy already was reeling from civil war. When Brazil took
the mission over, it did so in part to protect the interim government long enough for
stability to resume and elections to occur. That differs substantially from an intervention.
The five overt tenets of Brazilian foreign policy are preserved in the mission. With
interventionism already discussed, the mission is still a peacekeeping mission (peaceful
conflicts resolution) its purpose is to allow Haitians to elect their future head of state (self
determination), by definition it is enshrined within international law and is a multilateral
It is true that historically Brazil may never have volunteered to lead a mission in
Haiti. The mission may fly in the face of the pacing and hedging concept described in
previous sections of this thesis which has characterized the ministry's actions for so long.
The dreams ofgrandeza national traditionally have been interpreted in such a way that
the Itamaraty has been willing to pursue them one step at a time. There is also the
problem that by taking this mission over, Brazil has once again stoked the idea that it is
actually doing the United States' dirty work for it.16
Would success in this mission mean that Brazil would get its coveted seat?
Probably not. Political analysts continue to be pessimistic about Brazil's chances for
getting on the UN Security Council. As Geoffrey Milton wrote in The Latin American
Advisor Geoffrey Milton wrote "nice idea, however political capital should be spent on
more realistic expectations such as international trade relation. Speculation on the
benefits of permanent membership is just that, speculation,"17 After having to wait sixty
years for the community of nations to consider the second-largest country of the
Americas as a major player on the international stage, Brazil may have to wait longer
still. The tongue-in-cheek joke often credited to Charles de Gaulle that it "is the nation of
the future and always will be" may still be more accurate than fanciful.
It remains to be seen what the outcomes of the mission will be. There is a growing
body of non-governmental reports, magazine articles and newspaper dispatches that
doubt Brazil's ability to restore Haiti to anything like what it was under Aristide, let alone
to a democratic future that could be conceivably brighter. Even after elections occurred it
still remains to be seen what Brazil's future role will be in Haiti, and on what course that
turbulent country will follow with or without Brazil's presence there.
17 Geoffrey Milton, Inter-American Dialogue: Latin American Advisor, 21st Sept., 2004, p. 4.
16 See Lins da Silva, p. 82.
Out of the Age of Uncertainty?
That Brazil elected to involve itself in a peacekeeping mission in a turbulent part of
Latin America should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with its rich history of
foreign relations. Whether its chances are realistic or not, by using the UN as a conduit,
Brazil is working within a relatively cautious framework in a gambit to substantially
increase its prestige. For the Itamaraty, gaining a Security Council seat would be one of
the stops along the way in the long-term game of pacing and hedging.
Yet there have been several causes for pessimism in Haiti, as the second chapter of
this thesis attests. The crux of Brazil's most prominent problem in this sort of
undertaking was perhaps best stated by columnist Gilberto Paim: "If we don't have
money for internal 'peace missions' that would reduce the alarming indices of urban
violence [in Brazil], it wouldn't make sense to assume additional external expenses just
to fill some quota of national pride," he wrote in Jornal do Brasil. For Paim, Brazilian
ambitions for any sort of gain from the mission seemed "infantile, if not absolutely
There is also the problem, articulated by several Brazilians, that in Haiti it could
simply be a pawn of the United States. As Lins da Silva wrote, "the country is already
being looked at, thanks to its presence in Haiti, as an instrument of American foreign
1 Jomal: 6th June, 04.
policy." Several Brazilian analysts worry that rather than representing an arrival for
Brazil, the mission may end up being the first of a line of new strategies by the United
States. Perhaps the United States is simply using the Brazilian mission to mask its own
objectives in Haiti, trading on the goodwill that Haitians have toward the Brazilians.
Maybe in the future the United States will simply solicit other countries like Brazil as
regional "gendarmes" who police trouble spots that were within the U.S. sphere of
influence but are headaches with which the country is no longer willing to deal.2
After being regularly postponed, elections finally came off in Haiti in February
2006, and currently the President-elect of the country is previous president Rene Preval
(1996-2001), who served as prime minister under Aristide from 1991-93 and who was
the first president to leave office in Haiti because his term ended. In a comfortable
election that was nonetheless disputed after observers found ballot boxes in a garbage
dump around Port-Au-Prince, and Brazilian troops pressured the opposition to accept
Preval's victory. With the UN mission inching toward its mandate of restoring democracy
in the conflict-torn country, at this point it appears that there is meager progress, for both
countries. The original turnover that swept Aristide out of office now seems like a
"wasted" revolution, as Preval already has indicated that Aristide is welcome to return to
Haiti if he wishes.3 After more than two years of violence in the wake of Aristide's
departure, an equally violent situation marked by the return of one of his top lieutenants
does not augur well for the future. For Brazil, the elections came at a lull during a large
2 Lins da Silva, p. 82, quotation on same page, translation mine.
3 See The Associated Press, "Preval Says Aristide Can Return to Haiti," 22nd Feb., 06.
period of violence and abuse that revealed some shocking tendencies in the peacekeeping
force it led.4
These problems notwithstanding, what could happen should the situation in Haiti
actually begin to improve? What sorts of benefits could Brazil offer countries like Haiti
in the future, should the mission turn out to be considered a success? It could break a
seemingly endless cycle of failed democracy in Haiti that automatically led to U.S.
intervention. In taking on the mission to Haiti, Brazil has been true to the historical roots
of its foreign policy traditions the mission involves peaceful conflicts settlement and
non-intervention. Brazil also has responded to a desire, long-dormant, of becoming a
more important nation on the international stage. Because of its geographic position, the
size of its population, and the lack of any meaningful conflict along its borders, observers
of the United Nations have continued to throw Brazil's name around when contemplating
the Security Council seat.
Would that be such a bad thing? If Brazil became a regional alternative
peacekeeper to the United States, it could pioneer a new way of settling disputes,
especially in the Western Hemisphere. Brazil has enough political distance from its Latin
American counterparts and enough cultural empathy with them that a Brazilian presence
in trouble spots in the hemisphere could be a welcome change. Haiti, for example, does
not typically send migrants to Brazilian shores; there is no lobby in Brasilia that makes a
political issue out of Haitian interests. This is not a luxury policymakers in Washington
enjoy. The history of U.S. intervention in Haiti is rife with domestic political concerns
4 See "Keeping the Peace in Haiti?" p. 48.
that border on racism and xenophobia. Brazil could be better positioned to act in Haiti
and elsewhere because, to borrow a colloquial expression, it has no dog in that fight.
Certainly there are stern questions that future Brazilian policymakers must ask
themselves as they evaluate future UN missions or other international military actions.
The "Age of Uncertainty" descended into an even more chaotic morass in the period
following 2001, when the United States was forced to address other threats to its national
security. In this new hemispheric system, in prosecuting its UN mission Brazil will have
to ponder the same questions that Carlos Lins da Silva wrote in Brazil's foremost
publication on foreign policy:
It's debatable if Brazil will receive something in exchange for its action in Haiti that
is of any real benefit. Beyond the pleasure of doing a good deed (that perhaps
doesn't even have long-term beneficial results for Haitians) what will Brazil gain?
Support from the United States on becoming a permanent member to the UN
Security Council in some indeterminate future? Act or be seen as a regional power,
capable of intervening in international conflicts, and consequently, develop an
improved role in the world order and obtain advantages in different areas of
business? Get commercial advantages from the United States or preferential
treatment in exchange for maintaining order in the western hemisphere? Position
itself to become a geopolitical alternative to the United States in the Americas and
possibly in the South Atlantic? Gain moral authority to better influence world
affairs? Will some of these objectives be consistent with real necessities and
material conditions of the country at the moment and consistent with Brazil's
The mere possibility that Brazil could secure a Security Council seat has already
been successful enough to incite jealousy from Brazil's largest Latin American rival. It is
interesting to note that of the more than a dozen nations that sent troops to the UN
mission, Mexico is not numbered among them. As former Mexican diplomat Andres
Rozental once fumed in the Inter-American Dialogue: "If Brazil succeeds in getting a
permanent Security Council Seat, without a doubt it would be a loss for Mexico for its
5 Lins da Silva, p. 81, translation mine.
leadership role in Latin America, and another example of how our current foreign policy
objectives lack a place and a purpose."6
There are other benefits that Brazil could garner should it be successful in Haiti.
This could be the perfect way for a former military dictatorship to rehabilitate its military
- by giving it something worthwhile to do away from domestic political scenarios, under
the command of civilian authority and toward a democratic end. This could be the perfect
intersection of purposes between the military and the civilian government.
One interesting example of a possible new epoch in civil-military relations in
Brazil is the military's current relationship with Lula. With an activist foreign policy
tradition that aligns Brazil with other developing nations and a background as a union
organizer, Lula shares a good deal with Jodo Goulart. The principal difference between
the two men, however, is that where the military removed Goulart from office in the mid-
nineteen sixties, it has stayed in the barracks during the Lula administration, even in the
midst of a major corruption scandal.
It also could be that Brazil could find itself easing back into the same role that it
had during the days when it was an unequal partner with the United States. Rio Branco
fancied Brazil as a country distant from the chaos and internecine conflicts of its Spanish
American neighbors, and more closely aligned with the United States. Perhaps in the
successful undertaking of this mission, Brazil can return to its status often articulated in
the early nineteen eighties as a "middle power."
6 See Rozental, Andr6s, "Mexico y el Consejo de Seguridad," Inter-American Dialogue, (Washington,
D.C.: 11 Oct. 2004), Online: lLtp %% %\ \ .thedialogue.org/publications/oped/oct04/rozental_1011.asp
If Brazil succeeds in Haiti, a nation which has spent an inordinate amount of its
turbulent history either occupied by foreign troops or controlled by homegrown military
strongmen, then it may find itself in a truly unique place in the inter-American system: it
may become the first American nation to come out of the so-called "Age of Uncertainty"
with clear objectives in the Western Hemisphere.
Perhaps Brazil, not the United States, will be considered as the new backstop for
democracy in troubled nations in the hemisphere. It is, after all, a titanic country only
twenty years removed from a military dictatorship whose citizens can understand the
challenges present in developing nations. If Brazil somehow parlays the mission into
permanent Security Council membership, then it will have gone a long way in finding a
set of foreign policy objectives that Rozental lamented Mexico (along with every other
country in Latin America) had already lost -- a place and a purpose in the world.
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William Gilbert Shields Jr. was born in Richmond, Virginia, in 1975, the son of
Linda and William Gilbert Shields. Almost all of his experience in Latin America and the
Caribbean he gained during a career as a newspaper reporter, working for publications
such as The Guadalajara Colony Reporter, The Virgin Islands Daily News, and The
Associated Press. In 2003 he was on a small team of reporters at the Daily News that won
the Associated Press Managing Editors Award for Public Service after the newspaper
exposed repeated examples of government largesse. He earned his bachelor's degree
from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, in 1997.