Part 10: New Government, Old Priorities
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Part 10: New Government, Old Priorities


Bento Munhoz da Rocha's 67 day long presidency was, thakfully, uneventful. Its primary focus was stabilizing Brazil after its very close brush with civil war, and because of this his cabinet included members of all major political parties no matter their position in the political spectrum, from PTB to UDN. Although not a reformist administration - there wasn't enough time to enact any groundbreaking measures, anyway - it still managed to be noticeably different from that of its archconservative predecessor. Not only there were known progressive figures in important ministries, but the labour unions that were repressed by DOPS for years were now allowed to operate freely, so long as they did so within the limits of the law. Because of this, several people who were detained for "reasons of internal security" were released.

And since reducing military interference in politics was a critical step towards ensuring the country didn't suffer a second coup, its ranks were subjected to a "careful revision". Despite not being drastic enough to be called a real purge, especially since most of the hardcore reactionaries in the armed forces were already in exile, a small number of officers whose loyalty was deemed suspect was encouraged to retire from active duty sooner than they expected - with the guarantee they'd receive a full pension, of course - while some found themselves being sidelined in matters such as promotions in favor of others who were considered more reliable (1). The most important positions were, predictably, stacked with generals who took part in the Campanha da Legalidade, with the post of Minister of War being given to Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco.
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President Munhoz da Rocha attending a state ceremony.
All things considered, Munhoz da Rocha was an excellent president - not one whose name had a prestigious spot in the history books like his successor Leonel Brizola or Franco Montoro, but one who not only fulfilled his mission, to protect the country's young and fragile democracy as best as he could, but was also quite successful at doing so. The people of his native state of Paraná clearly agreed with this assessment, given he would be elected to serve a second term as governor in 1965 (2).
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The inauguration of Leonel Brizola as the 21st president of Brazil was unlike anything Rio de Janeiro had ever seen before. "The streets of the capital," a journalist said sarcastically, "had more gaúchos than cariocas in them." While this was an obvious hyperbole, there were many people from Rio Grande do Sul in the jubilant crowds celebrating the former governor's rise to the presidency, which was made all the more poetic by the fact the last gaúcho to take the post was Getúlio Vargas. Other "foreigners" who showed up in large numbers to see and hear the man they voted for speak were industrial workers from cities like São Paulo, Volta Redonda and Belo Horizonte, to say nothing of those who worked in capital's many factories, and tens of thousands of favelados, to the disgust of the elite.
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The presidential motorcade makes its way to the Catete Palace.

The core component of the two speeches Brizola gave that day - one before both houses of Congress, another directed to the people - was the word change. It wasn't surprising, really, given he not only happened to be the youngest chief executive to ever be elected - his 39th birthday happened just nine days before his accession to the presidency - campaigned on breaking with the past once and for all. "The nation", he began, "wanted and needed to change" (3).

These words were, if anything, an understatement: 15.9 million Brazilians with 14 years of age or older were illiterate, an astonishing 40% of all people within this age group. Millions more were denied basic services like running water or electricity, especially in most of the interior, where the only law which existed was that of the coronéis. Finally, most of the major internal improvements that were made during the last five years took place in the South and especially the Southeast, increasing the main cities' populations beyond their capacity to support them properly.

Long story short, the situation was bad, and the cabinet assembled by the newly inaugurated president showed how he intended to tackle this crisis:
Chief of Staff: Wilson Vargas (PTB-RS)
Finance: Celso Furtado (no party)
Justice: Barbosa Lima Sobrinho (PSB-PE)
Education: Anísio Teixeira (no party)
Health: Lutero Vargas (PTB-RS)
*Foreign Relations: San Tiago Dantas (PTB-MG)
Agriculture: Ney Braga (PDC-PR)
**Social Development: Josué de Castro (PTB-PE)
Industry: Egídio Michaelsen (PTB-RS)
Labour: Domingos Vellasco (PSB-GO)
Mines and Energy: Pelópidas da Silveira (PSB-PE)
Transportation and Public Works: Muniz Falcão (PSP-AL)

*Left his post prematurely for health reasons.
**New ministry.

Not only was the new government dominated by petebistas and socialists, with a couple of concessions to PDC and PSP to ensure their loyalty, the ministers were almost all people who were opposed to the status quo in some way: Anísio Teixeira was a lifelong defender of public education, Josué de Castro built his career on denouncing the chronic famines that ravaged the Northeast over and over for centuries, Pelópidas da Silveira and Muniz Falcão were sworn adversaries of their respective states' oligarchic groups, and so on. The only set of policies that stayed mostly unchanged were the economic ones, as shown by the presence of Celso Furtado in the Ministry of Finance, and even they would shift their focus to more distant, underdeveloped regions.

Although it was still too early to enact most of the Reformas de Base's initiatives, especially the bolder ones concerning land reform and universal healthcare, Brizola set about doing as much as he could with the energetic style he was now famous for the moment he got used to his new position. For the moment, his field of action was restricted to signing bills and amendments that had stagnated in the abyss that existed between legislative approval and presidential sanction - some of them for years on end - and negotiating wage increases, both of them things that made a world of difference for millions of people and served as a sign of what was to come.

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Notes:

(1)This is a much milder and more humane treatment than the one the dictatorship gave to those in the Armed Forces who were deemed to have "subversive sympathies": 6,5 thousand men were fired then subjected to arbitrary arrests, declared legally dead, harassed in several ways and, obviously, tortured.

(2) IOTL Munhoz da Rocha ran for governor in 1965 and lost by a narrow margin.

(3) I got these words from a
magnificent speech Ulysses Guimarães made in October 5, 1988, the day Brazil's current constitution was promulgated.
 
Considering how Latin American TLs are so rare, this is a breath of fresh air. Thank you so much for this! Some questions:
  1. How else is Latin America different? I know that with everything that's going on a domino effect is just waiting to happen. And what's the US gonna do?
  2. So when will Lebanon join the UAR? And does the UAR have any plans to go after Kuwait? How else in North Africa impacted?
  3. Anything else different in the US?
 
How else is Latin America different? I know that with everything that's going on a domino effect is just waiting to happen. And what's the US gonna do?
Fewer military coups and dictatorships, mostly.
So when will Lebanon join the UAR? And does the UAR have any plans to go after Kuwait? How else in North Africa impacted?
Lebanon won't join the UAR, the Christian population wouldn't allow it without a civil war. As for the other two questions, I can't answer them because of spoilers.
Anything else different in the US?
I'll write an US-centered chapter (or two) addressing the fifties and sixties.

All I'll say is that they won't be as eager to overthrow every democratically elected government that isn't completely subordinate to them as they were IOTL.
 
Fewer military coups and dictatorships, mostly.

Lebanon won't join the UAR, the Christian population wouldn't allow it without a civil war. As for the other two questions, I can't answer them because of spoilers.

I'll write an US-centered chapter (or two) addressing the fifties and sixties.

All I'll say is that they won't be as eager to overthrow every democratically elected government that isn't completely subordinate to them as they were IOTL.
Pan-Arabism did have popularity in Lebanon though even from Christians. Though not all the Christians identify as Arab TBF.

Also I hardly see how the US can just stand by. Would they at least try another attempt before considering throwing the towel?
 
Also I hardly see how the US can just stand by. Would they at least try another attempt before considering throwing the towel?
There are other, more subtle ways to influence other countries' internal politics, ways that don't involve arming people to invade them. And since IIRC Guatemala was one of the first "aggressive" coups the US pulled off during the Cold War (the other one was Iran, which was a very different case), I think it's plausible that a failure there could change some people's minds.
 
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There are other, more subtle ways to influence other countries' internal politics, ways that don't involve arming people to invade them. And since IIRC Guatemala was one of the first "aggressive" coups the US pulled off during the Cold War (the other one was Iran, which was a very different case), I think it's plausible that a failure there could change some people's minds.
Possibly, but assuming Latin America gets more leftist there's going to be a lot of people in the US government who'll try to stem this.
 
That is a lovely cabinet, and also a good thing that the PDC and PSP got allowed to the coalition. Otl one of the main figures who supported a PDC-PTB-PSD front was Ney Braga, governor of Paraná, is he doing anything?

Also what happened to Adhemar de Barros?
 
That is a lovely cabinet, and also a good thing that the PDC and PSP got allowed to the coalition. Otl one of the main figures who supported a PDC-PTB-PSD front was Ney Braga, governor of Paraná, is he doing anything?

Also what happened to Adhemar de Barros?
Ney isn't governor of Paraná ITTL (he probably would've refused to be a minister if he was, given his term started in 1961) since Abilon de Sousa Naves (a senator from PTB who probably would've won the 1960 gubernatorial race) doesn't die prematurely.

Ademar is still around, but his political career is practically over thanks to multiple accusations of corruption and the demise of his machine at the hands of Franco Montoro. Although he's still the leader of PSP, Muniz Falcão's position is much stronger ITTL (he failed to elect a successor as governor of Alagoas IOTL, here he does) and it's only a matter of time before he kicks Ademar out of the party.

Looking back, there were some really interesting downballot races in 1960 (especially in Alagoas, where the OTL governor won by a margin of just 1.702 votes!), I should've saved a spot for them, if only as footnotes. Oh well, I'll talk about them a little in the 1962 elections.
 
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I have to admit that along with @TickTock The Witch's Dead , I find it hard to believe the US establishment would take one setback versus OTL as grounds to restrict itself to a higher road than OTL. It is a red herring to say "well, Cuba doesn't go Leninist and ally with Moscow, so Washington is more relaxed." Guatemala OTL could hardly have been said by any reasonable person to have gone "Red," yet Washington went just as berserk as if they had. Because "Red" was really a code word in the context for "not subservient to US corporate interests," and taking a high road of propriety and permitting grassroots populist democracy to set policy in the north of Latin America, "USA's Backyard" as we so possessively put it and certainly flanking such a sensitive and politically vulnerable asset as control of the Panama Canal, would be a formula for ongoing and escalating incursions on corporate profit maximization. (I suspect in the longer run it would be a "rising tide lifts all boats" situation, and better welfare for the people of Central America, which would probably translate into better outcomes in Mexico, northern South America, and the Caribbean too, would result in stronger export markets for Yankee industry--in fact the pattern post-WWII was to supplement export of Industrial North goods with export of industry to the Third World, which on paper ought to make everyone richer, but in truth was managed so as to maximize corporate controlled assets which could be transferred across national lines at discretion of the corporations. On paper, if one believes the platitudes of Economics 101 as taught in the corporate-apologist Western schools, trade patterns automatically seek optimums and the polarization between poorer and richer nations are simply for the best in this the best of all possible worlds, any alternative must be presumed to be worse. If one falls back to anyway believing the corporations are checked by competition from any behavior other than the disinterested offer of goods and services to free purchasers, it should not matter whether the governments of Central America are democratic or not, either way the pattern of division of revenues between corporate capital owners and working people should be the same, and if investment in industry in say Venezuela or El Salvador comes under the effective legal and political oversight of popularly responsible republican governments it should be the same as if they were under some caudillo. In practice, if caudillos in fact owe their power to being propped up by Northern agencies, a mix of shadowy private and covert public agencies putting their thumb on the scale of the social balance of power, then it makes a huge difference--because the Northern corporations can invest knowing the local state will prioritize their interests over those of the local people, with the local ruling classes being coopted to interests centered outside their own country. If one accepts this order as natural and inevitable, then of course many of these latter can plausibly deny being anything other than patriotic, as attracting investment from the rich nations is seen as a benefit to the nation as a whole--never mind it is especially so to this limited kleptocratic clique, and whether the majority of people, especially the poorer ones, are better off or not is something people can at least debate.

If such leaders as Arbenz can abide in peace, their fates riding solely on the political consensus of their own nationals, then foreign, practically speaking, "Northern" or in this age almost entirely US, investors have to take their chances with the general sense of justice that prevails in these countries, just as British investors putting money down in the USA in the 19th century had to hope Yankee courts and legislators would see close enough to eye to eye to protect their investments on an equal basis with US domestic investors, and that those investors did not suffer from an "excess" of radical democracy coopting the gains of the plutocracy. If the people of the USA had elected to go socialist in say 1902, there wouldn't be much the British investors could do to recover their sunk costs. If the USA sticks to high flown principles of respecting sovereignty, then US investors are in the same boat as those 19th Century British investors in the USA. Quite aside from the question of whether the magnitude of profit flowing back northward would be as great without their handpicked "our sons of bitches" in place, the even more worrisome question is, "will these people's governments confiscate our investment unilaterally, or ill-founded as our Economics professors assure us their ambitions are, will this mob rule lead to general breakdown that sinks our investment as surely as if it were taken from us openly, anyway?"

In other words--I think history shows that if all Central American, Caribbean and northern South American governments were to run things much the way Guatemala was being run prior to the OTL intervention (attempted but failing here) and for some unexplained reason or other El Norte did not have the option of running a series of interventions to change that to something more under their so very responsible and grown up control, then perhaps with some reticence and queasiness, the same corporations would invest, accepting the rule of law as laid down by the locals as their frame of doing business, and if they behaved that way, they would find that the greater wealth sticking to the fingers of the common people in these nations leads ultimately to profits about as great in magnitude as what they got OTL by squeezing poorer countries harder.

But they have no way of knowing that, of knowing that they are no poorer (in absolute terms) than they would be if they had freedom to run the whole hemisphere as their own private racket, and could well take the revenue they get as a smaller share of a bigger pie for granted and figure they'd have been richer if only they could have squeezed harder.

And second, wealth is power, power is wealth, and the same revenue and equity that is a smaller share of a bigger pie is less power. Another way of saying, that the OTL hegemony brought these northern actors more power, more say in how Latin America develops, for whose benefit, than this ATL better off world I believe was possible.

There is no motive north of the Rio Grande to take a softer line, and failure of one coup just doubles down on the resolution to do what it takes to make the next coup more successful.

Plausible deniability is what it is all about of course; few American leaders went about saying openly that they were intent on maximizing the control American investors had over the operations of the entire world. They said they were for freedom, first of all, and fairness, and in opposition to an unspeakable tyranny opposed in its foundation and conception to human good in all forms. The sort of thing that happened to Arbenz and Allende OTL was said to be out of US hands, just the turning of domestic political wheels. That US force was involved was an open secret, but not one US officials would admit to on the record.

On paper, for public consumption, the USA was devoted to the high road, to rule of law, to human freedom and dignity. The politicians of the era would therefore gain nothing rhetorically speaking by actually doing what they claimed they are always doing anyway.

i think if we want El Norte to behave differently, we have to change the nature of US domestic politics. If it were possible in the USA for many smaller parties to exist, it is possible that in the early Cold War period while the same conservative mentality could dominate, it could not do so without some established if smaller parties crying foul to such tactics in an effective manner. Then if a single early prototype coup backfires into a putsch, the ruling conservative faction might find itself constrained indeed, by fear of losing domestic support, or the particular parties involved in supporting the hard-line covert action regime might fall in favor of other parties who remain committed to the Cold War as opposition to Soviet expansion, but by means matching the high-flown values the "war" was proclaimed to serve. I think we might get an ATL USA that behaved pretty much as OTL up to 1945, internationally speaking anyway, via a higher tide of reformism 1880-1920 that institutes a proportional electoral system in Congress, which would likely then be replicated in most state governments and eventually mandated for all, via Amendment if necessary. (Indeed to achieve proportionality in Congress Amendments are probably required anyway, though one can come closer without any). So there would need to be a POD back around 1890 or so, in the USA.

All this said, it sure would be nice to believe that my government only needed a little bit of discouragement in bad behavior to behave decently. I only wish I could share the author's optimism that one failed attempt is all it would take.
 
I only wish I could share the author's optimism that one failed attempt is all it would take.
I will admit first and foremost that I didn't read a single bit of your post except for this part (sorry), but I hope that the US update (which is still a few chapters away, sorry again) can clarify a few things, especially in regards to foreign policy. The guy who becomes POTUS in 1960 is someone whose political career failed miserably IOTL, that's all I'll say.
 
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Ademar is still around, but his political career is practically over thanks to multiple accusations of corruption and the demise of his machine at the hands of Franco Montoro. Although he's still the leader of PSP, Muniz Falcão's position is much stronger ITTL (he failed to elect a successor as governor of Alagoas IOTL, here he does) and it's only a matter of time before he kicks Ademar out of the party.
And Laudo Natel? He was basically Adhemar second in command.
 
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