Post-World War Disappointment
In August 1944, about the time Brazilian troops were being sent to Europe, the United States began negotiating the basis of post-war collaboration. The Brazilians were mainly concerned with having a superior military position over Argentina. Such a goal could be achieved by continuing the alliance with the Americans. The two militaries held detailed staff discussions about the structures, armaments and equipping, stationing, missions, and cooperative arrangements with the Brazilian armed forces after the war. The Americans believed that “Brazil was willing and anxious to become a southern partner of the United States in a military sense.” The Brazilian navy hoped to obtain capital ships that would make it unquestionably the strongest navy in South America. The air force too was to be significantly expanded. The new American Ambassador Adolf A. Berle was a negative voice analyzing the reports of the staff discussions. This was the crucial moment in setting the tone of post-war relations. What the Brazilians took as American promises would not be kept. Roosevelt’s death in April 1945 created a huge gap in Brazilian hopes and dreams regarding American assistance. The American military was divided between supporters of Brazil first and those who favored equal treatment for all of Latin America. Brazil’s decision not to participate in the European occupation likely hurt its standing among the allies and its post-war status. Brazil became involved in the Pacific War but only diplomatically and historians have paid slight attention to the matter. Likely, the military overthrow of Getúlio Vargas in October 1945 deflected historians from analysis of relations between the two countries. The actions of Ambassador Berle have been remembered as American intervention in Brazil’s internal affairs.
The successor government of General Dutra, who had been the mainstay of the Estado Novo, was not an experiment in democracy, but more accurately a political closing or perhaps a veiled continuation of the Estado Novo in more acceptable dress. The Dutra government’s continuance of the wartime alignment with the United States did not bring any more benefits than the wartime alliance had already secured. Because Brazil’s status during the war was different from that of its neighbors, Brazilian leaders then and since have expected the great powers to accept the country into their councils.