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Brazilian Journalist Uncovers J. W. F. Dulles Interview with Brazil’s João Goulart in Benson Collection

Posted: April 8, 2014
John W. F. Dulles and Nettie Lee Benson pose with newly arrived archives from Brazil, June 1975.

John W. F. Dulles and Nettie Lee Benson pose with newly arrived archives from Brazil, June 1975.

In an article for the daily Folha de São Paulo published on April 2, 2014, Brazilian journalist Lucas Ferraz reveals the existence of a previously unpublished interview between Latin American historian John W. Foster Dulles and deposed Brazilian president João Belchoir Marques Goulart (aka Jango) dated November 15, 1967. Ferraz encountered the interview while conducting research at the University of Texas at Austin’s Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection.

According to Ferraz, the Benson Collection contains hundreds of interviews between Dulles and the principal participants in the coup of March 31, 1964, which ushered in more than two decades of oppressive military rule in Brazil.

In the interview, which took place in Montevideo, Uruguay, Goulart’s country of exile, the deposed president lay partial blame for the coup on President Lyndon Johnson, unaware that it had actually been John F. Kennedy who set in motion U.S. support for the military takeover. Goulart had considered Kennedy to be a friend and ally.

Indeed, in an Oval Office meeting on July 30, 1962, that was secretly taped by Kennedy, the U.S. president and his advisers discuss “strengthening the spine” of the Brazilian military. Later tapes reveal discussions about how to force Goulart to “either purge leftists in his government and alter his nationalistic economic and foreign policies or be forced out by a U.S.-backed putsch” (The National Security Archive, April 2, 2014, accessed on April 7, 2014).

According to Dulles, Goulart stipulated that the interview be off the record. His remarks, he said, were “personal opinions” that he hoped would help Dulles understand Brazil. In the conversation, Goulart commented that Brazilians were aware of the “excess of interference“ on the part of the United States in Brazilian affairs. The United States, he said, “talks a lot about democracy but it should permit democracy.”

Visit the Benson’s John W. F. Dulles Papers Relating to Brazil, 1920–1979 to learn more.

Read the original article in Folha de São Paulo: Lucas Ferraz, "Entrevista inédita de Jango expõe sua opinião sobre o golpe militar de 1964."

To read the text of the Dulles–Goulart interview, in Portuguese, visit "Leia a íntegra da entrevista inédita de Jango ao historiador John Dulles."

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