Washington Coup in Brazil? Was Incoming President US Embassy Informant?

By Daniel McAdams, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity.


Adding to suspicions of a US role in the ouster of independent-minded Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff is a revelation making the rounds today that Michel Temer, the opposition leader who will step in as interim president, had met with US embassy officials in Sau Paulo to provide his assessment and spin on the domestic political situation in Brazil. Thanks to Wikileaks, we have the US embassy cable that resulted from the incoming president’s visit to US political officers.

Acting president Temer will hold office for up to six months while impeached president Rousseff stands trial in the Brazilian senate. If her impeachment is finalized by a two-thirds vote, Temer will remain in office until elections in 2018.

Rousseff’s ouster has been curious all along. She claims it is a coup against the will of the Brazilian voter and indeed she has not been accused of corruption or serious crime. Instead, she has been impeached for accusations that she used some tricky bookkeeping maneuvers to hide the extent of Brazil’s budget deficit in advance of her successful 2014 re-election bid. Observers would note that if fiddling with economic statistics to make a country’s balance sheet look better were grounds for impeachment in the United States, there would have been successive impeachments for decades or perhaps longer.

There are more curiosities surrounding the US role in Brazil’s “regime change” this week. Just weeks ago, as Brazil’s lower house of parliament began the process by voting 367 to 137 for impeachment, one very powerful opposition senator made his way to Washington to make his case in the Beltway corridors of power.

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald wrote at the time:

Today — the day after the impeachment vote — Sen. Aloysio Nunes of the (opposition) PSDB will be in Washington to undertake three days of meetings with various U.S. officials as well as with lobbyists and assorted influence-peddlers close to Clinton and other leading political figures.

Sen. Nunes is meeting with the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Undersecretary of State and former Ambassador to Brazil Thomas Shannon; and attending a luncheon on Tuesday hosted by the Washington lobbying firm Albright Stonebridge Group, headed by former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Bush 43 Commerce Secretary and Kellogg Company CEO Carlos Gutierrez.

The US has long been opposed to Rousseff, seeing her independent-mindedness and participation in the BRICS trade grouping as a threat to US influence in the region. Leftist governments in both Brazil and Venezuela have long been targets of US destabilization efforts. When Edward Snowden revealed that the NSA had been tapping her phones, Rousseff delivered a blistering speech at the United Nations accusing the US of violating international law and violating “the principles that must guide the relations among…friendly nations.” Most foreign leaders when informed that the NSA had been spying on them sheepishly dropped the subject. Rousseff was almost alone in venting her rage over what she viewed as betrayal by a friendly government.

Is today’s news about Temer’s trips to the US embassy a smoking gun of a US role in this week’s dramatic events? It must be stated that a meeting between political opposition figures and US embassy officials is not uncommon, and some alternative press accusations that the meeting makes Temer a US “informant” or even a US intelligence agent are probably over-blown. Embassy personnel as a matter of course cultivate political leaders in countries where they are posted to help get an understanding of the broad political situation. But it is part of the US interventionist strategy, from Moscow to Budapest to Minsk to Damascus to Sau Paulo, for US embassy personnel to actively engage opposition figures in countries where the US would like to see regime change. While it is understandable — and can even be admirable — that US embassy political officers actually get out from behind the embassy walls, it is also no secret that these meetings can be highly selective and can serve as a way to reinforce existing US policy toward a particular country instead of gaining a better understanding of the broad political landscape.

How deeply are Washington’s fingers in the pie of Brazil’s political crisis? There is at least one precedent, Greenwald notes in the above article. After years of strident US denial, secret documents were finally released revealing the central role played by the US in Brazil’s 1964 military coup to remove a left-wing government. Plus ça change?

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  • Daniel “No Passport” Bruno

    With B for BrICS as in Brazil, and a Brazilian politico going to meet Ms. 500K deaths are worth it Halfbright and the state dept, it is unrealistic to suppose that the Obama regime is not involved in this stealth coup that just tossed out 54 million votes for dilma. Im down here in the region and here is the deal: these progressive democratic governments have overturned a centuries old order internally viz. the small white hereditary minority that owns everything and externally viz. the USA and the Monroe Doctrine. With the collapse in commodity prices, as well as sabotage, these countries are in a depression. Dilma should have called in the tanks to arrest the senate before things got this far. The problem with these populist true democrats is they take democracy too seriously for their own good. Maduro is next if he doesnt use the military to suspend the government. Any rightwinger would do it. The US, by not protesting, is applauding what just happened to Dilma. The US is not on the side of democracy in Latin America. What else is new?

    • Brockland A.T.

      What’s new is that blood isn’t running in the streets already. Genuine democracy may yet prevail.

      If the democratic process survives, then Brazil wins.

      If democracy falls, and especially falls bloodily and violently, then yes, the Beltway psychopaths win.

      • colinjames71

        Speaking of blood running in central/south America, I love this interview, guy goes into the death squads and a few historical tidbits even though the topic is technically about Ukraine.


        • Brockland A.T.

          Nice stuff, thanks.

          Like I was posting though, as long as the democratic process survives, there’s hope. Mr. Bruno seems to favour Dilma calling out the tanks like a right wing government would; armed force suppresses democracy and replaces civil order with armed force.

          A left-wing armed coup isn’t any more helpful than a right-wing armed coup. Corruption is a real problem; the military option is the last option one would want to see used by either side. Plus it would ~legitimize~ a more overt U.S. intervention.

          This is Brazil’s Revolution of 1900 moment, in some ways. They have to get through it peacefully. Temer’s right is, so far, as restrained as Dilma’s left; she didn’t call out the tanks, and Temer isn’t disappearing political opponents upon gaining power.

          In part perhaps its that neither side has the power to exercise arbitrary power. Maybe its a CIA courtesy because of the white European pedigree of the true Brazilian aristocracy. Maybe Brazil is too close and too big to break egregriously. Or maybe its an oversight and just delayed. But civil order is more or less being maintained.

          The delay in bloodletting, and potential for avoiding it completely, is rather new for the CIA. Usually its scorched earth ASAP just to be on the safe side, which results in disaster even for the U.S. over the long term.

          • colinjames71

            Yeah once again great read on the situation, and I favour non violence as well- agreed on the left v right violence as being equally damaging, though I don’t know much about Brazil’s history. I took the call for “tanks in the street” not so much as left v right but national sovereignty v foreign disruption, even though it is acting thru right wing neoliberal proxies as per usual. But then if Dilma DID call in the troops just imagine the uproar by Obama, Kerry, State Dept, MSM… they’d probably be more than happy to go full scorched earth, nothing excites the foreign policy establishment like the chance to REALLY destroy something. As far as the lack of that scorched earth policy lately, I think they just don’t need it down in that area anymore- they have such a vast network of media, ngos, bought politicians, business groups, regional supranational govt orgs, so that I can only imagine they find that more effective. Because it sure as hell ain’t about their conscience or principles in seeking non violent means first. That’s about the one thing I’m absolutely sure of.

    • colinjames71

      Good comment. Must be interesting to have a front row seat to the current blitz by the US in Latin America, seems like they’re making up for lost time during the Bush years when all eyes were on Afghanistan, Iraq, the war on terror et al

    • Your right about everything but the tanks. If Dilma did this the US would get involved directly, probably with a little help from some Quislings planted in the Brazilian army. Her best shot would have been calling in the campesinos, loyal union workers, to storm the senate and hold them hostage. A counter-revolution. It’s a long shot but it did work for Hugo Chavez in 2003. Ultimately the only thing that can save Brazil and Venezuela is the people.