CIA activities in Brazil

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Known United States Central Intelligence Agency activities in Brazil date from the early 1960s to the end of the Operation Condor, a secret alliance between the dictators in South America in the 1970s.

1964 Brazilian coup d'état[edit]

With increasing warning of the impending coup against the democratically-elected President João Goulart, US President Lyndon Baines Johnson, according to an audio tape, directed taking "every step that we can" to support the overthrow of Goulart, who followed an independent foreign policy: he had been opposed both to the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban actions in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The US ambassador, Lincoln Gordon, in consultations with the President, asked for covert preparation to assist the coup plotters, who installed a military dictatorship.[1] Gordon's cables "also confirm CIA covert measures "to help strengthen resistance forces" in Brazil. These included "covert support for pro-democracy street rallies…and encouragement [of] democratic and anti-communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces, friendly labor and student groups, church, and business." Four days before the coup, Gordon informed Washington that "we may be requesting modest supplementary funds for other covert action programs in the near future." He also requested that the U.S. send tankers carrying "POL"-petroleum, oil and lubricants-to facilitate the logistical operations of the military coup plotters, and deploy a naval task force to intimidate Goulart's backers and be in position to intervene militarily if fighting became protracted."

Intelligence collection[edit]

Prior to the 1964 Brazilian coup d'état coup, an information cable from the São Paulo CIA station [2] the coup would be launched within the week; the coup started the following night.

Overt and Covert Action[edit]

ITT owned the phone company of Brazil; Washington was afraid Goulart would nationalize it. ITT's president, Harold Geneen, was friends with the Director of Central Intelligence, John McCone. The CIA performed psyops against Goulart, performed character assassination, pumped money into opposition groups, and enlisted the help of the Agency for International Development and the AFL-CIO. The 1964 Brazilian coup d'état exiled Goulart and the military dictatorship of Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco took over. McCone went to work for ITT a few years later. The dictatorship lasted until 1985.[3]

A naval task force was sent but not needed, and the CIA covert action resources were not used.

Operation Condor[edit]

Operation Condor was a secret alliance between the dictators in South America in the middle and the late 1970s. it was a Southern Cone rendition and repression program which created to track down and eliminate enemies of their military regimes. The Condor Trial had charged 25 high-ranking officers with conspiracy to kidnap, disappear, torture and kill 171 opponents of the regimes that had dominated Southern Cone in the 1970s and the 1980s. the victims of this was about 80 Uruguayans, 50 Argentine, 20 Chileans and dozen more from Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, and Paraguay. these were all targeted by the Condor operatives.

This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.[4]


  1. Kornbluh, Peter (ed.), Brazil marks 40th Anniversary of Military Coup; Declassified Documents Shed Light on US Role, George Washington University National Security Archive Electronic Briefing Book No. 118
  2. Sao Paulo Station, Central Intelligence Agency (30 March 1964), Plans of Revolutionary Plotters in Minas Gerais (PDF)
  3. Burn Before Reading, Admiral Stansfield Turner, 2005, Hyperion, pg. 99. Also see the article on Humberto de Alencar Castelo Branco. Also see BRAZIL MARKS 40th ANNIVERSARY OF MILITARY COUP, National Security Archive, George Washington University. Edited by Peter Kornbluh, 2004.
  4. Osorio, Carlos. "OPERATION CONDOR: National Security Archive Presents Trove of Declassified Documentation in Historic Trial in Argentina". The National Security Archive. Retrieved 30 July 2016.

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