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The Cold War and Subversion: National Security Doctrine in Latin America

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Julian Dodson

on 17 October 2018

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Transcript of The Cold War and Subversion: National Security Doctrine in Latin America

Central Question:
What are the connections between National Security Doctrine in Latin America, attacks on youth culture and “subversive” sexualities, and the reinforcement of gender inequalities during the Cold War?

The Big Point:
Latin American militaries defined communism and subversion quite broadly, and youth culture and homosexuality were favored targets of the military looking to root out left-wing "subversives."

1954 Declaration of Caracas

All Marxist revolutionary activity is alien to the Western Hemisphere.

Organization of American States (OAS) member nations had free reign to treat opposition movements as foreign invasions.

Opposition movements from the left were often said to be instigated by foreign intellectuals and outside agitators.
Jacobo Arbénz
The Cuban Revolution
The Cold War and Subversion: National Security Doctrine in Latin America
1947 "Rio Pact"
A permanent Pan-American defensive alliance to combat communism in the Western Hemisphere

Latin American armed forces were to be key US allies in the defense of the "free world," and counter-insurgency was their special role.

Latin American armies should turn their weapons inward against the "internal enemies of freedom": revolutionary organizers in factories, poor neighborhoods, and universities.
"Alliance for Progress"

Essentially a Marshall Plan for Latin America

Intended to reduce revolutionary pressures by stimulating economic development and political reform

But, making substantial changes in whole societies, eliminating wealth disparities in whole societies is much harder and more expensive than supplying guns and counterinsurgency training...

So the increase in funding went to pay for guns and counterinsurgency.

Brazilian Military Dictatorship and the Higher War College, 1964-1985

Framed national security threats as sexual and gendered attacks on an ideally anti-communist Brazil

Obsession with the idea of moral disintegration and sexual disorder. These concerns were focused on Brazilian youth.

Theorists at the Higher War College specified student groups and women's organizations as the most likely to succumb communist infiltration.

For these theorists, the counter to the threat of communism was national masculinization--a "toughening up" of Brazilian young men, mainly through compulsory military service.
March 1964

Brazilian military saw President João Goulart as a potential communist dictator and staged a coup to remove him from power.
The Brazilian military was in power from 1964 until 1985. In those 25 years state violence took 195 lives. Another 144 were "disappeared" by government forces.

Within days of the coup, the military rounded up thousands of suspected subversives. They called it Operação Limpeza (Operation Cleanup).
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