The Role of Brazilian Intelligence in the Geopolitics of Grandeza (1964–2002) *
El papel de la inteligencia brasileña en la geopolítica de Grandeza (1964–2002)
Gisela da Silva Guevara1 (Portugal)
1 BA in History. MA in Intelligence and Security Studies. PhD in Political Science and International Relations. Professor and researcher at the Faculty of Finances, Government and International Relations, Externado de Colombia University. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org – Orcid: https://orcid.org/0000–0003–3905–4762
Reception Date: October 2018
Approval Date: March 2019
How to Cite this Article: Guevara, Gisela da Silva. (2019). The Role of Brazilian Intelligence in the Geopolitics of Grandeza (1964–2002). Estudios Políticos (Universidad de Antioquia), 55. http://doi.org/10.17533/udea.espo.n55a07
Far from what most scholars have assumed, under the authoritarian regime (1964–1985) Brazil did not limit itself to importing anticommunist concepts from the United States, but it developed a conceptualization of its own aimed at transforming the country into a regional hegemon. The author's starting assumption is that little attention has been paid to the role of Brazilian intelligence in the aspirations of the leaders of the country since the putsch of 1964, who followed the scope of achieving regional hegemony. Moreover, this article shall show that this aim has historical continuity from the authoritarian regime through democratic Brazil given the fact that intelligence was still employed to support the country's aspirations of greatness (Grandeza) under Collor de Mello (1990–1992) and Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995–2002).
Keywords: International Relations; Geopolitics; Regional Hegemony; Security; Intelligence; Brazil.
Lejos de lo que la mayoría de los estudiosos han asumido, bajo el régimen autoritario (1964–1985) Brasil no se limitó a la importación de conceptos anticomunistas de Estados Unidos, sino que desarrolló una conceptualización propia que buscaba transformar al país en una potencia hegemónica regional. El punto de partida de este artículo es que se ha prestado poca atención al papel de la inteligencia brasileña en las aspiraciones de los líderes del país desde el golpe de Estado de 1964 en aras de alcanzar la hegemonía regional. Además, este artículo demuestra que este objetivo tiene una continuidad histórica entre el régimen autoritario y el Brasil democrático, dado que la inteligencia todavía se ha empleado para apoyar las aspiraciones de grandeza del país —Grandeza— bajo los mandatos de Fernando Collor de Mello (1990–1992) y Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995–2002).
Palabras clave: Relaciones Internacionales; Geopolítica; Hegemonía Regional; Seguridad; Inteligencia; Brasil.
Economic power, number of inhabitants, access to technology and military power are decisive requirements for a country to become a rising power (NIC, 2004, p. 9).1 Nonetheless, intelligence is also a crucial tool for nations with aspirations to become regional hegemons. According to Marco Cepik (2002, p. 264), «information superiority» allows a more efficient management of human and material resources, increases the survivability of military forces and contributes to better performing the functions of command during a war. Furthermore, Cepik (2007, p. 150) observes that «intelligence services are an essential part—along with the military, police, and diplomats—of the bureaucratic apparatus of any state with minimal intentions of having autonomy2 in the international system.» .For his part, Michael Herman (2003) points out that intelligence is «a significant part of the modern state and a factor in government's success and failure. [...] It constitutes its own particular kind of state power: intelligence power.» (p. 2).
According to Cepik (2002), intelligence services cannot be defined as hard power because they fulfill informational functions but they can be used for coercive purposes. Nonetheless, Intelligence has often been viewed as a tool of hard power. A publication of the US Army describes the intelligence warfighting function as «the product resulting from the collection, processing, integration, evaluation, analysis, and interpretation of available information concerning foreign nations, hostile or potentially hostile forces or elements, or areas of actual or potential operations.» It follows: «The Army generates intelligence through the intelligence warfighting function.» (Headquarters. Department of the US Army, 2010). From the author's perspective, the current case study would be better investigated if it is assumed that Brazilian intelligence services were a crucial tool of smart power3 strategies to consolidate the country's regional ambitions between 1964 and 2002.4
In order to conduct the present research it is necessary to take into account various notions of what defines regional powers ideational projects and their strategies, particularly those of Brazil. As Andrew Hurrell (2010, p. 16) states, «ideas and interests of regional powers can rarely be understood solely within a domestic or regional context. Regional powers do not exist as closed–off entities.» In turn, Kurt Weyland (2016, pp. 145–146) highlights the «means–ends dilemma that constraints rising middle powers: if they want to propel their ascendance, they must foreswear antagonism against established powers and forgo aggression against the weaker neighbors.» Also, Sean Burges (2009) argues that there is an ideational dimension of the Brazilian leadership after the Cold War that aimed at articulating South America «as a distinct geoeconomic and geopolitical space.» (p. 14).
Daniel Flemes (2010, p. 100) states that «for a long time Brazil has been regarded as a passive regional power in a South America marked by self–isolation.» Since the Cardoso administration, mainly during his second period, Brazil focused decisively on South America, which meant, inter alia, employing regional strategies in order to consolidate Brazil's regional leadership; for example, mediating regional territorial conflicts. As Matias Spektor (2010, p. 192) observes, «Brazil's regional activism [...] can be traced back to the 1980s, gaining momentum in the late 1990s and 2000s.» In turn, Burges (2009, p. 27) highlights that under the Figueiredo presidency, during the authoritarian regime, there was a «resurgence of regional integration policies in the Southern Cone.» Referring mainly to Brazil, India and South Africa in the 21st century, Philip Nel & Matthew Stephen (2010, p. 71) stress that «in their regions» regional powers «rely on a preponderance of material and ideational resources and institutional capacities to project their interests and values beyond their immediate borders and provide some cohesion to the region by delivering one or more public goods.»
Since Brazil had not mainly used military actions in South America during the 20th century,5 some scholars highlight that the country's strategies aimed at consolidating a «South American region» under Brasilia's leadership were pursued by means of economic cooperation with its neighbors. For example, Burges (2009) stresses Brasilia's strong economic presence since the 1970s in Bolivia and Paraguay, whereas Weyland (2016, pp. 145–146) underscores that «Brazil's determination to augment its national power [...] requires economic cooperation to boost its development and thereby strengthen its resource base for projecting international influence.»
This paper argues that in order to better explain Brazil's strategies to advance an autonomous project of «Brasil potencia» since 1964, it is important to take into account actions pursued by Brazilian intelligence services in South America backed by the ideational project of Brazil's role in the region as guarantor for security and development. Since the nation has been peaceful and has avoided involvement in interstate armed conflicts, one might mistakenly claim that intelligence has not played a significant role in this country. But this premise does not resist a closer review of sources. In fact, Brazil has employed sophisticated intelligence since the 1960s to influence its neighbors broadly.
The author's starting hypothesis is that little attention has been paid to the role of Brazilian intelligence in the aspirations of the leaders of the country since the putsch of 1964, following the scope of achieving regional hegemony. Moreover, this article shall show that there is a historical continuity from the authoritarian regime through democratic Brazil given the fact that intelligence was still employed to support the country's aspirations of greatness (Grandeza) under Collor de Mello and Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
The various approaches to hegemony in international relations make it difficult to define precisely the role of Brazil in regional affairs. According to Dirk Nabers (2010, p. 69), «in a nutshell, hegemony means nothing more than the discursive struggle between political actors over the assertion that their particular representations of the world have a universal significance.» Burges (2009, p. 10) introduced the notion of a «consensual hegemony» that is «not about the framing of an explicit power relationship [...]. Rather it focuses on the construction of a project, in the Brazilian case, on various regional initiatives in South America.» Tracing back the Brazilian project of a South American regionalism, Burges argues that this project had less successful outcomes from Rio Branco to President Kubitschek.
Brazil has tried, in most cases successfully, to influence its neighbors not only by financial and economic means but also by cooperating with neighboring countries in intelligence issues. From 1964 through 1985, this cooperation aimed not only at creating regional security based on the conception that communist subversion was the main obstacle to development, but also at achieving regional...