quarta-feira, março 03, 2010

569) Brazil and Non-Intervention: Paulo R Almeida

Non-Intervention: a political concept, in a legal wrap
A historical and juridical appraisal of the Brazilian doctrine and practice

Paulo Roberto de Almeida
PhD. in Social Sciences, University of Brussels, career Diplomat.
(September 2009)

Summary:
1. Non-intervention in domestic affairs as an old Westphalian principle
2. The Calvo Doctrine in its historical context: the Droit des Gens in 19th century
3. Pan-American affairs and European intervention: the case of Venezuela, 1902
4. The Roosevelt Corollary and its political consequence: the Drago principle
5. Brazil’s defense of sovereignty at the Second Hague Peace Conference, 1907
6. Inter-American Juridical Committee: its contribution to international law
7. Reconfirmation and evolution of the Brazilian position on non-intervention
8. Non-intervention as a test case: the bipolar age and the Cuban affair
9. Another test case: intervention in the Dominican Republic, 1965
10. Contemporary manifestations of Brazil’s conception of non-intervention

Abstract: Since the inception of its national State and the consolidation of professional diplomacy in the early 19th century, Brazil has consistently adhered to the doctrine of non-intervention, as well as to the clause of self-determination. These are two of the most enduring principles defended by Latin American countries, in the face both of real or supposed threats of European interferences in their internal affairs, and of the more concrete intervention by the U.S., armed or diplomatic against immediate neighbors in the Caribbean and Central America. Notwithstanding, Brazil was either a victim or perpetrator of violations against those principles, having been subjected to abuses by Great Britain in connection with slave traffic. Indeed, Brazil also intervened in the internal affairs of its neighbors, including Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay. During most of the 20th century, Brazil was a staunch defender of the principles of national sovereignty and non-intervention, as well as of the absolute sovereign equality of all nations, as defended by its delegation at the Second Hague Peace Conference (1907). But Brazil was also involved, both voluntarily and involuntarily, in some paradigmatic cases in the region, such as Cuba’s expulsion from the OAS due to its support of guerrilla groups in neighboring countries. Moreover, Brazil had its own participation in the American armed intervention in the Dominican Republic (1965), and, lastly, in the case of the UN mission for the stabilization of Haiti (Minustah), which some equate with interference. Finally, recent diplomatic initiatives from Brazil towards other poor countries have been identified with a behavior of ‘non-indifference’, which is said to be a reverse complement of the non-intervention principle. A final appraisal is that non-intervention may be a juridical concept, but its effective usage has been thoroughly political and selective.
Key words: Non-intervention. Brazil. Inter-American Affairs. Sovereignty.

1. Non-intervention in domestic affairs as an old Westphalian principle
Non-intervention is as old as the sovereign nation-states system established by the Peace of Westphalia of 1648. Since then, it has been developing conceptually and through the practice of modern States, in direct connection with the principle of self-determination. In its contemporary form, the concept appears in a consolidated form in the UN Charter (1945), which, despite its alleged coverage of with the “peoples of the United Nations”, is entirely respectful of the rights of the member states, who are totally sovereign in matters of internal politics (Chapter 1, articles 1 and 2).
Notwithstanding being established as a principle in international law, it was never respected by the big powers in their colonialist and imperialist initiatives throughout the ages. This is, perhaps, one of the reasons why it constituted a main tenet of the juridical thinking worked out in Latin America since the early 19th century. Threats of European intervention after the new independence of the Iberian American States; British economic hegemony over the entire continent and its meddling in political conflicts in many occasions, the rise of the United States as a dominant power at the end of that century, are factors that explain the development by Latin American jurists of new concepts out of the old Westphalian principle. The challenge here was to wrap the economic and political interests of the region’s countries all of them debtors, under a legal cloak designed to serve their State purposes.

2. The Calvo Doctrine in its historical context: the Droit des Gens in 19th century
This was notably done by the Argentine diplomat and legal scholar Carlos Calvo, in his book Le Droit international théorique et pratique, précédé d’un exposé historique des progrès de la science du droit des gens (Paris: Durand et Pedone-Lauriel, 1868). The question was raised in connection with unpaid debts or indemnities of Latin American states vis-à-vis foreign lenders, and the legal treatment of the conflicts arousing there from. The goal was to defend the interests of the indebted governments facing possible judicial prosecution in creditor countries or, worse, open diplomatic intervention, which could be as harsh as armed punitive expeditions (usually by gun-boats). The so-called Calvo doctrine suggested the inclusion in the debt contracts of a clause stating the competence of national courts to settle the conflicts arising from those possible claims in case of default. (See “Calvo Doctrine”, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, 02 Jul. 2009 .)
At that juncture in history, Brazil was a regular player in the financial market, having designated the Rothschild house of London as its official financial agent abroad, and thus contracting each one of its several borrowings abroad – under the traditional form of emission of sovereign bonds – with the British branch of this old financial company. Brazil never defaulted during its monarchic regime (1822-1889), but did consolidate some of the maturing debts into new emissions of sovereign bonds, and so Brazil did not felt the need to make explicit its adherence to the Calvo doctrine. Nonetheless, it surely accepted, and practiced, the principle of exhaustion of local judicial remedies in case of legal proceedings. This relates to the fact that Brazil was subjected to an extra-territorial procedure in respect of British subjects – a legal equivalent to the unequal (capitulation) treaties imposed by big powers upon semi-colonial nations. This régime prevailed since Brazil’s status as a Portuguese colony, a situation endured up to 1844, when the government denounced the humiliating system. For China, for instance, the unequal treaties imposed upon the Middle Empire by Great Britain at the time of the Opium wars – and later by other Western imperialist power – only came to be declared extinct in 1943, when the Republic of China was an ally of the Western powers against the Japan in the Pacific scenario of World War II.

3. Pan-American affairs and European intervention: the case of Venezuela, 1902
Much later, following retaliatory measures adopted by some European powers against the defaulting government of Venezuela, the Argentine foreign minister, Luis María Drago, proposed in 1902 a follow-up to the Calvo doctrine, proclaiming the illegality of the use of force, or armed intervention, in cases involving public debt. In doing so, he invoked the Monroe doctrine, proclaimed eighty years earlier by the American president in order to prevent any European intervention in hemispheric affairs. Incidentally, his 1823 proclamation to the American Congress was supported by Great Britain, which at that moment was interested in barring the old colonial powers or the Holly Alliance from any attempt at a new colonization in the Americas.
Latin American countries later became alarmed, not only by the real or supposed European threats, but also by the actual and growing use of force by the United States against surrounding neighbors in the Caribbean and Central America, practices that started even before the Spanish-American war of 1898. Victory in that was by the United States resulted in the independence of Cuba (and, by the 1910 Platt Amendment to its 1902 Constitution, the submission thereafter of the Caribbean island under a kind of American guardianship or protectorate).

4. The Roosevelt Corollary and its political consequence: the Drago principle

At that moment, the United States were in fact engaged in a substantial revision of the Monroe doctrine, as president Theodore Roosevelt intended to reserve to his own country the right of intervention in Latin American affairs. Albeit confirming adherence to the Monroe doctrine, Roosevelt, in his December 1904 message to the Congress, declared that “chronic wrongdoing” by neighboring countries -- which could mean unwillingness to “pay [its] obligations” – might “require intervention by some civilized nation”, thus forcing the United States, “however reluctantly, in flagrant cases of such wrongdoing or impotence, to exercise of an international police power.”
This had the effect of reinforcing the adherence of Latin American countries to the Drago principle, which was largely reflected in the 1906 Pan-American Conference of Rio de Janeiro, where most Latin American countries sided with the thesis of the Argentine foreign minister. That is, they all requested from the United States a firm, legal and written commitment to not interfere in their internal affairs However, the Big Brother from Norte America was not yet prepared to fully endorse the principle of non-intervention, as required by its Latin American neighbors.
Brazil tried to mend the fence. There were political reasons for Brazil to adhere to a modified, American version of the Drago doctrine. One of these reasons was the desire of the then Minister of Foreign Affairs, Baron Rio-Branco, to establish a joint condominium with the United States to rule over the entire Western hemisphere, in a kind of ‘unwritten alliance’ (See E. Bradford Burns, The Unwritten Alliance: Rio Branco and Brazilian-American Relations. New York: Columbia University Press, 1966). Though aware of Brazilian limitations, at a juncture when Argentine was the richest country in Latin America, Rio-Branco sensed the need to establish a fraternal relationship with the United States, the giant of the North in order to manage the lingering animosity of neighboring countries toward the giant of the South.

5. Brazil’s defense of sovereignty at the Second Hague Peace Conference, 1907
The subject was raised again at the Second Hague Peace Conference, in 1907, where the question of debt recollection by States and the ensuing Drago doctrine on non-intervention, as well as the non-use of force were raised again. This occurred against a background of virtual opposition between, on one side, the European diplomats and the U.S. delegation headed by Porter, and, on the other side, the “Drago doctrine countries”. At that conference, Brazil, considering itself to be a ‘good debtor’, kept a middle-course stance, trying at the same time to placate its neighbors’ fears, and to adopt an accommodating position toward the American and European thesis.
In a speech delivered in July 23, 1907, the Brazilian head of delegation, the eminent jurist Ruy Barbosa, explained the official position as such: “The intervention of the three powers against Venezuela received no approval from anyone among us. (…) We do not deny the obligation to repay… But, some consider that they will not be obliged to comply, unless, under their own advice, they have the means to do so. In this case, however, there is no juridical obligation, but solely a moral duty. (…) This is not the theory of the sovereign right; this is sovereign abuse. If applied to the domestic life of the States, it would abolish the legal order, and it would do the same if applied to international relations. (…) What the American proposal does is to reduce international conflicts regarding debts of foreign States to the common right of compulsory arbitration. It does not repeal, providing the arbitration ends in failure, the legitimacy of the appeal to coercive means to support the right of the creditors.” (Cf. Antonio Augusto Cançado Trindade, Repertório da Prática Brasileira do Direito Internacional Público: Período 1899-1918. Brasília: Fundação Alexandre de Gusmão, 1986, p. 48-51.)
Notwithstanding its intention to reconcile the use of force against debtors with the appeal to compulsory arbitration to settle disputes regarding external debt, the Brazilian delegation could not join other countries in the adoption of a modified version of the Drago doctrine, in the form adopted as the Porter (Second) Convention on the Limitation of the Employment of Force for the Recovery of Contract Debts. The objection was more of a procedural than substantive nature, as Brazil had some qualms about the functioning of an arbitration system under the hegemony of great powers (and their dominance over the selection of judges).
Article 1 of said Convention stated that the Contracting Powers “agree not to have recourse to armed force for the recovery of contract debts claimed from the Government of one country by the Government of another country as being due to its nationals.” But it also stated, right afterwards, that “This undertaking is, however, not applicable when the debtor State refuses or neglects to reply to an offer of arbitration, or, after accepting the offer, prevents any compromise from being agreed on, or, after the arbitration, fails to submit to the award.” (See the full text of this convention at the Avalon Project of Yale Law School; available at: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hague072.asp; access July 2009.)
I n the end, from the 14 conventions negotiated at The Hague, Brazil did not sign that second one – dealing with the collection of contract debts – and the 12th – establishing an International Prize Court. In fact, Brazil only agreed to the first convention, creating the Permanent Court of Arbitration, after an explanation about the absolute equality of sovereign states and the designation of its judges. (Message from the Brazilian president to the Congress, May 3, 1908, regarding the conventions signed at the II Peace Conference. In: Câmara dos Deputados, Mensagens Presidenciais, 1890-1910. Brasilia: Centro de Documentação e Informação da CD, 1978, p. 613-615.) The Brazilian refusal was explicitly linked with the absolute principle of sovereign equality of all States, but the Brazilian jurists were always trying to strike a balance between the rights and duties of every State.

6. Inter-American Juridical Committee: its contribution to international law
At the Third Inter-American Conference of Rio de Janeiro, in 1906, an International Commission of Jurists was created, with representatives from almost all American countries. Its work was mainly directed toward the codification of international law (public and private), which was to guide relations among its member states. After a series of sub-commission workshops and other regional specialized meetings, in the various capitals of the Hemisphere, its prolific work was consolidated in various inter-American treaties or conventions adopted at the Havana conference of 1928, dealing with: Status of Aliens, Treaties, Diplomatic Officers, Consular Agents, Maritime Neutrality, Asylum, Duties and Rights of States in the Event of Civil Strife, and Extradition (this last one at the Montevideo conference, in 1933). On private international law, their work produced an entire code, named the Bustamante Code, still valid. (See Antonio Paulo Cachapuz de Medeiros, “Special Meeting of the Permanent Council marking the Centennial of the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI)”, document CP/INF 5326/06, 29 March 2006.)
Up to that juncture, that is, the beginning of the 1930s, pursuant to the spirit and the practice of the Roosevelt Corollary, the American government was very reluctant to recognize as legitimate the demands from Latin American countries for assurances of non-intervention in their internal affairs from their biggest hemispheric neighbor. At most, Washington started to sign with its neighbors and many other countries a series of ‘pacifist treaties’ conceived by Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan (1913-1915), by which the U.S. only agreed to solve by pacific means conflicts arising with other States, either by direct negotiations between the parties or by means of arbitration.
The guarantees sought by Latin American countries were only formally given – but just as unilateral declarations, not in the form of a legally binding treaty – when president Franklin Delano Roosevelt proclaimed the so-called ‘Good Neighbor Policy’, starting in 1933 under Secretary of State Cordell Hull. But this new orientation in the American policy for the region was guided much more by the U.S. intention of preventing foreign intrusion from the Nazi-Fascist powers of Germany and Italy in the region than by the desire to please Latin American countries.
Brazil had always taken an active part in the work of the International Commission of Jurists, later transformed into the Inter-American Council of Jurists, helping to draft many of its codes and conventions. With the creation of the Organization of American States (OAS), in 1948, the Council had its name changed to become the Inter-American Juridical Committee, the main body for the discussion and proposals of legal matters in the Hemisphere, together with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (1959) and the San José Inter-American Court of Human Rights (created in 1969, effective since 1978).

7. Reconfirmation and evolution of the Brazilian position on non-intervention
Since the Second Hague Peace Conference, in 1907, Brazil has stuck firmly to the main theses of Ruy Barbosa and his speeches concerning the sovereign equality of nations and non-intervention or the use of force in inter-State relations. Among the many positive results from that conference, Barbosa recognized the mitigation of the recourse to war, the codification of the neutrality principle, and improvements in the arbitration system. According to him, the second conference “showed to the strongest States the relevant role of the weakest in the construction of the international law (Droit des gens). It advanced the basis for international pacification, stating clearly that, in an assembly convened to organize the peace, it could not be possible to arrange the votes in accordance with the preparation of the States for the war.” (Cf. Trindade, Repertório, op. cit., p. 67).
However, despite the resolute defense of an absolute concept of national sovereignty and the real and total -- that is, juridical -- equality of all States, some ambiguities remained in the Brazilian position regarding non-intervention, as revealed in subsequent conferences. During the debates over the principle of non-intervention at the Second Commission (International Public Law) of the Sixth International American Conference (Havana, January-February 1928), the Brazilian delegate (and later twice Foreign Minister, the jurist Raul Fernandes) stated the official position regarding the codification of international law. He registered, first the agreement of the American delegation with two subsequent proposals: one, recognizing, the right of States to a complete independence, without intervention or interference of other States in their domestic affairs; the second, their duty to not violate other States’ rights. But he also indicated the understanding of some jurists – among them, one Brazilian, Lafayette Rodrigues Pereira, author of a 1902 book on Principles of International Law – according to whom the traditional Droit des gens would admit the intervention or the interference in the internal affairs of other States if the action had to be taken, on legitimate grounds, in self defense of the intervening State.
Nevertheless, attempting to avoid the division of the American countries in two opposing and antagonist fields, and taking into account that the conference was convened to promote the codification of international law, not to propose new concepts or principles – and legitimate defense would be such a new right, eventually authorizing intervention, or, in extreme cases, war – the Brazilian delegate agreed to the postponing of the whole matter for a future conference. (Cf. Antonio A. C. Trindade, Repertório… Período 1919-1940. Brasília: Fundação Alexandre de Gusmão, 1984, p. 46-47.)
The justification for such an accommodating position was the Brazilian desire to contemplate all positions under discussion, that is, helping to not isolate the United States from the whole opposing side of Iberian countries. According to this reasoning, Raul Fernandes declared the Brazilian willingness to “accept any text that expresses in an adequate form our national thinking to honor the sovereignty of nations, either by preserving them against undue incursions, or by inciting them not to violate or restrict foreign sovereignty. The formula suggested… offers the basis for a general agreement, as it consolidates the two faces of the principle in cause [non-intervention], stating simultaneously the supreme right and the supreme duty of nations”. (Idem, p. 53.)
The question was raised again during a meeting of the Expert Commission for the Codification of International Law, at the Eighth American International Conference (Lima, 1938), when the Brazilian delegation, headed by Hildebrando Accioly, had the opportunity to make clear the Brazilian position: “Brazil considers that one must absolutely condemn the appeal to armed force for the collection of public or contract debts, or the use of force to support claims of a purely or exclusive pecuniary origin; but, if an international controversy arises on those matters, which cannot be solved by ordinary diplomatic means, the debtor State shall have no right to refuse the appeal to arbitration or to a ruling of the International Court of Justice”. (Idem, p. 48.)
This stance was rendered more explicit as follows: “1st, We frankly condemn the coercive collection of public or contract debts; 2nd, We agree that the losses incurred by Foreigners as derived from pecuniary affairs with individuals or from contracts with the State shall only be object of a diplomatic intervention in case of denial of justice; 3rd. We admit that the obligations arising from the external debts of a State shall not be submitted to a diplomatic claim before the total failure of direct negotiations between creditors and the government or the agents of the government of the indebted State; 4th. But we understand that, if in any of those cases, a conflict arises between the indebted State and the State of the creditors, and if such a conflict cannot be settled by the usual diplomatic means, the indebted State shall have no right to extract itself from an appeal to an arbitration or a judicial solution.” (Idem, p. 48)
It is noteworthy that, at that juncture, and differing from its behavior during the 19th century and the early republic, the Brazilian State had already defaulted twice on its external debt (in 1931 and 1937), that it applied a technical moratorium on its foreign obligations and was trying to force its external creditors to admit some kind of pecuniary compensation for a waiver in its insolvency situation. The completion of the bilateral negotiations with external creditors would not occur before 1941 and 1943, and up to this time Brazil was trying to adjust its arguments to the actual cases confronting it. At the same meeting, discussing exclusively the question of pecuniary claims, the same jurist stated a convenient distinction:
“It is important to add that we consider convenient to establish a distinction between the non payment of public debts and the disruption of ordinary contractual obligations. In the first case, the non compliance with the obligation could be justified by a real and honest financial incapacity, deserving consideration from the external creditors, not only because the Foreign government, in contracting such a lending, did not engage in direct relations with them, but also, especially, because they, in buying the bonds of such a lending, should be aware of the risks incurred by that business. Obviously, this justification shall not apply under a hypothesis of fraud or bad faith of the insolvent government.
“The case with ordinary contractual obligations is different, in the sense that the government, as if it was an individual, engaged in direct relations with known and certain people, and those persons trusted the committed word. This does not imply that the sole non-compliance with the obligation justifies a diplomatic intervention. This should be preceded by the denial of justice, or, at least, by the exhaustion of permitted recourses of the domestic law.” (Trindade, op. cit., period 1919-1940, p. 48.)
In yet another case, of a political nature, the Spanish Civil War, the Brazilian government refused a suggestion to offer collective mediation by the American countries in the conflict between the governmental Republicans and the nationalist rebels. Responding by a diplomatic note to a consultation by the Uruguayan government, the minister of Foreign Affairs stated, in 1936: “The Brazilian government has no desire, whatsoever, to meddle itself in any case in internal conflicts of any foreign country. Besides, in this case, to have a mediation as such, there should be previously a recognition of the belligerent state of the rebels, because the contrary would mean an intervention in the domestic life of Spain”. (Cf. Ministry of Foreign Affairs Report for the year of 1936, Annex A, document 5, p. 33.)

8. The non-intervention as a test case: the bipolar age and the Cuban affair

At the very inception of the contemporary system of international relations, with the creation of the United Nations, Brazil reinforced its juridical attachment to the introduction of the principle of non-intervention as a legally binding obligation of the member States. Reporting on the participation of the Brazilian delegation to the San Francisco conference, in April-June 1945, its head, Ambassador Leão Velloso, stated proudly: “Among the twenty amendments presented by the Brazilian Delegation, one is specially noteworthy, that related to the principle of non-intervention in the internal and external affairs of any country, already consolidated in the Conventions of Montevideo [1928], in the Protocol of Buenos Aires [1933] and in the Lima Declaration [1938]. (…) The Brazilian delegate who presented it at the competent technical committee had the satisfaction to see the adoption of the principle of non-intervention in one of the amendment to the Dumbarton Oaks proposals. In the same manner, we had the pleasure to see the incorporation into the Charter text of the principles that we also upheld and that refer to human rights, to freedom, including freedom of religion, and equality of races and gender”. (Cf. Report of the Brazilian Delegation to United Nations Conference for an International Organization, 1945, p. 14)
This principle would sustain some turbulence in its practical application in later years, arising from the polarization of the world scenario with the Cold War, the growing bellicosity of the Soviet Union and its concrete manifestations in Latin America. From the very start, Brazil was especially cooperative with the United States in the approval of the par excellence instrument of the Cold War in Latin America, that is the Inter-American Treaty on Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), approved at a conference in Petropolis, Rio de Janeiro, in 1947, which would offer the conceptual basis for the signing, two years later, of the Washington treaty creating the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Both of these treaties were founded on the notion of collective security and continental solidarity in case of any attack against any one of the parties of the treaty. The explicit target of both instruments was the Soviet Union and its attempts of subversion in Latin America and Europe, the latter with a more militaristic character.
The real test for Brazil arose at the time of the Cuban affair, even before the dramatic events of the Soviet missiles in the island, in September-October 1962. Very early in the radicalization of the Cuban government and its manifest inclination toward a Socialist model of society, Fidel Castro and Ché Guevara, among other Cuban leaders, started to support guerrilla movements in some Central and South American countries, among them Venezuela – then a perfect democratic State. This provoked the interpellation of the Cuban government at meetings of the Organization of the American States. Already in August 1960, a consultative meeting of the OAS held in Costa Rica approved a resolution against the covert operations and the interference of the Cuban government inside other member States.
Subsequently, accompanying the disastrous invasion of Cuba by anti-Socialist rebels, in April 1961, Fidel Castro declared Cuba’s adherence to the Marxist-Leninist doctrine, and his intention to build up Socialism in the Caribbean island. Shortly afterwards, the Venezuelan government raised the question of Cuban intervention in its internal affairs, but the revelation that Soviet and Chinese weapons were being smuggled through Cuba to those guerrilla groups allowed for the USA to invoke the 1947 assistance treaty, to resist ‘foreign aggression’.
During the discussions held at the extraordinary consultative meeting of American Ministers of Foreign Affairs, in Punta del Este, early in 1962, the Brazilian delegation, at that moment representing a government that was leaning towards a non-aligned position – defined as an ‘independent external policy’ – kept a very legalistic stance in regard to the accusations that the Cuban government and its interference in other countries’ internal affairs represented a menace to the democratic regime and the inter-American system. The process thus evolved towards the consideration of the compatibility of the Cuban regime with the principles and values of the OAS, as written in its foundation charter and also expressed in the Petropolis treaty, this one more concerned with security affairs.
The Brazilian delegation responded to American arguments remarking that the OAS charter did not authorize the expulsion of any member country on grounds that its government was not democratic. The delegation added that it would be better to keep Cuba inside the OAS as a form of pressure. In the end, the U.S. had no clear majority for a winning vote, and the position of the Haitian government had to be reverted to ensure the required number for the expulsion. Technically, in fact, Cuba was not expelled from the OAS: in Punta del Este, the sole decision taken was the ‘suspension’ of its government from the ‘right’ to participate in the meetings and activities of the inter-American organization, a measure recently cancelled unanimously by the member States at the Honduras meeting, in June 2009. Bizarre enough, the Cuban government has never, afterwards, complied with the non-intervention requirements defended so strongly by most of Latin-American countries – since it has continued its support for guerrilla movements in many of those countries – and does not nowadays comply, with the 2001 OAS Democratic Charter, with far tighter requirements to observe, before being again readmitted in the inter-American family.

9. Another test case: intervention in the Dominican Republic, 1965
The political crisis in the Dominican Republic occurred shortly after the military coup that in 1964removed from power Brazilian the president João Goulart, accused of sympathy for Communism. The coup installed a military regime, with the active support and the empathy of the U.S. government. Brazilian involvement – and the sending of troops in 1965, formally under the banner of the OAS, (approved in accordance with provisions of the Reciprocal Assistance Treaty of 1947) in an internal conflict in which Brazil had no interest whatsoever, can thus be seen as a kind of political payoff for the American engagement in favor of the Brazilian military in 1964.
As the American initiative took place – allegedly to rescue American citizens and other foreigners caught in the middle of a civil war in the Dominican Republic, but soon, in fact, aimed to guarantee the victory of their political allies in the violent conflict that followed a coup d’état against an elected social-democratic president. Only two other dictatorships joined the U.S. in the decision to send troops to calm down the social unrest and the political strife and to try to reestablish normalcy in the eastern half of the Hispaniola: Paraguay and Haiti. All other countries, among them Chile, Mexico and Uruguay, condemned the interference, in fact the violation committed by the U.S. government, of inter-American treaties and protocols.
Indeed, not only had the US violated the non-intervention clause of the OAS charter, but also they actually disembarked their first troops without ever consulting or even informing the OAS: they knew, of course, that the OAS would not endorse their action and therefore preferred to impose a fait accompli. What other countries chose to do, among them Brazil, was to offer a political solution to save the face of the U.S. government and engage a compromise solution under the banner of a multilateral peacekeeping force.
Thus, what started as a unilateral American intervention had to be transformed into a regional peacekeeping action. In May 1965, OAS Council approved the formation of an inter-American peace force consisting of U.S. forces already present in the field, and providing logistical support for Latin troops sent to replace them. In the end, military contingents from six Latin American nations, among them Brazil, joined the Inter-American Peace Force in partial replacement of American troops (other countries were: Honduras, Paraguay, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Costa Rica). Brazil contributed the largest Latin contingent, an entire infantry battalion (1,130 men) and was the only Latin nation to provide its own logistical support. One year later, an OAS Meeting of Foreign Ministers called for the gradual withdrawal of its only-ever peace force. (Cf. Major Lawrence M. Greenberg, U.S. Army, “The 1965 U.S. Dominican Intervention”, Naval Historical Center, 24 February 2003; available at: http://www.history.navy.mil/colloquia/cch2d.htm.)
The initiative of the Brazilian military government to participate in the American intervention constituted, of course, a political endorsement for U.S. unilateralism, and, besides that, a clear breach in the more than a century-old juridical traditions of Brazilian diplomacy. For the first time in a century, since the end of the so-called war of the Triple Alliance – when Brazil aligned forces with Argentina and Uruguay to respond to military attacks to its territory, started by the Paraguayan dictator Solano Lopez after Brazil’s meddling into Uruguayan internal affairs – Brazil abandoned its natural reluctance to intervene in its neighbors’ domestic politics and exhibited a limited exercise of big power politics. The Dominican intervention would not been the sole example of Brazil’s negation of its own doctrine, even if it was the only time that Brazil served another country’s interests, in this instance the U.S.
The American decision to resort again to military intervention in Latin America gravely damaged the political scenario across the Hemisphere: US unilateral interference in internal affairs of Latin countries destroyed whatever gains provided earlier by Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy and, in the more recent past, John Kennedy’s Alliance for Progress. Needless to say that Latin American countries were confirmed in their worst fears concerning unilateral intervention by the U.S. in the region, a situation that would be repeated, later, in Chile (1973), in Grenada (1983) and in Panama (1989), during Nixon’s, Reagan’s and Bush father’s mandates respectively, the first two due to alleged Communist threats, the third owing to drug-trafficking.

10. Contemporary manifestations of Brazil’s conceptions on non-intervention
At the height of the military regime (1964-85), Brazil continued to proclaim, in international and regional fora, its staunch attachment to the principles of non-intervention and self-determination, especially when questioned over some gestures made by the same military regime in direction of progressive governments in the region, for instance in Bolivia and Chile: the political and logistical support for the coup against the Allende government, in 1973 was surely the most dramatic of the series. Indeed, Brazil seconded the U.S. government in the covert actions that led to the violent toppling of the Chilean Socialist president, but did not hesitate to take first roles in the case of leftist developments in neighboring countries, such as Bolivia (the coup against leftist general Torres) and Uruguay (just to embark political refugees).
The Condor Operation files, being gradually released through the US Freedom of Information Act by the National Security Archives, of George Washington University, carry some documentation related to Brazilian involvement in military coups and covert actions against leftist militants in the Southern Cone. Thus, the ritual proclamation of official adhesion to those principles was just for diplomatic consumption, as in practice they were deliberately ignored under the circumstances of the ‘dirty war’ against oppositionists. Of course, Brazil did not countenance savage executions on such a grand scale as those carried out by the Chilean and Argentine dictatorships, but the cross-border operations conducted all around the Southern Cone, at the heaviest times of the political repression, made a mockery of those principles.
Conversely, when called into question over human rights affairs and other political matters deemed sensitive by the military, the regime reacted angrily and dismissively, automatically invoking the same principles that it was eventually infringing with its iron-hand diplomacy in the Southern Cone. That was the case when the U.S. government presented a report on human rights and the democratic situation in Brazil in 1977, a requirement that the U.S. Congress instructed the American executive branch to publish each year, in connection with US military assistance abroad. The Brazilian foreign ministry issued a note in March 1997, rejecting the US document, stating that it “constituted a violation to the principle of non-interference, which both governments subscribed to, in signing the UN and the OAS charters”. On the same date, the Brazilian government informed that of the U.S. that Brazil was denouncing the bilateral treaty on military assistance and refusing the inclusion of Brazil in that program. (Cf. Trindade, Repertório da Prática Brasileira… Período 1961-1981. Brasilia: Fundação Alexandre de Gusmão, 1984, p. 72-73).

Following re-democratization, which started in 1985, Brazil returned to a more traditional line in respect of the principle of non-intervention, adjusting the practice to the old doctrine. Brazil joined most of the UN or regional conventions and instruments on human rights and humanitarian affairs, accepted the jurisdiction of the San José Court, and, most importantly, for a country so jealous of its sovereign rights and national jurisdiction, adhered to the International Criminal Court of The Hague (Rome Statute). In a certain sense, there was no innovation regarding the interpretation and use of the concepts, which corresponded to a strictly legalistic acceptance and enforcement of their substantive content.

Nevertheless, more recently, starting with the government of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (2003-2010), Brazil engaged in a new concept of non-intervention, still a basic ‘principle’ of Brazilian diplomacy, but coupling it with an ‘attitude of non-indifference’. This was explicitly stated in connection with regional diplomacy, but was said to be valid also for other ‘southern partners’. As declared by president Lula in a conference held in Beijing, during a state visit in 2004, “the growing closeness and consolidation of Brazilian relations within the region call attention to the instabilities within the countries of the continent, and require a more attentive follow-up by the Brazilian government, which is guided by the principle of non-intervention, but also by a stance of ‘non-indifference’” (Lecture at the University of Beijing, May 25, 2004; In: Ministério das Relações Exteriores, Secretaria de Planejamento Diplomático, Repertório de Política Externa: Posições do Brasil. Brasília: Funag, 2007, p. 19). Again, in his inaugural speech at the UN General Assembly in the same year, Lula declared that “we do not believe in interference in the internal affairs of other countries, but neither do we retract in omission or indifference in face of the problems that affect our neighbors.” (Speech at 59-UNGA, New York; idem, loc. cit.).
The explicit postures of the minister of Foreign Affairs, Celso Amorim, went along the same line in his inauguration speech of January 2003, when he declared: “We shall respect, zealously, the principle of non-intervention, in the same way that we will control its respect by other countries. But we shall not refrain from giving give our contribution to the solution of conflictive situations, whenever invited to do so, and when we consider that we could play a useful role, taking into account the primacy of democracy and constitutional legality.” (Amorim speech, January 1st, 2003; ibidem, p. 40)
In the ‘Strategic Guidelines’ for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs”, inserted in the National Multi-annual Plan (PPA) for 2008-2011, it is stated that Brazil, in connection with its regional integration policy, “fully respects the choices of its neighbors and does not interfere with the sovereign right of other countries to find solutions for their problems. It stands available, in the same way, to cooperate with friendly countries confronting situations of political or social crises, whenever it is called to do so and in accordance with its possibilities.” (Document from May 4, 2007; ibidem, p. 42).

In fact, confirming that the use or application of that principle is essentially political, Brazilian leaders, starting with the president himself, have often intervened in the internal affairs of other states by proclaiming their preferences in electoral disputes and choices in economic policies. Even before the inauguration of the newly- elected Lula government, at the end of 2002, Workers’ Party (PT) leaders forced the incumbent government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso to come to rescue president Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, then at grips with a national strike touching especially the state oil company, PDVSA, ordering Petrobras to supply gasoline and other products to the embattled Bolivarian leader. A few months after taking office, president Lula openly stated its support for Nestor Kirchner, one of the candidates in the Argentine presidential elections in May 2003. He again declared his preferences for certain “progressive” candidates in the elections in Chile, Uruguay and Bolivia, and even in France, not to mention the reiterated support to Chávez in every plebiscite or electoral consultation called by the Venezuelan colonel. In the same manner, Lula has no qualms in recognizing that his international advisor, an apparatchik of the Workers’ Party, has as one of his main tasks to establish relations ‘with progressive’ and leftist parties of the region: in fact, the same official is one of the founding fathers of the Forum of São Paulo, a coordinating mechanism for the Latin American leftist parties, intimately linked to the Cuban leaders and their policies.
One of the last ‘interferences’ in the internal affairs of other countries was Lula’s open and rapid endorsement of the obvious rigged election of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Shortly after that, he ordered the Brazilian diplomacy to act decisively in favor of the deposed president of Honduras, Manuel Zelaya, and in the formation of a political blockade against the interim government that took power after a political crisis in the Central American country. Other examples abound about the political, and somewhat arbitrary use of the concept of non-intervention by current Brazilian diplomacy, starting with the civil war in Colombia and the Brazilian refusal to condemn the FARC’s resort to terrorist tactics in the Andean country. The Colombian military attacks to a FARC refuge site in the borderland with Ecuador was severely condemned by the Brazilian government, but not so the logistical support given by Venezuela and Ecuador officials to the guerrilla group.

In the end, non-intervention continues to be a political concept wrapped in juridical terms, but mistakenly considered as a pure expression of the most binding principles of international relations. Most countries pay lip service to the concept, at the same time as they seek to influence (in a mild manner) or to determine (in an old imperialistic fashion) the internal affairs of other countries, so as to gain some type of political or economic advantages. In the case of Brazil, despite a continuing formal adherence to the principle, its invocation and use has been thoroughly political and selective. Nothing really new under the sun…


Resumo: Desde a inaguração do Estado nacional e a consolidação da diplomacia profissional, no início do século 19, o Brasil aderiu de maneira consistente à doutrina da não-intervenção, bem como à cláusula de autodeterminação. Estes são dois dois princípios mais duradouros defendidos pelos países latino-americanos, face não apenas a ameaças supostas ou reais de países europeus em seus assuntos internos, countries e de intervenções reais,a ramadas ou diplomaticas, dos EUA, contra seus vizinhos imediatos da América Central e do Caribe. A despeito disso, Brasil foi seja vítima ou perpetrador de violações desses princípios, tendo sido sujeito a abusos por parte da Grã-Bretanha em relação ao tráfico escravo. De fato, o Brasil também cometeu intervenções nos assuntos internos de seus vizinhos, incluindo a Argentina, o Uruguai e o Paraguai. Durante a maior parte do século 20, o Brasil foi um forte defensor dos princípios da soberania nacional e da não-intervenção, assim como da igualdade absoluta de todas as nações, como definido por sua delegação na Segunda Conferência da Paz da Haia (1907). Mas o Brasil também se envolveu, tanto voluntariamente como involuntariamente, em alguns casos paradigmáticos na região, como na expulsão de Cuba da OEA devido ao apoio da ilha a movimentos guerrilheiros em países vizinhos. Mais ainda, o Brasil também participou da intervenção armada dos EUA na República Dominicana (1965) e, recentemente, no caso da missão de estabilização da ONU no Haiti (Minustah), que alguns consideram uma interferência. Finalmente, iniciativas deplomáticas recentes do Brasil em direção a países pobres têm sido identificadas ao conceito de ‘não-indiferença’, considerado um complemento inverso ao princípio de não-intervenção. Uma avaliação final é que a não-intervenção pode ser um conceito jurídico, mas seu uso efetivo tem sido seletivo e altamente politico.
Palavras chave: Não-intervenção. Brasil. Assuntos Inter-Americanos. Soberania.

2 comentários:

Adriana disse...

Bastante interessante o artigo, principalmente no contexto atual, com a controversa posicao do governo brasileiro em relacao a "responsibility to protect" X "responsibility while protecting".

O Sr. considera a posicao brasileira atual de nao-intervencao perante a situacao na Libia e Siria, defendida pela Pres. Dilma, como tendo raizes em uma tradicao historica de nao-intervencao, ou em uma doutrina originaria no pensamento Petista (ou "Dilmista")?

Obrigada.

Adriana (Ottawa, Canada)

Paulo R. de Almeida disse...

Adriana,
O Brasil sempre foi juridicamente, bacharelescamente, tradicionalmente não-intervencionista, sempre.
Até chegarem os companheiros, que começaram a interferir nos assuntos internos dos outros países com base em simpatias partidárias.
Lula apoiou diretamente todos os candidatos que ele considerava de esquerda ou progressistas nas eleições dos países vizinhos, o que é um escândalo.
No caso do Irã, da Líbia, da Síria, mas também em casos de violações dos direitos humanos, em Cuba, na China, no Mianmar, na Coréia do Norte, e em casos de flagrantes atentados aos direitos democráticos, os companheiros não hesitaram em ficar do lado das piores ditaduras, e isso é romper as tradições do Itamaraty, que por postura legalista, ou hipocrisia, se abstinha em todas essas questões, por não querer politizar ou não pretender se imiscuir nos assuntos internos dos outros países.
A diplomacia do PT se colocou do lado dos violadores, dos ditadores.
O pior caso, obviamente, não coberto pelo meu artigo, que é anterior, foi o de Honduras, onde o governo do PT violou não só a Constituição do Brasil, mas tratados internacionais e compromissos nossos, interferindo diretamente nos assuntos internos do país.
Uma vergonha.
A responsability while protecting é um disfarce cômodo para justificar a não tomada de posição.
Paulo Roberto de Almeida