In 1964, Brazil’s democratically elected, left-wing government was ousted in a coup and replaced by a military junta. The Johnson administration quickly recognized the new government. The U.S. press and members of Congress were nearly unanimous in their support of the “revolution” and the coup leaders’ anticommunist agenda. Few Americans were aware of the human rights abuses perpetrated by Brazil’s new regime. By 1969, a small group of academics, clergy, Brazilian exiles, and political activists had begun to educate the American public about the violent repression in Brazil and mobilize opposition to the dictatorship. By 1974, most informed political activists in the United States associated the Brazilian government with its torture chambers. In We Cannot Remain Silent
, James N. Green analyzes the U.S. grassroots activities against torture in Brazil, and the ways those efforts helped to create a new discourse about human-rights violations in Latin America. He explains how the campaign against Brazil’s dictatorship laid the groundwork for subsequent U.S. movements against human rights abuses in Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, and Central America.
Green interviewed many of the activists who educated journalists, government officials, and the public about the abuses taking place under the Brazilian dictatorship. Drawing on those interviews and archival research from Brazil and the United States, he describes the creation of a network of activists with international connections, the documentation of systematic torture and repression, and the cultivation of Congressional allies and the press. Those efforts helped to expose the terror of the dictatorship and undermine U.S. support for the regime. Against the background of the political and social changes of the 1960s and 1970s, Green tells the story of a decentralized, international grassroots movement that effectively challenged U.S. foreign policy.