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Sun Mar 17, 2013, 10:31 PM


The Day That Lasted 21 Years

Excellent archive documentary examines local factors, and U.S. complicity, that turned Brazil into a military dictatorship.

The U.S. foreign policy of “regime change” is nothing new, as this gripping documentary demonstrates. Drawing on recently declassified White House files, The Day That Lasted 21 Years revisits the right-wing military coup that ousted Brazil’s democratically elected, left-leaning, Kennedy-style President João “Jango” Goulart from office in March 1964. Goulart’s fatal error was in being too friendly to Communist China and Cuba, as well as seeking to reform land rights and extract higher taxes from US companies. The result: he was overthrown, allowing a string of brutal dictators to rule Latin America’s largest nation for the next two decades.

Director Camilo Tavares presents this stark history lesson in a no-frills, televisual style, so he is fortunate to have so many colorful characters and such a juicy spy-movie plot to sweep him along. While the broad framework of events may be familiar to casual students of U.S. and Brazilian history, The Day That Lasted 21 Years fills in the canvas with plenty of absorbing detail. Further festival interest seems likely, though the film’s most obvious outlet outside domestic markets is sure to be on the small screen.

The twists and turns of the plot against Goulart play like a vintage Graham Greene or John LeCarre yarn. It comes as no surprise that Machiavellian US ambassador Lincoln Gordon was lobbying his Washington paymasters for the coup, even while he sipped cocktails with the Brazilian President, nor that the CIA were stirring up dissent by funding virulently anti-Goulart groups. When the crunch came, a US Navy task force was even parked offshore on “routine” manoeuvres in case the generals required extra muscle.

In the event, Goulart conceded defeat within hours and fled across the border without need for direct foreign intervention. So while anti-American conspiracy theorists will find much to savor here, including scratchy vintage audio of both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson appearing to endorse regime change, they may also be disappointed that the coup plotters also had ample domestic support among all sections of Brazilian society.

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ocpagu Mar 2013 OP
Judi Lynn Mar 2013 #1

Response to ocpagu (Original post)

Mon Mar 18, 2013, 04:44 AM

1. Thank you for the news this film is out now.

I'm going to be watching, checking internet sources to find out more as time passes, looking for my chance to see it.

To get this much information available in one place is outstanding. U.S. Americans have been COMPLETELY ignorant about what happened there, and U.S. responsibility.

There are obviously a small number of US Americans who do know, but the vast majority, as always, have had no clue at all, never even heard a word about it.

Hope this film can penetrate the darkness, shine a light for those of us who have been deliberately misled all these years.

It IS the right thing to do.

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