Clinton St. Quarterly, Vol. 3 No. 2 Summer 1981

follow. It was a dress rehearsal for the much bloodier Chilean affair in 1973. Investment security was ensured by a very repressive counter-insurgency apparatus: Brazil became a testing ground for vicious torture techniques, and out-ofuniform police death squads disposed of those people the military’s court system dealt with too leniently. The popular resistance struggled on for a number of years, but the bonzinhos—good little people—who filled the burgeoning bureaucracies, the industrial working class and the passive peasantry who comprised the backbone of the Vargas-Goulart forces, did not rise to the occasion. The intelligentsia was dubbed the esquerda festiva—festive left espousing radical politics while living a life rooted in bourgeois hedonism. All political parties were liquidated, and two synthetic parties were established to create the facsimile of democracy. Brazilians joked that one said “Yes!” and the other “Yes, Sir!” Three months after the generals’ coup, the government had intervened in more than 450 unions, purging “suspicious elements” in their leadership. The American Institute for Free Labor Development (AIFLD), a branch of the U.S. foreign policy team linked to the AFL-CIO, an advocate of “business unionism,” trained many new leaders in the U.S. just prior to Goulart’s fall. The executive director of the AIFLD, William Doherty, bragged that the “Brazilian trade unions are enjoying a freedom never seen under Goulart.” The climate of freedom that Mr. Doherty applauded was equally afforded the media. The relatively conservative Inter-American Press Association reported in 1973 that Brazil had “no press freedom whatsoever.” Even publications of imaginative work was curbed and the once promising Cinema Novo with its themes of social protest and often surrealist style simply became history. Five presidents have succeeded one another since 1964, all generals, with one, in what is now the world’s most populous Catholic country, a Presbyterian. By some measures, their revolution has been a smash, until recently. With investment security ensured, U.S. aid and investment from throughout the western world poured in. Inflation was brought under control and the economy spurted. Between 1968 and 1973, the Brazilian economy grew by 10% a year in real terms. It was the widely hailed “economic miracle.” PROSPERITY KNOCKS BET ONCE SOME COULD handily claim that they had never had it so good. In Sao Paulo and Belo Horizonte, capital of the mineral-rich Minas Gerais state, where Brazil’s headiest capitalists resided, a “factory a day” was opened and countless skyscrapers shot into the sky. And drawing on the bandeirante tradition, these investors and thousands of prospectors and settlers joined the state-owned corporations and the multinationals in opening up the interior and finally the Amazon basin itself. The region contains over a twentieth of the planet’s land area, a fifth of its water and a third of its forests. Still by 1972, the Amazon was contributing only 4% to the nation’s GNP. The capitalists were ready. Immediately following the “revolution,” laws that had required government control of Brazil’s mineral resources and limited their exploitation to Brazilian companies were reversed. And new legislation was passed as needed to encourage operations on the scale chosen by the conglomerates. Hannah Mining, U.S, Steel, the German Thyssen group, the Patino Tin Syndicate, to name a few, joined their Brazilian colleagues in opening up a number of mining projects. The state-owned Companhia Vale do Rio Doce merged its borrowing power and political sway with the multinationals on the largest projects. A major stumbling block to earlier development had been the lack of a transportation network other than the Amazon itself. Yet in only four years in the early ’70s, three major highway projects covering thousands of miles were begun and completed by the Brazilian National Highway Department. More than $400 million in loans from the InterAmerican Development and World Banks set in gear the massive earthmoving equipment that literally moved mountains overnight. In conjunction with the highway project, Litton Industries conducted an extensive aerial and satellite mapping project which revealed an immense bounty of heretofore unknown mineral deposits. Those findings were coupled with the discoveries of thousands of prospectors who surged across the Amazon. Fabulous quantities of iron, bauxite, tin, gold and uranium were unearthed, with mineral claims jumping from 2,000 in 1968 to more than 20,000 in 1975. Other corporations have begun large scale timber, cattle and agricultural ventures with the blessing of the generals, many of whom have suddenly developed a financial stake in those projects’ success. Jose Lutzenburger, Brazil’s leading environmentalist, calls them “the mafia”—“henchmen for multinational business.” The entire array of Western technology (large tractors dragging cables in tandem across the jungle floor, 2,4,5-T, 2,4-D, Agent Orange and fire) are used to clear vast tracts. According to Marvick Kleer of the University of Riberao Preto, “in the past ten years more than 24% of the Amazon has been destroyed by the reckless felling of trees.” Some of the cleared areas are already turning into desert. Because of the fragility of the soil base, erosion begins immediately once the land is cleared, and though the first two crop cycles are often good, within five years the soils can no longer hold water and often are reduced to impermeable lateritic sandstone, the substance underlying most of the Amazon. Harold Sioli of the Max Planck Institute of Limnology in West Germany claims “the Amazon is more delicate than any other natural area of the world.” Sioli’s studies indicate that currently the Amazon Basin produces roughly 50% of the oxygen added to the earth’s atmosphere annually. The burning of the Amazon rain forest, he warned, would send vast quantities of stored carbon into the air, and have unpredictable but drastic effects on the earth’s temperature. From a planetary point of view, he claimed, continuance of such deforestation could only be suicidal in its effects. CARRY ON BOYS THOUGH scientists and environmentalists may howl, a government JR, in power by force of arms has only to listen to its conscience and examine its checkbook. And since the timber reserves of Africa and South Asia are soon to be exhausted and as world beef prices have risen to profitable heights, the Brazilian profitable heights, the Brazilian government has proffered both fiscal and tax incentives to promote large scale investment in timber and cattle operations. Both experienced hands (the King Ranch of Texas, Georgia-Pacific of Oregon) and babes-in-the-woods (Volkswagen, Liquigas—the Italian industrial chemical firm) have followed their financial noses. Their strategies draw heavily on experience in different fields and different climates. Volkswagen, with enormous profits derived from its virtual dominance of Brazil’s domestic automobile market, has invested heavily in land and cattle. While I was there, a Brazilian acquaintance claimed the fire Volkswagen set to clear one tract of land “was the only man-made phenomenon visible to the Apollo astronauts as they circled the earth.” Liquigas, according to Fortune magazine, plans to build an airstrip on their cattle ranch big enough to land chartered jets. “The company will slaughter on the ranch, package the meat in supermarket cuts with the price stamped in lire, and fly it direct to Italy letting nature do the chilling job at 30,000 feet.” While you digest your flash-frozen flank steak, consider the possibilities of “sustained yield” forestry on this fragile world. Highly debatable in our temperate zone, sustained yield assumes the Amazon rain forest is a renewable resource, which is foolhardy and untrue. Georgia-Pacific’s cut-and-run philosophy is well suited to a partnership with the generals. Arriving relatively late on the Oregon timber scene and frequently criticized for not following sustained yield practices, G-P closed out its hardwood plant operatons in Coos Bay last October and next year will return to its “home office” in Atlanta. The greenbacks they’ve been cutting from our soil all these years are winging their way south never to return. Like many U.S. corporations, Georgia-Pacific finds it easier to export its earnings to a repressive third world haven than to make long-term investments on American soil. Ask those people in Coos Bay who are now looking for work. Like many U.S. corporations, Georgia-Pacific finds it easier to export its earnings to a repressive third world haven, than to make long-term investments on American soil. THE MAD BARON THE LEADER of the pack, with a development that far overshadows A his “competitors,” is Daniel Keith Ludwig, an American enterpreneur whose 3.5 million-acre Jari estate was purchased in 1967 for only $3 million from a Brazilian rubber trader. Jari is the size of Connecticut, the largest private holding in the Western Hemisphere. Ludwig has been accused variously of deforesting more than 6,000 square miles of jungles, of flying out gold, uranium and Clinton St. Quarterly 7