On Dec. 6, 1976, former Brazilian President João Goulart, popularly known as "Jango," passed away at 57 years old in his exile with family in Mercedes, Argentina. Officially, he died of a cardiac attack, but evidence points to poisoning.
"There are still some available tissue samples at the Federal Police Criminal Institute of Brazil for a new investigation, as new evidence is expected if we can have more documents declassified and testimonies that would bring new information," João Vicente Goulart, Jango's son told teleSUR.
"In the first results analyzed, a substance appeared in tiny amounts which should not be in a human body, called pentaerythritol tetranitrate or erythrin tetranitrate, also known as pentrite," said Goulart. "It is a chemical with characteristics and end of explosives that, at the time, was only controlled as an exclusive weapon used by the American army," added Jango's son, pointing out that secret agents used to infiltrate the family's house in exile.
"It has been proven that spies removed my father's documents, they could have easily changed his heart medicine for a poison."
Jango's body did not undergo an autopsy at the time of his death. His body was buried in São Borja, Brazil, after the assurance that the coffin would not be opened. According to Goulart, "There was severe military repression at my father's funeral." There were military officials everywhere, monitoring Jango's coffin so it could not be opened. In 2006, Mario Neira, a former Uruguayan secret agent, told Goulart that his father had been poisoned.
Overthrown from the Brazilian presidency by a military coup d'état on April 1, 1964, the democratically-elected João Goulart, with more than 70 percent of an approval rating, was exiled three days later with family to Uruguay. In 1973, President Juan Domingo Peron welcomed him. The Goularts were constantly threatened in exile, so the son, João Vicente and Denize, the Goularts' daughter, left to study in London. Some friends warned former president Jango several times, that he could be killed.
On March 13, 1964, 18 days before the coup, President João Goulart gave a speech to more than 200,000 people in Central do Brasil square in Rio de Janeiro, with his wife Maria Theresa Goulart beside him, for the first time since assuming the presidency. He promised an agrarian reform, reducing remittances of profits overseas, extending democratic rights, along with other very popular reforms.
"Goulart committed the crime of reforming the economy. That was more than (U.S. President) Lyndon Johnson could tolerate and he opted to destabilize the economy and assist a right-wing military takeover," said the U.S. historian Peter Kuznick to teleSUR.
"The 1964 coup that toppled Goulart's government was extremely significant," added Kuznick. "Oliver Stone and I began our documentary about the invasion of Vietnam with a discussion of that coup. We then talk about the Dominican Republic, Greece, Indonesia, and Chile to show that the Vietnam War was part of a pattern.
"A National Intelligence Estimate in the summer of 1963 had warned that Goulart might be establishing 'an extreme leftist regime, with a strongly anti-U.S. character.' Johnson's appointment in December of Thomas Mann as assistant secretary of state to coordinate Latin American affairs was another nail in the Goulart government's coffin.
"When Goulart responded the next year to U.S. demands to impose austerity on the Brazilian people by instead offering land reform and control of foreign capital and by recognizing Cuba, the U.S. moved quickly to destabilize the economy. Goulart seized U.S. properties.
"Ambassador Lincoln Gordon and U.S. embassy officials urged right-wing Brazilian officers to overthrow Goulart. The U.S. backed Army Chief of Staff General Humberto Castelo Branco. The CIA assisted behind the scenes," observed Kuznick, who is the director of the Institute of Nuclear Studies at the American University.
The Brazilian historian Victor Schincariol told teleSUR that in order to preserve national peace and people's security, President Jango didn't call for a military intervention to protect him. "Goulart was genuinely committed to democracy and social peace. He said that he could not tolerate the death of Brazilians in a virtual civil war.
"At the same time, he knew that the U.S. would support the right-wing forces, which would make the case for the defense of democracy very hard indeed to win," added the Brazilian researcher at the University of ABC in São Paulo.
On Dec. 18, in the presence of the heads of the military and President Dilma Rousseff, the Brazilian Congress symbolically returned President João Goulart's mandate, as the OAS exhorted Brazil in 2010 for the crimes against humanity never punished, committed by the military dictatorship that killed 475 people, left 144 "disappeared," and tortured more than 30,000 people.
There is an Amnesty Act in Brazil, elaborated and passed in 1979 by Brazilian military officials themselves — never addressed in the country by politicians, mainstream media and local elites — that acquits the dictators of the crimes committed between 1964 and 1985.
"Goulart's and Varga's legacy was erased, physically and ideologically, by the military dictatorship between 1964-1985. The economy was "globalized;" the case for an industrialization with national capitals, social justice and national independence was substituted by dependence, fascist policies and censorship; the democratic and left-wing forces were imprisoned, killed or left the nation," said Professor Doctor Schincariol.
"The most important legacy Jango left to Brazil was his tireless fight for workers' right and social justice," Jango's widow, Maria Theresa Goulart told teleSUR. "And for us, his family, his generosity and partnership."