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Although most military clashes of World War II had occurred in Europe, leaving a large trail of destruction, the great protagonist and leader of the Allies in World War II was the United States. The great influence the country already had on Latin America and the world before the war became stronger and more determined after the war with the Allied victory. North Americans sought, using the most varied means, to spread their ideal of freedom and prosperity, as well as their democratic values and the capitalist economic policy, especially expressed in the second sentence of the Declaration of Independence of theUnited States: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” With the end of World War II and the beginning of the Cold War, foreign policy adopted by the U. S. government was to give financial support to capitalist countries, seeking to contain the expansion of Soviet socialism. The expansion plans of American imperialism included credit to capitalist countries, thus creating an anti-Soviet colonialism. The American economy imposed certain fear in the smaller countries, generating economic and political dependence, while also putting pressure on the Soviet Union.

Brazil was one of the Latin American countries that experienced the most U. S. influence. The similarities in the histories of both countries, and the great interest of the United States in Brazil as a strong candidate to political leadership in Latin America, created an environment conducive to this approach. Beserra comments on the fact that citizens of the United States have for many years referred to themselves as “Americans,” which in reality is a name that applies to all of those living in either North, South, or Central America. Yet, the intuitive designation of “Americans” for U. S. citizens indicates that they predicted U. S. hegemony on the continent. Beserra writes,

Brazil and the United States are the realizations of very different and historically opposed ideologies and ways of life. Whereas the United States was created as an overseas extension of a particular Anglo-Saxon dream, Brazil was created as an extension of Portuguese overseas projects. Taking in consideration size and history, including the experience of slavery, Brazil is among other Latin-American countries the one that most resembles the United States. However, it is not only because of a historical resemblance that the United States has become one of the most important references for Brazil. As a matter of fact, since the end of World War II the United States has become a reference for the world, and any comparison between the two countries must take this into consideration. The hegemony of the United States in the American hemisphere, however, precedes by far the period of World War II. Americans must have anticipated their dominion over the continent from when they intuitively started to designate themselves by the same adjective that refers to any citizen of the American Continent.[1]

The uncontested American hegemony transformed the continent into a big capitalist-democratic bloc. Despite some attempts of totalitarian governments, the United States, with the support of the Roman Catholic Church, dominant in the absolute majority of the Latin countries, always guaranteed the return to democracy. The Second Vatican Council, as the meeting became known, met on October 11, 1962, and the decisions made there led to radical changes regarding the direction the Church would take. Some of these decisions were extremely important for strengthening the capitalist democracy of the American ideals. Judt asserts that these decisions of Catholic Council were a significant support to the American ideals, mostly in Latin America: “The pronouncements of the Second Vatican Council made it clear that the Church was no longer frightened by change and challenge, was not an opponent of liberal democracy, mixed economies, modern science, rational thought and even secular politics. The first—very tentative—steps were taken towards reconciliation with other Christian denominations and there was some (not much) acknowledgement of the Church’s responsibility to discourage anti-Semitism by re-casting its longstanding account of Jewish responsibility for the death of Jesus. Above all, the Catholic Church could no longer be counted upon to support authoritarian regimes—quite the contrary: in Asia, Africa, and especially Latin America, it was at least as likely to be on the side of their opponents”.[2]

[1] Beserra, Brazilian Immigrants in the United States, 11.

[2] Tony Judt, Postwar: A History of Europe since 1945 (London: Penguin Publishing Group, 2005), 8773-8778, Kindle.