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10,000 American Documents on Brazilian Dictatorship Published Online

03/27/2014 - 09h25

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FABIANO MAISONNAVE
FROM SÃO PAULO

In 1968, the CIA's assessment was that the "unrest" in Brazilian universities was the fault of "professional students", who studied for years without graduating as a result of poor academic criteria.

In the same year, American diplomats witnessed the great enthusiasm of the business community for the Institutional Act Number Five (widely known by its Portuguese acronym, AI-5), the law which effectively granted the military absolute power during the dictatorship period.

These revelations are just two taken from an archive of 9,872 American documents produced between 1963 and 1977, which are to be published online as part of a new project entitled "Opening the Archives."

The project is a result of a collaboration between Brown University and the State University of Maringá (UEM), in the state of Paraná. Researchers from both institutions have digitalized and indexed material from the State Department and the CIA. Previously, this material had only been accessible through the National Archives in Washington.

Currently, the site has nearly 2,000 documents, which will be freely accessible until April 10. It will then be officially launched as part of a Brown University symposium about the Brazilian military dictatorship.

"The project offers the possibility of a more detailed analysis of the day-to-day contact between the Americans and the Brazilians who took power in 1964," said James Green, a Brown University historian.

"With free access to these documents, it will be possible to see more closely how Washington supported and sometimes criticized the new policies of the Castello Branco, Costa e Silva and Médici administrations."

To convert all this material into digital format, 12 American and Brazilian researchers spent three months in Washington. The project's cost of $75,000 was covered by both institutions.

There are still another 10,000 documents to be digitalized, at an estimated cost of nearly $50,000. However, currently, there is no more funding for the project.

The documents can be accessed at library.brown.edu/openingthearchives

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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