Opinion

Narrow self-interest, not political program, characterizes Brazil’s military

Though the military has ruled directly at times during Brazil’s history, the common thread is its drive for respect, prestige, and higher salaries — and this remains true today

Narrow self-interest, not political program, characterizes Brazil’s military armed forces
Military training next to Brasília. Photo: Marcos Corrêa/PR

Brazilian military men have never lacked confidence — that they could deliver stability, economic progress, and modernization, all nominally in the national interest. The history of the military’s political interventions, however, is marked by self-interest. 

Consider the army’s first foray into government. 

Following the devastation of the Paraguayan War, the military brass was not satisfied with a return to the antebellum status quo, characterized by poor remuneration and substandard equipment. Seeking a more prominent role in national affairs, in 1889 the military put an end to the monarchical system that had been in place for over 70 years and...

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