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By Sonny B. Davis

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The December 7, 1941, Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II provided the catalyst that hardened military ties. Following the bombing military leaders in Brazil and the United States seemed to be in the grips of hysteria, especially after Germany and Italy declared war on the United States. So great were the fears that the military commander in Recife signaled President Vargas that air and sea attacks could be expected at any moment. 44 The apparent threat of an attack on the vulnerable southern flank caused Washington to increase pressure on Brazil for concessions.

Sphere might not have been as psychologically difficult as might be imagined, for Brazilian society was a paternalistic one in which patron-client relationships dominated. In allying with the United States, especially militarily, Brazil shed its old European patron for a new American benefactor. The evolution of a closer relationship proceeded slowly until Nazi successes in Europe in late 1939 created a sense of urgency. Brazilian and American diplomats and military officials worked to prepare for expected entry into the conflagration engulfing the Old World and the Far East.

Before much matériel could be transferred, the United States entered the war, and the two countries modified the agreement. The modification doubled the amount of the 1941 deal and provided for the sale of military goods to Brazil at a sixty-five percent discount. The new arrangement played a large Page 15 part in moving the two countries closer; it allayed the fears of Brazilian officers who had earlier argued against an alliance with the United States. 4 million, of the matériel sent to Latin America under the program.

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