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Civic Action in Brazil

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Brazil Civic Action

With the possible exception of military officers in Peru, the officers in Brazil have been the most involved in civic action in South America. To a certain extent, the civic-action role has been appropriated because the officers consider themselves responsible for the guidance and development of the nation. Civic action is not a new role for the armed forces. Under Vargas the army, which felt responsible for helping modernize the country through a more elaborate infrastructure, was involved in development and reconstruction projects. Construction battalions built roads and railroads in the interior of the country. Officers were placed in high positions within state enterprises such as the Volta Redonda steel plant and the Brazilian Petroleum Corporation (Petróleo Brasileiro S.A.--Petrobrás), the petroleum monopoly. The air force and navy were involved in transport to remote areas, and in health care assistance to those regions. As Professor Fleischer notes, "This new mission reinforced the doctrine of industrial development as a basis for national strength and security and the positivist ideology of a technocratic scientific approach to national problems."

In the early 1980s, the army was again extensively involved in civic-action projects, such as building roads in the Northeast and a railroad in Paraná State. Despite the reluctance of some officers to embrace such a role, cutbacks in defense funding make civic-action programs attractive.

Data as of April 1997



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