Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

The Hidden Diplomatic History of Argentine-Brazilian Integration: Implications for Historiography and Theory

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Latin American & Caribbean Studies

The Hidden Diplomatic History of Argentine-Brazilian Integration: Implications for Historiography and Theory

Article excerpt

Abstract. Most sources have given the credit for the Argentine-Brazilian Bilateral integration either to the military administrations on the grounds of the diplomatic rapprochement of 1979-1982, or to the newly democratic administrations by virtue of the announcement and formalization of integration in 1985 and 1986 respectively. Fresh primary material, both archival sources and interviews with key players in those events, reveals that the idea of integration was born and discussed between 1983 and 1984, in a situation of regime asymmetry, Argentina having returned to democracy in 1983 and Brazil in 1985. However, democracy proved to be fundamental in the development of negotiations and their finalization. Implications for historians may be quite straightforward. Theorists of democratic peace and cooperation may have to temper certain results emerging from essentially statistical exercises with the qualitative analysis the historicist method provides for a correct assessment of the significance of regularities and exceptions.

Resume. La plupart des sources ont attribue l'integration bilaterale de l'Argentine et du Bresil soit aux administrations militaires, en se basant sur le rapprochement diplomatique de 1979-1982, soit aux administrations nouvellement democratiques, en vertu de la declaration et la formalisation de l'integration de 1985 et 1986 respectivement. Des sources primaires fraiches, issues d'archives et d'entrevues avec des acteurs cles, revelent que l'idee d'integration naquit et fut discutee entre 1983 et 1984, dans une situation de regimes asymetrique, puisque l'Argentine est redevient democratique en 1983 et le Bresil en 1985. Neanmoins, la democratie a ete fondamentale dans le processus de developpement des negociations et lors de leur finalisation. Les implications pour les historiens devraient etre assez claires. Les theoriciens de la paix diplomatique et la cooperation pourraient devoir mitiger certains resultats emergeant d'exercices essentiellement statistiques avec l'analyse qualitative fournie par la methode historiciste pour une evaluation correcte de l'importance des regularites et des exceptions.

Argentine-Brazilian relations had traditionally been characterized by the alternation and coexistence of rivalry and cooperation. During the 1970s, conflictive stances prevailed over collaborative attitudes because of the existence of economic and power asymmetries and the presence of assertive military regimes. Yet the decisive diplomatic rapprochement between the two countries occurred under the military administrations between 1979 and 1982. Broadly collaborative dealings have characterized bilateral relations ever since, especially after the return to democracy in the mid-1980s.

The solution of the quarrel over the Itaipu dam of 1979, the nuclear agreements of 1980, together with a number of initiatives calculated to revitalize trade exchange led some scholars to identify the turn in bilateral relations of the late 1970s and early 1980s as the starting point of the bilateral integration process later to be formalized under the democratic rule in 1986 (Pastor 1996; Goncalves 1995). However, both Oscar Camilion and Ramiro Saraiva Guerreiro, Foreign Ministers of Argentina and Brazil during the late military period, dismiss this argument (Camilion 2003; Saraiva Guerreiro 2003). The former insists that no discussion regarding a free trade agreement or customs union was ever put forward under the military. The latter recalls that times were felt to be premature for such an undertaking.

Other scholars have given all the credit for the launch of the integration process to the newly democratic administrations, and have identified the summit, at Foz de Iguacu in November 1985 between Presidents Alfonsin of Argentina and Sarney of Brazil, as the starting point of bilateral integration (Hirst 1999; Russell 1989). This has also long been the prevailing position within the Brazilian chancellery. …

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