Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Foreign Policy Change in Brazil: Comparing Castelo Branco (1964-1967) and Fernando Collor (1990-1992)

Academic journal article Brazilian Political Science Review

Foreign Policy Change in Brazil: Comparing Castelo Branco (1964-1967) and Fernando Collor (1990-1992)

Article excerpt


The object of this article is a specific theme within Brazilian Foreign Policy (BFP), the foreign policy change (FPC), which will be discussed by means of a compared analysis between two administrations: Humberto Alencar de Castelo Branco (19641967) and Fernando Collor de Mello (1990-1992). We set off from the perception that this phenomenon took place in both of the aforementioned administrations. Our objective is to identify how the FPC process took place by replicating an analytical framework specifically developed to analyze this process in countries with institutional and political frameworks similar to Brazil. Therefore, it will be possible to identify and to systematically discuss the influence of the independent variables (IV) on the research's dependent variable (DV), the FPC.

We also aim to find similarities as to the stance of the two presidents when they decided for a shift in foreign policy, and therefore analyze if there are patterns in the actions of the executive and the Ministry of External Relations (MER) during times of foreign policy redefinition. The objective is to analyze the change process - the implementation, its causes and conditions, primarily - by opposing the foreign policy of the analyzed administrations to the previous one, with little attention towards the subsequent administration (the FPC will always be analyzed in the transition between two executive mandates, even if the transition is not a necessary condition).

FPC is still an underexplored subject within the literature dealing with BFP and Foreign Policy Analysis (FPA). Domestically speaking, there is a predominance of paradigmatic studies and foreign policy history. In these, the focus lies on continuity and its causes, with no further investigations as to the motives and moments of rupture (Cervo and Bueno, 2002; Lima, 1994; Pinheiro, 2000 and 2004; Saraiva, 2003; Vizentini, 2008). In international terms, the literature on the matter has commonly argued for continuity and consensus as the adequate behavioral pattern, with a predominance of studies on continuity patterns instead of focusing on specific change scenarios (Gilpin, 1981 apud Rosati et al, 1994).

The choice behind these administrations is attributable to both being widely different periods - in regards to their historical and political domestic context, international system (IS) etc - with a relative consensus within the literature as being cases of FPC, even if discrepancies do exist as to the degree in such changes (Casarões, 2011; Cervo and Bueno, 2002; Lima, 1994; Pinheiro, 2000 and 2004; Vizentini, 2008).

The article unfolds in the following manner. In the next section there will be a theoretical discussion regarding the literature on FPA and BFP geared towards the explanation of the proposed analytical scheme used to analyze FPC cases. In the following two sections this theoretical framework is then applied to analyze the Castelo Branco and Fernando Collor administrations. In the fifth section the discussion will be centered on the occurrence of FPC in these administrations with basis on a checklist that enumerates the points which define the degrees of FPC within these processes. In the section after a comparison aims to find patterns to identify the main determinants and motives for the FPC; in it, there is also an attempt to discuss some possible contributions that this article may bring towards the specialized literature as well as its weaknesses and an agenda for future research. Lastly, some final considerations will be woven.

Theoretical Discussion

Firstly, we believe it is important to underline that, since the focus is on the domestic political processes that results in foreign policy, the State will not be analyzed as a "blackbox" (Rynning and Guzzini, 2001). Within this perspective, foreign policy is treated as a public policy whose formulation and implementation are defined by decision-makers, taking into consideration domestic imperatives, although differentiated from others by having influence over and/or being influenced by issues connected with the IS (Pinheiro and Solomón, 2011). …

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