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South American Front - 1944


Series Name
The March of Time 9th Year


Issue No.
Date Released
15 May 1944
Length of issue (in feet)
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1South American Front - 1944


Story No. within this Issue
1 / 1
The March of Time synopsis: The collapse of France in 1940 placed Brazil in a position of vital strategic importance. Only sixteen hundred miles from French West Africa, Brazil could have become the landing point of a Nazi invasion, or, alternatively, a base from which the United Nations might carry the war to the enemy. Much depended on the decision of President Getulio Vargas, in those days mistrusted by many North Americans as a dictator who owed his position to a military caste not credited with democratic sympathies. Later, when alarming reports of under-cover pro-Axis activity among Brazil’s large Japanese and German communities caused widespread anxiety, only those in close touch with Brazil’s Foreign Office knew that in Vargas’ regime the democracies would find a powerful friend and ally.

The Vargas Government, though a dictatorship, is progressive and even liberal. It has built thousands of schools in its campaign to wipe out illiteracy, made free medical care available to all schoolchildren in its determined effort to improve national health, brought modern sanitation into regions which have never known it before, and by a programme of Government housing and social and labour legislation designed to improve conditions among Brazil’s people, has won wide popular acclaim. Brazil’s economic prosperity has always depended on the export of coffee, and with the collapse of European markets in 1940 the nation’s economy was almost wrecked. The United States Government, realising that if Brazil’s economic were allowed to break down, the friendly Vargas Government might fall with it, underwrote the entire unshipped balance of Brazil’s coffee crop for three years, and arranged credits for industrial projects which might help stabilise finance. These gestures were not lost, for when America entered the war, she got from Brazil concessions and co-operation without which her entire plan of defence might have been compromised.
Brazil was the first South American ration to declare war on Germany and Italy, but before this, at Natal and other places on the Brazilian bulge, the United States got the right to build and operate its own air bases. Within a few months these bases were the centre of a system of military air transport speeding supplies to armies fighting on three continents. The March of Time emphasises that without these bases Rommel could never have been defeated in Tunisia and the Italian invasion never launched.

Of at least equal importance with the concession of these bases was Brazil’s economic co-operation. Brazil is the only source of high grade quartz, indispensable for modern radio equipment, and the only source, save far-off India, of mica suitable for electrical equipment. Without Brazilian tantalite there could have been no new electronic devices like the secret radar which helped to turn the scales against the Axis in the air and on the sea. Other vital materials such as rubber, and a non-freezing oil which makes possible high-altitude flying, are listed to show that Brazil’s contribution to the Allied cause, if reckoned only in natural resources, is considerable and perhaps even decisive. But Brazil has been in the war to the limit of her capacities. Four thousand Brazilian airmen trained at home or in the United States are now flying, some in the Mediterranean zone, some on Atlantic patrol, and in their first year of war Brazil’s fliers attained the proud record of thirteen submarines sent to the bottom by their coastal planes. While Brazil’s navy is small, it has been of important service to the United Nations in patrol and convoy work and in the days when Nazi U-boats were sweeping the seas almost at will, rendered invaluable service in helping to keep open the shipping lanes off South America’s coast. To consecrate its partnership in the United Nations, Brazil is preparing an expeditionary force, symbolic of its willingness to fight overseas. But it is on the South American front that Brazil has won a new destiny and by its loyalty to its Pan-American pledge, a new and potent voice in the Latin American world.
Researcher Comments
This story was included in Vol.10 No.8 of the US edition.
Foreign relations; Diplomacy; War and conflict
Written sources
The March of Time Promotional Material   Lobby Card, Used for synopsis
Production Co.
Time Inc.

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