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Under the shadow of Aswan: perspectives of economic and technical cooperation between Brazil and the USSR (1962-1964)

Grant number: 20/07210-4
Support type:Scholarships in Brazil - Post-Doctorate
Effective date (Start): August 01, 2021
Effective date (End): July 31, 2023
Field of knowledge:Humanities - History
Principal researcher:Felipe Pereira Loureiro
Grantee:Gianfranco Caterina
Home Institution: Instituto de Relações Internacionais (IRI). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil


This project aims to identify and analyze the causes that led to the failure of Brazil/USSR hydroelectric cooperation between 1962 and 1964. We will deal with two independent variables: the occurrence of a global Soviet retraction in the field of economic and technical cooperation and the importance of the role played by president João Goulart in the talks, betting high on the endeavor - secondary hypotheses and intervening variables will also be presented. In Brazil, the period is characterized by severe economic difficulties, political turmoil, and the deterioration of Goulart administration's ties with the United States. On the external front, there is an important initiative by President João Goulart which is largely unknown by scholars. During a meeting with the Soviet ambassador in October 1962, the Brazilian President expressed his interest in a large-scale economic and technical cooperation with the USSR. Goulart mentioned the possibility of aid for the construction of a huge project in the Country, similar to the Aswan hydroelectric plant - which was underway in Egypt with Soviet assistance. The talks dragged on over months with no decision in sight. Goulart would return to the topic in October 1963, during a conversation with Ambassador Fomin. The meeting would mark the first time that a Brazilian President would request economic and technical assistance from the USSR for a specific project. The plant would be built at Salto de Sete Quedas on the Paraná River (where, later, the Itaipu plant would be built - the largest in the world when it was concluded). Using Russian, Brazilian, and American sources, this project seeks to understand why the initiative failed. If it had been successful, the joint venture would have a profound impact on the domestic and regional contexts, as well as on Brazil's relations with the USA. (AU)

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