BRITAIN'S COMMERCIAL OPPORTUNITIES
(From a Correspondent)
British interests in Brazil amount to no less than £300,000,000. It was natural, therefore, that the recent attempt of the Fascist elements in Brazil to overthrow President Vargas by force of arms should have made the headlines in our daily Press for a day.
The intensive propaganda indulged in by certain European countries provides a talking-point. For in its
relation both in this country and to the whole continent of South America, the premature revolt of the Accao Integralista Brasileira is of immense significance. Its effect has been to bring totalitarian doctrines to the bar of public opinion in every Latin-American country.
Cause of Rising
The most logical explanation of this outbreak is that it was the result of a fear that recent energetic measures by the Brazilian Government to check the undue growth of foreign political institutions was likely to prove all too successful.
It can be said, at least, that the German Government has clone nothing to dispel the impression formed by the Brazilians that the Integralist Party draws its inspiration, if not its ammunition, from Berlin. An indication of the extent to which German influence had already, before the revolt, fallen under the suspicion of abusing commercial relations as a, cloak for political activities is provided by those measures prohibiting all foreigners from taking part in politics or maintaining societies or clubs. Against these measures the German Government has, on several occasions, officially and semi-officially protested. The protests have naturally confirmed suspicion.
No Support from the People
It was, however, made clear that, in spite of the widespread and efficient organisation of the Fascist party, there was no popular support for the revolt. Indeed, it is probable now that President Vargas will be compelled by popular feeling to take a strong line in regard to German influence in Brazil.
It can also be assumed that the firm attitude adopted recently by the Argentine Government towards foreign " politicoracial. ideologies " will become more uncompromising.
It is doubtful if there is any important country in South America where German interests will not suffer a setback. In this event a situation will be created in which this country ought to be deeply interested.
The basis of German interests in Brazil and elsewhere, namely. her trade with these countries on a compensation basis " and through subsidy, have been the spearhead of penetration.
In so far as the system has brought prosperity to Latin-America, it has justified what the Nazis call their " cultural activities." The swastika has followed trade, and in the German scheme of things, with the German control of nationals, the swastika and the Aski mark are apt to be too closely allied for the comfort of South American Governments. This situation will now be submitted to examination.
Examination of German Imports
In Brazil a decree has already been passed providing that all Brazilian importers must submit detailed statements of all orders of imports of German origin.
This, in itself, foreshadows repercussions. But there has been, also, for some time considerable speculation in Brazil as to the real value of trading in a currency not available for world payments.
There is, again, the undoubted fact that
the Brazilian importers, under the system, have been forced to take goods for which they have no real use. The Brazilian Government, however, as the chief buyer, of Brazilian products is in an advantageous position for solving these doubts—if necessary to the detriment of Germany.
President Vargas has proved, if proof were needed, that he is no Fascist, at least in the European sense. A dictator in the South American tradition, he is acceptable to a people who have no wish to resume the nineteenth century game of " ins " and " outs "—a game no longer suitable to Latin America where prosperity depends so much on close economic control. But the LiberalNationalist tradition still leavens South American politics. A dictator there may be within the limits imposed by this tradition, and needless to say, by the Catholic Church, but he must be, as Vargas is, a nationalist dictator.
While this spirit still rules there exists an opportunity for this country to regain some of the commercial ground lost to Germany. Italy and Japan. South American countries still need the foreigners' help if their own natural wealth is to be adequately developed. As between dependence on swastikas, fasces and axes and dependence on the reasonably free world trade of which the country is still the centre there may be little normally to choose, but a vigorous policy on Britain's part would certainly redound to the advantage of our own population—and to that of South America. The fight for the spiritual domination of South America is another matter, already written of in this paper. But the strengthening of the connection between that Continent and Britain would not be more damaging than any other connection.