Bizarre Nazi Triangles Part II -- Peru and BrazilPlease begin here with Part I -- Intro.
Peru had a small, but economically and politically affluent, Italian community. During the crisis over Ethiopia Italian Peruvians created the Nucleo di Propaganda in order to mobilize a propaganda campaign to encourage Peru to support Italy against the League of Nations. However, they were less interested in helping Italy to establish Fascism in Peru, according to Orazio A. Ciccarelli:
The community’s integration into Peruvian society and economy had made its members less than eager to embrace any cause that might endanger their peaceful and prosperous existence in Peru. [Furthermore the community] criticized Rome’s courting of President Benavides as potentially damaging to Italian interests in Peru ... They believed that Rome was undermining the community’s future security by its pursuit of the Peruvian president who ruled only through control of its military establishment.
The Italian community of Brazil was much larger (around three million), and its involvement with Italy more complex. They formed their own party, Açáo Integralista Brasileira (hereafter Integralists), but adopted the model of the Nazi party rather than Fascism. Italy flirted with the Integralists, even giving financial support to a radical minority whom (the ambassador to Brazil believed) would attempt to rebel against the government. Italy’s support was actually weak and uncertain: they wanted to countermand German influence within Italy more than anything else. Rome was never happy with Integralists: they followed “democratic formalities” and they were interested in national development rather than international struggle. In the 1937 elections, Integralists were happy to follow “normal” political procedures in a politically corrupt nation. As Ricardo Silva Seitenfus notes, Integralists probably rigged elections that allowed them to nominate a candidate for president, but they were not prepared to overthrow the state, as the Italian ambassador wanted:
[The ambassador] was consequently driven to near despair when [the Integralists] confirmed his fears by insisting on compromising with legalism and constantly repeating the same refrain: ‘Liberty-Democracy’.Defeated in the elections, Italy judged that:
[Integralists] suffered from two acute weaknesses, the lack of a hero and heroism and the unrealistic concern of leadership for the legal process.Two things changed the nature of the 1937 elections. First, Italy would back president Vargas after convinced by Berlin that he could be courted into a pact of anti-communist, pro-fascist nations. Italy had no more use for the Integralists, and cut them off. Second, Vargas banned all political opposition, depriving the elections of any meaning. Cut off from Rome and feeling cheated in the elections, a radical group from within the Integralists made a laughable attempt at a coup in May 1938 . They were easily defeated, and Vargas used the defeat of the coup to clean up the rest of the party. All that the coup revealed about the Integralists is that its radical wing was quite small, and the rest of the party would not follow its lead.
The attempted coup by the radicals of the AIB offers little proof that Italy was able to motivate Italians abroad. The foreign offices were not able to convince them to subvert the government , and the aid they gave was meager. Furthermore, Italy cut off its ties with the Integralists and cast their lot with the Vargas regime, which looked to becoming a Fascist power on its own with loyalties to the Axis powers. The coup itself was a reaction to corruption of the Vargas regime, not an expression of ethnicity on the part of the Integralists.
Continue with Part III -- Chile