Brazil: State of Chaos

Under Brazil's constitution, the President can petition Congress to declare a state of siege in the event of "grave internal disturbances or when there is evidence that disturbances are about to erupt." The words precisely described the chaotic state of affairs in Latin America's biggest nation last week, and President Joao Goulart made it official. Unable to cope with any of the major crises —and few of the small ones—he asked the Brazilian Congress to proclaim a 30-day state of siege.

The problems were not new. They were just getting worse. Sucked up by a fierce inflationary spiral, the country's...

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