President Juscelino Kubitschek (1956-61) improved relations with the United States, while strengthening relations with Latin America and Europe. His industrial development policy attracted huge direct investments by foreign capital, much from the United States. He proposed an ambitious plan for United States development aid in Latin America, the Pan-American Operation. The outgoing administration of President Dwight Eisenhower found the plan of no interest, but the administration of President John F. Kennedy appropriated funds in 1961 for the Alliance for Progress.
Relations again cooled slightly after President Janio Quadros announced his new independent foreign policy in January 1961. Quadros also made overtures to Cuba and decorated Cuban revolutionary Ernesto "Che" Guevara with Brazil's highest honor. In late 1963, Washington, alarmed that Brazil might become a hostile, nonaligned power like Egypt, reduced foreign aid to Brazil.
In March 31, 1964 a military coup overthrew the government of President Joao Goulart. The exact role of the United States in that event remains controversial, as the U.S. immediately recognized the new interim government (before Goulart had even fled Brazilian territory); a United States naval task force was anchored close to the port of Vitoria; the United States government made an immediate large loan to the new Castelo Branco government (1964-67); and the new military president adopted a policy of total alignment with the United States. The presidents that followed pursued an independent foreign policy while maintaining friendly relations with the Unites States.
The Nixon administration remained basically sympathetic to Brazilian hopes for growth and world power status, and considered Brazil to be one of the developing nations most sympathetic to the United States. In 1976, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Minister of Foreign Relations Antonio Azeredo da Silveira signed a memorandum of understanding that the two powers would consult on all issues of mutual concern and would hold semiannual meetings of foreign ministers. Only the major Western allies had such an agreement with the United States.
The Carter administration marked a definite cooling of the Brazilian-American relations. The confrontation involved two very sensitive issues - human rights and nuclear proliferation. In 1967 Brazil had signed a contract with Westinghouse to build a 626-megawatt nuclear power plant at Angra dos Reis to be complete in 1977. However the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission renounced its guarantee of delivery of enriched uranium, and prohibited Westinghouse from constructing enrichment and reprocessing plants in Brazil.
Brazil, desiring independent control of the full cycle from ore to kilowatts, signed a broad nuclear agreement with West Germany in June 1975. It involved furnishing technology and equipment for eight nuclear power plants, plus enrichment and reprocessing facilities. Despite safeguard provisions, some thought this agreement opened the door for Brazil to construct nuclear weapons, if desired. The Ford administration reacted mildly to the agreement, but from his first day in office, President Carter sought to prevent its implementation. In 1975 Brazil renounced the United States-Brazil Military Assistance Agreement, which had been in effect since 1952, in a clear response to the position of the Carter administration. Formal relations between the two armed forces have still not been reestablished.
In the early 1980s, tension in the American-Brazilian relations centered on economic questions. Retaliation for unfair trade practices loomed on the horizon and threatened Brazilian exports of steel, orange juice, commuter aircraft, shoes and textiles. When President Sarney took office in 1985, political issues, such as Brazil's arms exports to Libya and Iran, again surfaced. Brazil's foreign debt moratorium and its refusal to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty caused the United States to put Brazil on its mandated blacklist, thereby restricting Brazil's access to certain U.S. technologies.
On taking office in March, 1990 President Collor sought a quick reapproachment with the United States in order to begin an aggressive policy of inserting Brazil into the world economy and placing it at the negotiating table of world powers. The Franco administration maintained an independent stance and reacted coolly to proposals by the Clinton administration for a Latin American free-trade zone.
Relations with the Cardoso government in (1995-2003) were good. Cardoso made a very successful trip to Washington and New York in 1995 and the Clinton administration was very enthusiastic regarding the passage of constitutional amendments that opened the Brazilian economy to increasing international participation.
The Bush administration has come to view Brazil as a strong partner whose cooperation must be sought in order to solve regional and global problems. Current issues of concern to both Brazil and the United States include counter-narcotics and terrorism, energy security, trade, environmental issues, human rights and HIV/AIDS.
The current bilateral relations are considered fairly close, despite the differing political approaches of President Lula and President Bush on some issues. On June 20, 2003, President Lula made an official visit to the United States, and he and President Bush resolved "to create a closer and qualitatively stronger [bilateral] relationship." On November 6, 2005, President Bush visited Brasilia and the two leaders reaffirmed the good relations between the countries and pledged to work together to advance peace, democracy, and a successful conclusion of the Doha round of global trade talks. President Bush thanked Brazil for exercising leadership in the world and in the hemisphere, including Brazil's role in the peacekeeping force in Haiti (MINUSTAH), and worldwide efforts to control HIV/AIDS.
Brazilian and American officials signed an agreement to promote greater ethanol production and use throughout the world. The agreement was reached after President Bush's visit to Brazil on March 9, 2007 and by a visit from President Lula to Camp David on March 31, 2007.