Although Walt Disney's early animated feature films were successful, a variety of economic, operational, and external forces required him to continually be on the cutting edge of new ideas and technologies in order for his studio to continue operations. Latin America became the studio's source of inspiration in the early 1940s, sprouting from Walt Disney's involvement with the Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs. Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros were the result. While many critics have decried Disney's involvement in Latin America as being an apparatus of cultural imperialism and economic exploitation, they almost universally give him credit for his pursuit of cultural authenticity within the films. They are, however, sparing in what ways such was done and are reticent in declaring that he fulfilled that quest. As one who was involved politically and economically in the shaping of a nation, with his enterprise benefiting as a result, Walt Disney can in fact be seen as a colonial, imperial power. Within Brazil, José Carioca was the "monument" he erected to that end. Unlike full-fledged colonial figures in earlier centuries, however, his "monument" was overall friendly and was not based on the image of a sovereign leader, but a character that was intended to be seen as native. Where Disney was bound by the interests of the government he represented, and consequentially the Brazilian government, his "monument" was imbued with hues that were inherently skewed toward those entities; however, he worked within those parameters to present a credible image. This thesis seeks to substantiate those ways and how the original monument-like figure Disney erected in the Brazilian public square, the image of José Carioca in Saludos Amigos and The Three Caballeros, led to unity—and not division—as most imperial monuments had done in earlier centuries. A possible explanation as to how Disney's multiple nuanced iterations of the character leads to such critique of the original "monument" will also be provided.



College and Department

Humanities; Spanish and Portuguese



Date Submitted


Document Type





José Carioca, Brazil, Walt Disney, OCIAA, Good Neighbor Policy, cultural imperialism, hybrid cultures, intercontinental representation, monument building