Ambassador Griscom to the Secretary of State.
Petropolis, August 31, 1906.
Sir: As some days have elapsed since your visit to Brazil I had an opportunity to observe and consider its effects concerning which I now have the honor to submit the following comment:
There can be no question but that your visit has been of great material benefit to the political and commercial interests of the United States. For generations past there has always been in Brazil, as elsewhere in South America, a considerable element of the population who view the United States with suspicion and mistrust—suspicion of our motives, and mistrust of such conciliatory advances which we may from time to time have made. To remove all these suspicions at one stroke were indeed an impossible task, but it may be said that, as a direct result of your visit to Brazil, the whole attitude of the Government and people of this Republic toward the United States has been revolutionized, and we may fairly count in the future that the assumption will be that we mean well, instead as it has been in the past that we mean harm.
It could hardly be hoped that such a complete revolution would be effected without some opposition, some objection, and we must anticipate a reaction and be prepared to meet it, but the fact remains that the fight is won, and it but rests for us to encourage in every way in our power the friendly feelings which have been excited. During the period immediately preceding your visit, and during your visit, there was not a single discordant note in the chorus of welcome and enthusiasm wmich the visit called forth, and in not a single public utterance was there one word of criticism or disapproval; in fact the welcome of the Brazilian nation was whole-souled and unanimous, more so than even our warmest friends ventured to hope. Those of us who live here certainly anticipated that the extreme element, [Page 135]which has always been so unfriendly to our people, would surely make their voice heard and be guilty of some unfriendly sign or demonstration. But public opinion was too strong, and they must have recognized that any such movement would have met with almost universal condemnation.
The situation previous to your arrival was such that it only required the simple assurances which you were able to make and the friendly advances which your visit portended to destroy the suspicions of the serious-minded people whose friendship was worth having, and to stimulate the liking and affectionate regard which must come with greater knowledge of our people and our principles. There can be no doubt that your trouble and time would have been amply repaid by your visit to Brazil, even had you never set foot in other parts of South America.
The first practical results of your visit are now beginning to make themselves seen. Three days ago a prominent member of the Chamber of Deputies introduced a bill, which has been reported in the embassy’s No. 22, of August 29, which is a project for alterations in the existing Brazilian tariff, and which, if carried into effect, would give a 20 per cent preferential reduction in favor of all merchandise imported into Brazil from the United States. This preferential reduction is in favor of countries which import more than 4,000,000 sacks of coffee and admit it free of duty, and as we are the only country which comes within this category the preference is as against the whole world. On the other hand, a surtax is proposed which provides for a 10 per cent increase of the Brazilian tariff on merchandise emanating from countries imposing over 50 per cent import duty on Brazilian coffee or sugar, and 20 per cent increase on merchandise emanating from countries imposing over 100 per cent duty on the same Brazilian products.
As a further instance of the practical results of your visit, I may mention that Doctor Botelho, the secretary of agriculture of the State of São Paulo, has issued an order that all the employees of his secretariate shall learn to speak the English language and that the ability to do so will be a necessary qualification for future candidates for office. In private conversation Doctor Botelho gives as his reason for the new regulation that your visit has opened his eyes to the necessity for his people of a better understanding of the United States. One can hardly overestimate the importance of an order which will tend to spread our language among a people which for generations has been under the influence of French philosophy and literature.
In this connection I may add that Dr. Felix Gaspar, the minister of justice of Brazil, has recently stated that if satisfactory arrangements can be made he proposes to send to the United States one-half of the students which each year the Brazilian Government has hitherto been sending exclusively to Europe.
In order to take advantage of the good feeling engendered and to stimulate our trade with Brazil, I have in mind at present that we should endeavor to bring about three changes. In the first place, we should secure a preferential reduction in the Brazilian tariff as soon as possible; secondly, we should negotiate a parcels-post convention with Brazil in order to facilitate the sending of samples and sample [Page 136]shipments of merchandise; and, thirdly, we should secure the necessary authorization for the operation of express companies between Brazil and the United States in order to facilitate the speedy transmission of valuable freights. The principal need of this is due to the fact that when freight reaches the port of Rio from the United States it takes usually between two and a half and three months for it to be brought to land and to pass the customs. Express matter, however, would receive special handling and would pass the customs in the same way as passengers’ baggage within two or three days. I have taken advantage of the moment to broach both the question of parcels-post and the express companies to the Brazilian Government, and the suggestions have been very favorably received and the necessary negotiations have been started. It is fortunate that just at this moment, as telegraphed to you by me on the 20th instant, the Lloyd Brasileiro, the largest Brazilian steamship company, has put into operation a new monthly steamship service between Rio and New York. The English company of Lamport and Holt have been running a monthly service with a practical monopoly, and without competition the freights have been prohibitive. It is hoped that we are entering upon an era more favorable to merchants who may desire to reach out for trade with Brazil.
The crying need of our commercial relations with Brazil is better steamship communications. Inquiry among our leading financiers and merchants indicates that encouragement by our National Government in the form of a small postal or other subvention would quickly bring about the establishment of a good line of American steamers between New York and Rio. Given a few facilities, our trade with Brazil must inevitably go ahead at once with leaps and bounds. It would seem that the moment following your visit to South America would be propitious for interesting our congress and public in some measure to stimulate our commerce with this part of our hemisphere. It were indeed a pity if the wave of friendly feeling which is sweeping over South America following upon your visit, and the great forces which you have set in motion, so ripe with beneficial possibilities, should meet with no responsive movement on the part of our people and should be allowed to subside without leaving lasting practical results.
I have, etc.,