832.30/214: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Brazil ( Morgan )

77. Your 140, November 4, 4 p.m. There were negotiations during most of the summer with the Brazilian Ambassador regarding the change desired by the Brazilian Government in paragraph 16 of Article 4 of the contract for the Naval Mission to Brazil.23 The Navy Department did not wish the change. The Ambassador finally discussed the matter with the Secretary of State on October 9th and it appeared that the English wording was all right but the Portuguese text was not a very accurate translation and that that was perhaps the cause of the difficulty. The Secretary of State and the Ambassador agreed that this paragraph should be changed to read as follows: “The officers of the Mission will be accorded rights, immunities and privileges habitually granted to diplomatic representatives accredited to Brazil.” The Secretary of the Navy also agreed. The Ambassador cabled his Government to obtain its consent and asked for authority to propose this wording as the suggestion of the Brazilian Government. This authorization was granted and the Ambassador submitted a note dated October 21 that was received in the Department the following day and in the office handling the matter on October 23. A copy of the note was sent to the Navy Department for its formal approval and this was not received until the 24th, or after the revolution had taken place.

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The Secretary discussed the matter with the Ambassador on October 31. The latter stated that he had cabled the previous day to Mr. Mello Franco outlining the negotiations and stating that he had sent the Department a note on October 21 under instructions of Mr. Mello Franco’s predecessor and asking instructions in the premises. The Ambassador added that the only way out he could suggest would be that, as the agreement was to be consummated by an exchange of notes and his note had already been despatched before the Brazilian Government fell, the Secretary answer that note dating his answer October 21 also so that there would be no question of recognition. If the Secretary agreed to this proposal the Ambassador would make it to his Government as the Ambassador’s own proposal.

The Secretary replied that he was not in favor of this course of action because the new authorities in Rio perhaps do not know us and might think we were trying to bring pressure to bear to continue the Naval Mission and also because there might be changes in the present Brazilian authorities. If the present authorities were later succeeded by others, the new authorities might feel that the United States Government had foisted upon the temporary authorities an agreement for 4 years for the Mission which would not be to their liking. The Secretary said that he thought a modus vivendi could be entered into until a new government is recognized which can decide whether it desires to make a definite contract.

The Ambassador recurred to his suggestion for a note from the Secretary dated October 21. The Secretary again declined and said that the problem is to find out whether the present Brazilian authorities desire our Naval officers in Brazil or not. If they do not, the quicker we can get them out the better. On the other hand if they desire them to stay, it would be a very easy matter to make a temporary arrangement bridging over the time until a definitive one can be made. The Ambassador said that he would cable to his Government in this sense and indicated a preference that the modus vivendi be entered into by you and the Foreign Office in Rio, but promised to advise us of the reply of his Government.

This Government of course understands that the Brazilian authorities are very fully preoccupied with more pressing matters and is perfectly willing to have the Mission carry on after the termination of the present contract on November 6th until the Brazilian Government has an opportunity to reach a decision in the matter.

  1. The paragraph under reference reads as follows: “The officers of the Mission will be accorded rights and privileges habitually granted to diplomatic representatives accredited to Brazil and of corresponding rank, except with regard to rights of importation already covered in a preceding clause.”

    The Brazilian Government had suggested that it be modified to read as follows: “The American officers of the Naval Mission are exempt from civil and criminal jurisdiction in Brazil and are not subject to personal taxes.” (832.30/209.)