810.20 Defense/58⅚: Telegram

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

255. For the Under Secretary. My 228, May 24, 5 p.m. Aranha tells me that the President held a special Cabinet meeting on Wednesday when the Chiefs of Staff of the Army and Navy were present for the purpose of discussing military and naval cooperation with the United States. It was unanimously agreed that Brazil would cooperate to the fullest extent with the United States and other American countries in case of an aggression against any of them from any quarter whatever. It was unanimously agreed also that Brazil would cooperate fully with the United States on military and naval matters in general. The question was broached as to what Brazil would do in case the United States intervened in the war in Europe. The definite answer to that was left in suspense. The Minister of War referred again to the arms they are getting from Germany and that they are getting them under extremely advantageous conditions and terms. The Ministers of War and Navy then referred to the difficulties they experience in acquiring material in the United States; they referred to “our cash and carry policy” and to our high prices. The Minister of War said that he has been unable to get ammunition for the 99 6-inch guns Brazil recently acquired in the United States; the 7-inch guns acquired at the same time lack propelling carriages; and it would take 2 years to build the carriages, et cetera, for the 7-inch guns then acquired.

Aranha read a prepared statement giving his point of view as to the necessity of Brazil’s cooperating fully with the United States in all matters military, naval, aerial, as well as political, growing out of the European war situation. Unanimous approval was given by all present to Aranha’s statement and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, of War and of Navy were authorized to conduct conversations with me, also Colonel Miller and Captain Beauregard, with a view to working out means of practical cooperation along military, air and naval lines.

I took Colonel Miller this afternoon to call on Aranha. Aranha told him that Brazil was prepared to enter at once into the desired discussions and was willing to cooperate with us as desired. Brazil [Page 46] is willing to work out with us detailed plans providing for practical cooperation in cases of aggression, direct or indirect, and subversive movements. Brazil is willing to expand her air fields, et cetera, at Fernando [do] Noronha and Natal in the manner we desire. (She needs credit for this he observed.) Brazil is willing in case of aggression or subversive movements to permit the use of these fields and any others needed by our air forces.

“Now the other side of the picture is this”, said Aranha: “The Brazilian Army and Navy people are skeptical about receiving from you the one thing they need, and that is armament;” they doubt that we, by reason of lack of adequate legislation or from lack of adequate manufacturing facilities at this time, are in a position to let them have the much needed armament on terms or conditions in any way comparable to those conceded by the Germans. He feels strongly that it is more important for us to find some way or means to help out their army and navy on this question. He remarked to me in an aside: “You hold conversations with us and the Germans give us arms.” Aranha went on to say that in his opinion it is vital for us to do everything to prevent a Nazi or near Nazi overturn in this country and he feels that the best possible thing that we can do to prevent such an overturn is to let the army and navy here have arms on advantageous conditions (Colonel Miller asked me later if I thought it would be possible to make any sort of a deal with the Brazilians for their purchasing air planes against what they could readily supply us).

Aranha said that Miller should talk over the whole situation with Dutra60 and Góes, remarking that the Brazilian Army had given a list of their defense needs to General Marshall last year. He added that as soon as an agreement had been reached between the United States and Brazil they would gladly take up the matter of better cooperation with at least the Argentine also.

Aranha agreed that Captain Beauregard should talk with the naval authorities along indicated lines.

  1. Gen. Eurico Gaspar Dutra, Minister of War.