810.20 Defense/5353/7

The Chargé in Brazil ( Burdett ) to the Secretary of State

No. 4149

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s despatch No. 4100 of January 16, 1941 (File No. 830),6 concerning the staff conversations held between representatives of the Brazilian and United States Navies.

A note was sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on January 13, 1941, and a copy transmitted to the Department with the abovementioned despatch. This note requested information on the action taken on the agreements reached in the staff conversations. I have called several times at the Foreign Office in an endeavor to expedite a reply to this note.

In the meantime, Captain A. T. Beauregard, United States Navy, Chief of the United States Naval Mission to Brazil, has conferred with the Minister of Marine. Captain Beauregard has handed to the Embassy a memorandum concerning this conference. Copies are transmitted herewith. It is requested that a copy be sent to the Navy Department.

Respectfully yours,

William C. Burdett
[Page 492]

Memorandum by the Chief of the United States Naval Mission to Brazil ( Beauregard ) to the Chargé in Brazil ( Burdett )

On January 27, 1941 in an interview with the Minister of Marine that official showed the Chief of Naval Mission the substance of his reply to a question from the Foreign Office as to what was being done to make ready for execution the provisions of the Staff Conversations, which in effect was mainly as follows:—

Studies and plans were being developed in all the subjects mentioned in the Staff Conversations.
Inability to receive war material at any early date from the United States retarded the development of preparedness.
The Minister of Marine, himself, planned to visit the North of Brazil on a cruiser to determine the material required for the development of facilities and defenses at Belem and at Natal, and for the militarization of Fernando Noronha and Trinidad.
The Foreign Office was urged to use diplomatic means to secure promise of release and delivery of needed war material from the United States.
An officer had been sent to the United States to cooperate in the preparation of codes and ciphers for Pan-American use. (Note:—Lieut-Comdr. Harper of the Naval Mission has already prepared a cipher based on the International Signal Code which is available for sudden emergency use).

The Chief of Naval Mission impressed upon the Minister of Marine the following opinions:—

Brazil was not as seriously alarmed over the world situation as perhaps she should be.
Brazil seemed more concerned over future economic independence than immediate preparedness.
If Brazil were suddenly attacked, the defenses should be such as to hold out until reenforcements from the United States could arrive.
Reenforcements arriving should have safe and protected anchorages to which to proceed.
Captains of the Ports did not at present possess even armed tugs with which to enforce any regulations.
Information was to the effect that nothing had been done toward manufacture or acquisition of submarine nets.
The development of Brazilian-made torpedoes would probably take several years and the destroyers now being built might upon completion find themselves without torpedoes. The Minister stated that he did not like Bliss torpedoes, and that even if he did, only old Marks could be supplied and not the latest models.
The Brazilian Ministry of Marine should keep the United States Government constantly informed of the revised items it desired to obtain by purchase, because changed conditions might at any time make certain material suddenly available.

[Page 493]

The Minister of Marine was asked if a copy of the Naval Staff Conversations7 had been given to the President of Brazil.8 He replied in the negative but stated that they had been explained to him. It was suggested that if the President would approve the bases of those conversations and indicate that he was willing to allocate funds for their execution, the Minister of Marine would be in a position to go ahead at once on many items. The Minister of Marine stated that he would consult with the Foreign Minister toward securing governmental approval of the principles embodied in the Staff Conversations, which if obtained, should give an impetus to activities of preparation.

A. T. Beauregard
  1. Not printed.
  2. These Naval Staff Conversations, carried on by the Chief of the Brazilian Naval General Staff, Vice Admiral José Machado de Castro Silva, and the Chief of the United States Naval Mission, Captain A. T. Beauregard, resulted in a statement of “Understanding and Agreement” in which (1) the necessity was recognized of keeping open Brazilian ports and airfields in case of attack until reinforcements could arrive from the United States; (2) the United States agreed to assist with armed forces in meeting any attack from a non-American state or from a Fifth Column; (3) the United States promised to aid in procuring armaments and training personnel; (4) both parties agreed to the desirability of full exchange of information, of developing a suitable code and cipher, and of building up intelligence services; (5) when necessary, Brazil agreed to place at the disposition of United States naval forces, naval and air bases, anchorages, and port facilities, and agreed to allow “advance discreet operations” in the Natal area. The approval of the Navy Department of this understanding was indicated on November 14, 1940. (882.24/256½)
  3. Getulio Vargas.