862.20232/206: Telegram

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

331. From the Under Secretary. Your 504, May 20, 7 p.m.11 Please tell Aranha from me personally that I very deeply appreciate his message and I fully realize the significance of the statements he has made to you.

Please make it clear to him that there is no government anywhere with which this Government regards itself as being on more intimate terms of trust and confidence than with the Government of Brazil. As Aranha knows, I have made it a practice ever since I have occupied this office to communicate to the Government of Brazil all information which this Government received which I have believed would be of value to the Brazilian Government. I also have been most grateful for the information which Aranha has frequently given to you and which has been most valuable to us here.

If this Government has failed at any time to make its position fully clear to the Brazilian Government, although I do not think it has, I should be the first to regret it. I wish you would add in this connection that any specific question that Aranha cares to ask you or that his Ambassador here cares to ask me would be immediately [Page 495] answered provided a definite answer is possible. But I know that you will understand that under present conditions questions as to what our policy might be under given contingencies cannot be answered yes or no because the problem is not as simple as that. Answers to questions of that kind necessarily depend upon many considerations and upon future developments.

[Here follow comments on relations with the French Government at Vichy.]

With reference to the French colonies in the Western Hemisphere,12 this Government has not only stationed in Martinique authorized observers and representatives who are constantly watching the situation, but it has likewise a patrol of naval planes and destroyers which make it possible for us to know both day and night the movements of the French vessels in the French Caribbean colonies. The French High Commissioner in Martinique has informed us specifically that the new negotiations with Germany have not modified in any way the status quo in Martinique. If this is true, there would seem to be no immediate reason to contemplate any inter-American action with regard to the French colonies in the Western Hemisphere and French Guiana is, of course, included in this category.

With reference to the general situation in the United States, the present attitude and intentions of this Government, and the prejudicial effect upon Brazilian public opinion which recent German victories have had, I may make the following statements:

The President has requested the Ambassadors and Ministers of the other American Republics to meet with him at the White House next Tuesday night when he broadcasts an address13 intended particularly for the people of the United States and the people of the other American Republics. I believe that this address will answer many of the questions which may be in Aranha’s mind and in the minds of many of the Brazilian people.

I think, however, that you should state to Aranha that in our considered judgment the German Government and its allies can never achieve victory so long as they do not obtain mastery of the seas, and particularly of the Atlantic. The United States will never permit the passage of the control of the seas, and particularly the Atlantic, into the hands of powers which are clearly bent solely on world conquest and world domination and which have as their major objective [Page 496] the enslavement of all free peoples, including the twenty-one American nations. That is a fundamental principle in our present policy since we regard it as the prime requisite for the insurance of the defense and security of the United States and of the Western Hemisphere.

With regard to this final point I leave it to your discretion whether to communicate it to Aranha or directly to President Vargas. It is in the highest degree confidential at this time, but the President personally authorized me to communicate through you to President Vargas the fact that a very considerable portion of the United States fleet is now travelling under secret orders from the Pacific to the Atlantic and that this portion of the fleet will be in the Atlantic by June 8. The developments of the past weeks affecting the Atlantic have caused the President to reach the decision that this part of the fleet must without further delay be utilized in the Atlantic Ocean to safeguard the interests of the United States and its American neighbors.

I shall appreciate it if after you have had your conversation with Aranha or with President Vargas you will telegraph their reaction and any comment they may make. [Welles.]

  1. Not printed. In this telegram the Ambassador reported a conversation with Aranha in which the latter stressed the need for better informing President Vargas as to plans of the United States with respect to the war and especially reasons for the belief that the United States could successfully fight Germany. Such information was especially important in view of the number of Germans in Brazil and the growing belief among many people that Germany would win the war. (862.20232/206)
  2. For correspondence regarding concern of the United States over the fate of the French possessions in the Western Hemisphere after the invasion of France by Germany, see Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. ii, pp. 493 ff.
  3. For text of the President’s address May 27, 1941, see Department of State Bulletin, May 31, 1941, p. 647.