800.8830 Brazil/291

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

No. 11758

Sir: I have the honor to refer to despatch No. 11648, of June 16, 1943,60 and to previous correspondence regarding coastwise shipping problems and the food shortage in northern Brazil.

Reports from the American Consul and from the Coordinator’s Committee in Bahia indicate that, in addition to the absence of adequate coastwise shipping facilities, the food shortage in Bahia is attributable in some degree to the lack of motor fuel to operate trucks in which to transport food supplies to Bahia from adjacent producing areas, and also to inequality in the fixed price of beef cattle which results in the latter being sold in the neighboring state of Minas Gerais rather than in Bahia.

Inasmuch as the scarcity and high price of food in Bahia are being entirely attributed in certain Brazilian quarters, although improperly, to the American armed forces at Bahia and to the American merchant vessels that converge at that port for convoy purposes, the Embassy has discussed certain possible remedial measures with the appropriate Brazilian authorities in Rio de Janeiro. The latter have agreed to endeavor to provide facilities to transport by railroad to Bahia from the state of Alagoas supplies of alcohol for motor fuel purposes and to undertake an adjustment of beef cattle prices. If these steps are carried out effectively and promptly it is not improbable that the food situation in Bahia may be somewhat corrected. The Office of the Coordinator of Inter-American Affairs, whose representative recently completed a survey of the Bahia food situation, has reported to the Embassy that while “all authorities do not agree on the extent of the food shortage” information provided by the Minister of Agriculture and the Interventor’s special food committee indicates that there is an annual shortage of at least 12,000 metric tons of dried beef, rice, potatoes, lard and butter. The report includes the following paragraph:

“I suggest that the Embassy’s plan (telegram No. 2729 [2769] of June 7, 1943) for supplying all Americans with food up and down the coast be pushed with all possible speed. This would do more in one stroke to clear up the situation than any other one thing that can be done. In keeping with the Embassy’s plan, this office is making every possible effort to produce total fruit and vegetable requirements of the American armed forces and personnel from Bahia north. In some [Page 734] areas this is already being accomplished. In others we are just getting under way, but in all probability we will be able to meet the problem throughout the area in from 4 to 6 months.”

The Embassy has been informed that, in order to relieve the food shortage at Bahia, during the past week the Rio de Janeiro branch of the United States Naval Operating Base acquired and shipped to Bahia for our forces at that place approximately 88 tons of refrigerated meat, and that when vessel space becomes available 40,000 pounds of bacon and smoked ham will also be shipped.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Harold S. Tewell

First Secretary of Embassy
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