Memorandum by the First Secretary of Embassy in Brazil (Tewell)62

Allocation of Facilities For Brazilian Coastwise Traffic

Mr. Myron Black, of the War Shipping Administration, Washington, called on me today in company with Mr. T. B. Wilson, War Shipping Administration Director for Brazil, at which time we discussed the necessity for additional vessels to transport United States Government official cargo from Rio to ports in northern Brazil.

I informed Mr. Black that at my request various agencies of the United States Government have today provided estimates of official cargo to be transported to northern Brazil. These estimates indicate a total of over 10,000 tons monthly during the next four months. It [Page 735] was pointed out that the Rubber Development Corporation, under an agreement with the Brazilian Government, is required to deliver in the Amazon Valley such food supplies as cannot be procured by private firms, and that this agency alone estimates an average monthly tonnage of 3,000 tons for delivery at Belém during the next four months. The Navy estimates space totalling 3,000 tons and the Army, ADP63 and USED64 approximately 1,000 tons and SESP65 at least 3,000 tons, chiefly cement for hospital construction. At the same time it was pointed out that there is a backlog in Rio of civilian cargo for Bahia alone totalling over 20,000 tons, that there is in addition a very large backlog for other northern ports and that under the circumstances United States Government agencies here will find it impossible to rely upon Brazilian coastwise shipping for the transportation of essential official cargo. I therefore suggested that the War Shipping Administration allot sufficient Brazilian vessels now operated by the War Shipping Administration to handle this official cargo.

Mr. Black stated that he had previously been unaware of this situation and he doubted whether any other responsible administrative officer of the War Shipping Administration in Washington was aware of it. He suggested that the monthly vessel requirements of all United States Government agencies here be compiled as accurately as possible to be transmitted to the WSA with the request that Brazilian vessels operated by the WSA be allocated for that purpose. He stated that this request should be set forth in emphatic language and that owing to the pressure under which WSA is operating in Washington, if a reply is not received within a reasonable time a request for a reply should be sent by cable.

I mentioned to Mr. Black that we had received no reply to a cable sent on behalf of all government agencies here regarding the allocation of vessel space to transport cargo from Rio to Bahia. Mr. Black stated that he knew it was the policy of the WSA to decline to consider favorably any measure that might delay American vessels and he pointed out that this was quite a different matter from an application for the allocation of Brazilian ships to be operated in Brazilian coastwise trade in the interests of our government agencies.

Mr. Black intimated that owing to the high cost of operation and their slow speed, there might be some disposition on the part of the WSA to turn back to the Brazilian Government all Brazilian flag ships now operated by the WSA, with the distinct understanding that these vessels should be used exclusively in Brazilian coastwise trade [Page 736] and should not be employed in off-shore trade, such as that offered by high freight rates to South Africa. I suggested to Mr. Black that there might be some difficulty in making arrangements under those terms since the Brazilian Government might take the position that if the United States did not require the vessels in question as a war measure, they should be returned to Brazilian operation without any exception whatever, that is, that the Brazilian Government might in all probability oppose, for obvious reasons, any requirement that once they are returned to Brazilian operation, the Brazilians should not have exclusive control of such operations.

H[arold] S. T[ewell]
  1. Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Brazil in his despatch No. 12604, September 6; received September 13.
  2. Airport Development Program.
  3. Probably United States Engineers.
  4. Service Especial de Saude Publica.