President Roosevelt to the President of Brazil (Vargas)96

My Dear Mr. President: I have received from the hands of Vice Admiral Ingram your very interesting and cordial letter of April 13, 194496a in which you set forth the need of the Brazilian Navy to strengthen its resources in order to meet the requirements of hemispheric defense. I was much impressed with your clear exposition of the strategic factors relating not only to the safety of South American waters but to Brazil’s responsibilities as well in the more comprehensive problem of hemispheric security.

I have noted with particular satisfaction the words of high praise in which you have referred to Vice Admiral Ingram and to the manner in which he has collaborated with the Brazilian Navy in the South Atlantic. It is gratifying to know that in his work in Brazil Vice Admiral Ingram has been true to the traditions of the American Navy.

I have discussed your letter in considerable detail with Vice Admiral Ingram. I can assure you that Brazilian requirements of additional warships are being given the most careful consideration by the appropriate officers of the United States Navy.

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While, as you point out, your request for naval ships is not great in comparison with the size of the United States Navy and its construction program, I feel certain that through your appreciation of the scope of the struggle in which we are presently engaged you will be aware of the fact that we are now employing our ships, particularly such types as cruisers and aircraft carriers, to the utmost. The extent of our construction program must be considered in the light of the stupendous and still uncertain demands of future operations. As you are aware, however, four ships of the destroyer escort type will shortly be transferred to Brazil under Lend-Lease. Furthermore, you may rest assured that the full naval requirements of Brazil will receive primary consideration at the first favorable moment.

I am not unmindful of the important role which Brazil must continue to play in securing this Hemisphere against possible future aggression. It necessarily follows that Brazil must be equipped in such a manner as to discharge so vital a responsibility promptly and effectively, should occasion arise. While it is with deep regret that I have to inform you that the strategic situation will not permit the transfer to Brazil at this time of the floating equipment requested, I suggest that conversations be undertaken between representatives of the armed forces of Brazil and the United States to make plans for the required degree of coordination and unity of action in both the immediate and the long-range future.97

When such staff conversations are held, it would appear desirable to consider, not only naval strength, but also the strength of ground and air forces. All three branches of the armed forces should be given consideration, in order that total fighting strength may be determined on the basis of the guiding principle of hemispheric defense. It seems obvious to me that some voluntary control along these lines is a condition precedent to laying the foundation for future peace. I make this suggestion because I want you to be assured that the United States has a direct interest in seeing that Brazil is adequately equipped to carry out its part in any arrangements that may be agreed upon.

History will surely take note that the turning point of the war in the European theater was coincident with the action of your government in providing bases and facilities which contributed so materially to the African campaign. I am deeply conscious, not only of the generous manner in which these bases and facilities were made available, but also of the efficient cooperation between the armed forces of Brazil and those of the United States in driving the enemy from the South Atlantic. It is my desire, therefore, that Your Excellency, [Page 585] and through you the people of Brazil, understand the appreciation of this Government, and of the American people, for the very tital aid that Brazil has contributed to our common fight against the Axis powers.

With renewed assurances [etc.]

[Franklin D. Roosevelt]
  1. Transmitted by the Secretary of State to Rio de Janeiro in instruction 6082, June 13, 1944.
  2. Not printed; in this letter the Brazilian President indicated that the most urgent requirements of the Brazilian Navy were two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, three escort destroyers, twelve smaller units of the 1500–ton size, two aircraft carriers, and a number of tenders, sweepers, and tugs (832.20/647).
  3. For correspondence on the inauguration of staff conversations and the determination of responsibility for negotiations on post-war defense in the Americas, see pp. 105 ff.