811.24532/8–2745: Telegram

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

2685. Pan American manager39 came in to discuss rollup of Navy and Army turnover of air bases. This was plainly on instructions from Washington. He stated that Pan-Air40 had responsibility as against Brazil for turning over these air bases to Brazilian Govt, and protecting U.S. commercial rights therein under outstanding Brazilian decree-law. Accordingly he asked representation in arrangements made with Brazilian authorities.

Today Captain Lanigan, in charge Navy rollup program, showed me instruction he has received from Navy stating it was considered desirable for Commander, South Atlantic Forces and Commanding General, United States Armed Forces, South Atlantic to discuss matters with Brazilian Air Minister41 for purpose of protecting commercial rights Pan American Airways with Pan American representative participating in discussions.

Both local Pan American manager and Navy Captain are unaware of agreement between Pan American Airways and War Dept. which was later re-negotiated42 providing that commercial air rights in these bases are subject to determination by U.S. Pan American is obviously endeavoring to try to make good on the ground the attempt they earlier made to secure exclusive commercial rights in the airports constructed with U.S. money. They have of course a perfect right to assure continued operation in some fashion of facilities needed by them for their air route; and obligation rests on U.S. to see that American commercial air rights are protected.

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I propose to discuss forthwith understanding with Brazilian Govt, that these fields when turned over shall be available for American use in accordance with terms of Civil Air Agreement which I understand is on the way down. One term of either Army or Navy rollup ought to be that by acceptance of the bases Brazilian Govt, terminates any responsibility which Pan-Air may have to deliver these bases, thus clearing their record. Though Army turnover is still some time off, Navy has already turned over Santa Cruz field and Caravellas, and is about to turn over Maceio.

Plainly Pan American without consulting State made representations to Navy about its rights in these ADP43 bases, and apparently did not inform Navy of the provisions of the contract with War Dept. as re-negotiated. It will be recalled that ADP contracts were under investigation by Truman Committee and Army invoked secrecy as reason for non-disclosure.44 Believe whole situation should be canvassed between State, War, and Navy. Lovett45 and Brownell,46 War Dept., are fully conversant with matter.

  1. H. W. Toomey, Regional Director, Pan American Airways System.
  2. Pan Air do Brasil, a subsidiary of Pan American Airways System.
  3. Dr. Joaquim Pedro Salgado Filho.
  4. For substance of contracts relating to airfield construction in Latin America, see Stetson Conn and Byron Fairchild, The Framework of Hemisphere Defense pp. 251–254.
  5. Airport Development Program.
  6. The Truman Committee, a Special Senate Committee investigating the National Defense Program, received copies of the original Agreement of November 2, 1940, and supplementary agreements through June 1943, as enclosures to a letter dated August 13, 1943, from Julius H. Amberg, Special Assistant to the Secretary of War, to Hugh Fulton, Chief Counsel of the Committee (810.79611 Pan American Airways/3429.) A copy of this letter was received in Mr. Berle’s office as Assistant Secretary of State on October 28, 1943, but he may not have been aware of it, or he may have been referring here to the opposition by the War and Navy Departments, subsequently supported by President Roosevelt, to the Committee’s proposal in 1944 to have the security classification removed from the documents.
  7. Robert A. Lovett, Assistant Secretary of War for Air.
  8. Col. George A. Brownell, Executive Officer, Office of the Assistant Secretary of War for Air.