839.24/3–2646: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chargé in Brazil ( Daniels )


425. Embtel 576 Mar 26.32 Please call at once on FonOff and explain that this Govt’s attitude concerning Dominican arms shipment seems to have been misunderstood. In conversation Mar 2533 at which this subject was discussed, Braden began by saying that he wanted to make it clear to Ambassador Martins in first place that US Govt of course did not wish to impose on Braz Govt any course of action that would be embarrassing to it. He went on, however, to set forth very strong reasons why this Govt felt that proposed sale should not take place (Deptel 394 Mar 20) and concluded by expressing hope that Braz Govt might find it possible to withdraw from this deal.

You should emphasize that far from agreeing that sale is unimportant this Govt views it as fraught with grave possibilities and Dept feels you would be justified in discussing situation direct [Page 823] with Neves da Fontura.34 Amounts of arms involved are very large indeed in comparison with size of Dominican Army and population of country (two rifles per soldier and three times as many cartridges as there are people). Regardless of size of shipment, US and Great Britain were unwilling to take the responsibility of supplying such munitions, which are not required for hemisphere defense and which can only be used either against Haiti or the Dominican people.

You should comment that as early as Feb 18 (urtel 351 Feb 1835) Berle expressed to Gracie this Govts interest in rumors that Dominican representatives would attempt to obtain arms in Brazil and that Gracie replied that he was quite sure there was no foundation to such rumors insofar as Brazil was concerned. The concern expressed by you to Gracie on Mar 18 at information that proposed sale was about to be consummated could not therefore have come as any surprise to Braz Govt, nor could suggestion of Military Attaché to Minister of War for temporary suspension of sale.

Decision is of course one for Braz Govt to make but it should be made clear that US Govt would view with anxiety purchase of these arms and ammunition by Dominican Republic. Repeated to Ciudad Trujillo.

  1. Not printed; the Charge in Brazil reported that the Secretary General of the Brazilian Foreign Office (Gracie) informed him of Brazilian Ambassador Martins’ report, after consulting Department, as follows: “He said that Martins had reported that Department had expressed some objections to proposed deal as those I had brought to his attention earlier; but that if negotiations had advanced so far that to cancel them would be awkward and embarrassing, Department would reluctantly accept the outcome. Gracie again stressed unimportance of deal and this time gave the impression that Brazil, feeling bound by previous commitments made under previous government, would feel obliged to go through with deal.” (839.24/3–2646)
  2. Memorandum of conversation of March 25, not printed.
  3. The Chargé reported in telegram 589, March 28, 6 p.m., on his conversation that afternoon with Foreign Minister Neves da Fontoura who said that refusal to go through with the deal would put his Government in a position of failing to live up to its commitments, which it felt a certain obligation to do, but he mentioned possibility of perhaps scaling down somewhat total amounts of rifles and ammunition (839.24/3–2846).

    In telegram 610, April 1, 9 p.m., the Chargé reported that the Foreign Minister had told him that afternoon that Dominican arms sale had been reduced from 10,000 to 6,000 rifles, and from 5 million to 3 million cartridges (839.24/4–146).

  4. Not printed.