Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for American Republic Affairs (Braden) to the Under Secretary of State (Acheson)


During March the Paraguayan Government requested the United States, Brazilian and Argentine Governments to supply it with certain arms (we were asked for tanks and advanced trainers) to help suppress what it termed a Communist revolt. All three Governments declined. More recently the Paraguayan Government has made efforts to purchase from private sources in the United States advanced trainers and machine gun ammunition; and it has formally requested the Department to license the export of these arms.

Ambassador Beaulac believes that we should, as a matter of general policy, license the export of arms during times of domestic revolt to recognized, friendly and cooperative American Governments; and that the Paraguayan Government should receive arms under this general rule. I attach a copy of his memorandum dated April 2130 which sets forth these views.

I have reached the conclusion that we should not license the export of arms to the Paraguayan Government at this time because:

Our motives would be interpreted by various unfriendly groups as intervention in Paraguay’s internal affairs aimed at propping up a “reactionary dictatorship” by the suppression with United States arms of a “popular revolt.” There is a danger that this charge might gain considerable acceptance throughout the Hemisphere and that faith and confidence in United States principles and motives would be impaired.
Our arms would probably be used to kill Paraguayans, perhaps including non-combatants. This would tend to stigmatize the United States in the minds of many people.
Our action might in the future be used by other American Governments (such as Argentina) as a precedent for supporting with arms to their selfish political advantage governments opposed by the popular will.

I recognize that the Paraguayan political picture shows a potential Communist danger, but I do not believe that the danger can now be said to be sufficiently certain or immediate to justify us in incurring these hazards. We may soon have to take the initiative in working out a program to combat Communist tactics in this Hemisphere, but the program should, in my opinion, be an inter-American one which has been carefully considered by all concerned and which will have the support of not only the American Governments but of the people as well.

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I have indicated informally to the Paraguayan Chargé31 the possibility of inter-American consultation on the arms question. I said that we were not presently disposed to take the initiative in arranging for consultation if the Paraguayan Government was opposed to the idea. That Government has now replied that it is opposed to consultation; it has not renewed its request for export licenses.


I recommend that we continue to decline to approve export license applications for arms to be shipped to Paraguay. If the situation changes, the problem can be reexamined. This memorandum is submitted to you since it may conflict with broad policy at some point.

  1. Not printed.
  2. César R. Acosta.