Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President
Subject: Effect in Brazil of Argentine Developments and Significance to Brazilian-American Relations of Possible Election of Vargas1 to Presidency
II. Significance to Brazilian-American Relations if Former President Vargas Is Reelected
Vargas has not as yet committed himself as a candidate for the presidency. Should he be elected, it would be through a democratic process on which the Army would insist. It seems probable that the Army and public opinion would prevent him from reestablishing a dictatorship such as existed prior to his overthrow in 1945. This would minimize unfavorable reaction to his election on the part of the American people.
In a talk with Mr. William Pawley, when the latter was Ambassador to Brazil, 1946–47, Vargas took pains to stress his basic friendship for [Page 760]the United States, emphasizing the role that he had played during the war when Brazil was an active participant.
Former President Vargas undoubtedly is the outstanding potential presidential candidate. He is an astute, clever and realistic politician. If he is elected, relations with the United States would probably not deteriorate. He at present advocates, possibly for reasons of domestic consumption, a socialistic and definitely nationalistic policy. If he becomes the next President he could be expected to follow such a line, which might run counter to the policies which we are attempting to propagate in the field of international trade.
Vargas undoubtedly would make aggressive and persistent claims upon the United States for financial and other types of assistance in recognition of Brazil’s contribution during the recent war and the generally held opinion that Brazil has a right to the position as the leading South American country, the United States’ “traditional ally”, and has a right to look to the United States for the maintenance of this position.
- Getulio Dornelles Vargas, former President of Brazil.↩