Miller Files, Lot 53 D 26

The Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Miller) to the Ambassador in Brazil (Johnson)


Dear Herschel: I have 20 minutes in which to dictate a report giving you the highlights of Lafer’s visit which will be signed by my secretary after she transcribes it. I am off for a brief trip to Venezuela to attend the National Petroleum Convention1 for four days and will be back in my office on Thursday morning, the 20th.

Oakley Brooks2 has undoubtedly filled you in on many of the details. In my opinion, Lafer’s visit was well-timed and highly successful. He, Boucas and Moreira Salles appeared to be immensely pleased with the outcome of the trip. Even though they have obtained merely reaffirmations of what they previously had, the willingness of the Banks to go along with the public statement3 about the financing of the foreign exchange costs of the transportation program is a definite step forward. It was very good to have Brooks here, and especially his presence in Washington the week before Lafer’s arrival permitted us to lay the groundwork with key people such as Black, Martin and Thorp, as well as with Secretary Snyder through Martin.

It was extremely fortunate that Burke Knapp arrived here last Monday in time to play a decisive part in clearing the financing statement with both Banks. The almost unique situation which he enjoys in having the trust of Black and Garner4 on the one hand and being favorably known to Thorp, Martin, Gaston, etc., on the other enabled him to do what few, if any other, people could have done. The Brazilians were tremendously impressed by his ability to jump right into the breach and he has already made a notable contribution in his future task. I cannot stress too strongly how much I myself have been impressed [Page 1223] by Knapp this week. I had been getting increasingly disturbed by a tendency on the part of a number of people in Rio to underestimate Knapp. I believe that his opportunity to work with Lafer and Boucas here has been most constructive. I do not intend in saying this to detract in the slightest to Merwin Bohan’s tremendous job in holding the fort. He has certainly won in a short time a permanent place in the hearts of the Brazilians.

In addition to the financing problem, Lafer raised two other points:

Lafer dragged out again the old idea about a bilateral supply agreement which had been kicked around during the Foreign Ministers Conference ad nauseum and finally buried, I had thought, for good with the formation of the Joint Emergency Group on Scarce Materials. I explained to Lafer in detail why such an agreement was out of the question and he readily agreed indicating that he was really only going through the motions.
[Here follows a personal reference.]
The Minister asked me to take him off the hook with a simple letter5 which I drafted up in consultation with him and had signed today by the Secretary.
Lafer also raised the old chestnut about our activities in EGA (more Campos, no doubt). He again indicated that he was going through the motions and that he simply wanted to be gotten off the hook. As of this writing I believe we have satisfied him with a memorandum5 about TCA and ECA activities in underdeveloped areas other than Latin America which I have transmitted to him. I have told him that he could make public use of both this letter and the one from Secretary Acheson. My secretary will forward under separate cover copies of all three documents as soon as they are all in final form.
In addition we have discussed a number of other things at random with Lafer. We have talked to him about specific supply problems, including sulphur, and have put Boucas in touch with Courand. He has talked with Black about the caustic soda plant at Cabo Frio. We have explained to him our difficulties with the Treasury with regard to a double taxation treaty and he was to have discussed this with Secretary Snyder today. I have urged that, despite our inability to sign the type of tax treaty which Brazil wants, it would be in Brazil’s own interest to sign a treaty of friendship, commerce and economic development. He expressed agreement. I have talked to him about petroleum and have given him a copy of an excellent speech made by Secretary Chapman6 on Monday at the Petroleum Convention in Venezuela to which I am going tonight. I think the fact that I will go to Venezuela just for the convention has impressed him.

In the meantime we are continuing our conversations with General Goes Monteiro and I will ask Ed Jamison to send you an interim report next week. Last Monday, Lafer’s first day in Washington, General Goes Monteiro gave a luncheon for General Marshall. Before the luncheon he took me aside and said that his success in getting Brazil to go [Page 1224] along with us on a program of military cooperation depended upon the success of Lafer’s negotiations. I told him not to worry about Lafer’s negotiations and my prediction has come true. Now we will see whether General Goes Monteiro will buckle down. Recently the conversations have been making much more sense and I am hopeful that the General will go back with something concrete in his pocket. Lafer is going to check with the General before he leaves Washington and will advise Randy7 of his impressions.

Throughout his visit Lafer has been considerate of our position, reasonable in every way and a thoroughly satisfactory and effective person with whom to deal. His success here like that of Joao Neves—but more so in this case since Neves was handicapped by deafness—shows that if Brazil will send people of good will and energy who will apply themselves to the problem at hand and take our problems into account, they will get what they want in contrast to those whose approach is to browbeat us and spew forth their queixis about things that happened years ago. Incidentally, Lafer has not at any time called upon the Brazilian Embassy here for any assistance.

[Here follow personal references.]

The foregoing is a hasty outline of recent events but you will find Oakley Brooks’ oral report most interesting, I am sure. Incidentally, I am delighted that Oakley is in this picture and am certain that he will be a tower of strength on the Commission,

With kindest regards,

Sincerely yours,

Edward G. Miller, Jr.
  1. The Venezuelan National Petroleum Convention met at Caracas, September 8–18, 1951.
  2. Banking Adviser to the United States section, Joint Brazil–United States Commission for Economic Development.
  3. For the text of this statement, which was dated September 14 and released to the press by Minister Lafer upon his return to Rio de Janeiro, see Department of State Bulletin, October 8, 1951, pp. 581–582.
  4. Robert L. Garner, Vice President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Oscar L. Chapman, Secretary of the Interior.
  8. Randolph A. Kidder.