322. Memorandum of a Conversation, Department of State, Washington, January 6, 19561


  • President-elect Kubitschek’s Talk with the Secretary of State


  • The Secretary of State
  • The President-elect of Brazil Kubitschek
  • Ambassador João Carlos Muñiz of Brazil
  • Minister Barbosa da Silva
  • Roberto Campos
  • ARAHenry F. Holland
[Page 686]

After initial pleasantries the question of Communism [was?] raised. The President-elect of Brazil made more or less the following statements:

Before leaving Brazil he had a meeting with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Treasury. He did so because he wanted to be in a position to state with authority the position of the Brazilian Government with respect to Communism. He is considerably more concerned about the possibility of penetration of the Government by Communism than he is by the possibility of there being Communists scattered throughout the country.

The Communist Party in Brazil is a small minority. In the elections of 1946 they polled approximately 600,000. Their numbers have been diminishing since that time. When the Party was outlawed, they went underground and began to try to work through other parties, trying to select candidates for other parties. However, no candidate selected by the Communists has ever won an election.

Today the Communists in Brazil are politically of no importance. They are not even important as an active minority.

The President’s own position is well known. He is resolutely opposed to Communism. He has been criticized because of certain things regarding the Vice President. The Vice President is the head of the Labor Party which is the party which leads the fight against Communism.

The United States can be assured that the Government of Brazil will be determined to elevate living standards and to create economic progress in Brazil and will be opposed to Communism.

The President-elect asked the Secretary if he would comment on the world situation generally and, particularly, was he pessimistic about the future.

The Secretary said that there were many problems, but that he was neither frightened nor pessimistic. He pointed out that the Russians have gradually built up a considerable amount of industrialization, but they are unable to meet the needs of their own economy. He emphasized that the Russians in their offers of aid to other countries are carefully withholding this information from their own people because they fear that, if the Russian people were aware of the Russians’ offer of aid to other countries, it would cause widespread discontent within Russia itself.

The Secretary emphasized the need for close relations between Brazil and the United States. He said, that the United States should maintain with Brazil the same kind of relationships that we maintain with Canada. He pointed out that Canada and Brazil were somewhat alike in that each had been a nation with vast land expanses and great undeveloped resources. He pointed out that over the past fifteen or twenty years the economy of Canada had been greatly [Page 687] developed, new natural resources had been brought into exploitation and considerable industrialization had taken place. In fact, Canada is now becoming a rather highly industrialized country. This has been brought about in no small degree by the fact that the investors of Canada and the United States had worked closely together.

The Secretary said that he felt confident that there were substantial quantities of United States capital that would be glad to go to Brazil and make its contribution to the development of that country and under terms and conditions that would be acceptable to the Brazilians. He said that the United States investor would be willing to go abroad where he had assurances of fair treatment and security against expropriation.

The President-elect said that he would welcome the participation of American capital in the development of Brazil; that one of the primary purposes of his campaign was to establish that kind of political stability that would make Brazil interesting as a field for investment. He said that one of the reasons of his trip to the United States was to try to inspire confidence in the American business man. He said that during his campaign he had been the subject of many attacks. A number of people thought that he could be persuaded or influenced to reinstate or perpetuate the kind of dictatorship that existed under the Vargas regime; however, he had undertaken his campaign on a democratic basis and was determined to adhere to that in his government.

I asked permission to make a statement regarding Communism. I made more or less the following points:

Each of us has his own domestic Communist problem. Ours concerns us deeply and the remarks of the President-elect demonstrate that he is concerned about his. However, as a community of nations there is another aspect of Communism which must concern us on a joint basis; that is the aspect of Communism that is represented by its existence as an international, well-organized, well-financed conspiracy existing for subversive and intelligence purposes. We, Brazil, Mexico and certain other of the larger and stronger American nations are the principal objectives of the Communists. Within our territories are located the nerve centers which direct the operations of this international conspiracy throughout this hemisphere. Therefore, we have the responsibility not only for our domestic Communist problem, but also a responsibility as members of the inter-American Organization for combatting an international Communist organization that exists throughout the hemisphere. We as leading nations have an additional responsibility because the executive headquarters of the Communist conspiracy are situated in our various countries.

[Page 688]

I said that we feel that we know a substantial amount of facts regarding this international conspiracy. We know a good deal about the master plan which underlies its operation in the hemisphere. That plan has several objectives. One of them is to retard and obstruct economic development in each of the American republics. This is sought in order that, in the event of another war, we would be not either singly or as a group as strong an enemy as would be the case if our economic progress were to go ahead as rapidly as is entirely practical. I said that another objective of the international conspiracy is to separate each American state from every other American state in order that politically and in a military sense we would not be as strong or as coordinated an enemy in the event of another war.

In order to combat this international conspiracy which is aimed at the destruction of those values which we have achieved in this hemisphere and which is aimed to prevent our achieving the future that lies within our grasp, it is necessary that we progress simultaneously against Communism on three fronts. The first of these three fronts is that mentioned by the President-elect, the economic front. We must do what we can to raise living standards and to create in each American country a stable, self-reliant national economy.

The second of these three fronts is the ideological front. We must make sure that our people are aware of the moral, ethical and religious repulsiveness of Communism which makes it unacceptable to a Christian.

The third front and one whose importance we do not always appreciate is the technical front. You combat communism as an ideology or philosophy when you move on the economic and ideological front. However, you do not at all embarrass an international subversive organization of spies and subversive agents when you move on these first two fronts. In order to hinder and destroy that international conspiracy it is necessary to deprive it of the ability to move persons, to move funds, to move information and to obstruct its access to those means of publicity, without which sinews it cannot exist as an effective international conspiracy. I said that it was in our judgment very desirable that all of our governments coordinate their efforts very closely on this technical front in order to defeat and destroy this international subversive spy organization.

President-elect Kubitschek said that the Communists in Brazil were very able and active on the propaganda front; that they had been able to manufacture the nationalistic contention that “the petroleum is ours” and to convince a substantial sector of the people [Page 689] of the fallacy that development of the oil industry by foreign entities was prejudicial to Brazil.2

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 732.11/1–656. Secret. Drafted by Holland.
  2. Also on January 6, Kubitschek and his party held discussions at the Blair House regarding economic matters and the problem of communism with a group of American officials, including Holland, Dunn, and Bernbaum. A memorandum of the discussion pertaining to economic matters, drafted by Bernbaum, is ibid. A separate memorandum of the discussion on communism, drafted by Bernbaum, is ibid., Holland Files: Lot 57 D 295, Brazil.