246. Telegram From the Embassy in Brazil to the Department of State 1

1737. Department telegram 1417.2 Since March 21 when local press first reported drought conditions in Northeast, Embassy has closely followed developments and has at no time lost sight of possibility of US assistance, which has however thus far been limited to facilitating, responsive Brazilian request, shipment of approximately 1,000 tons dried milk for charitable organizations. We also collaborated, again at Brazilian request, in airlift for emergency supplies from Rio pending arrival ships. We have offered more—and on frequent occasions have reminded Brazil of our offers, but Brazilian Government has thus far, for reasons of its own probably including national pride, failed to accept our assistance.

On April 11 I informed President Kubitschek US stands ready to help. President replied that he was shortly visiting area and that he would let me know should assistance be needed. He has not done so.

On May 16 Embassy replied to Foreign Office note3 re 1,000 tons dried milk stating that as emergency measure authorization obtained under Title III [II?] PL 4804 and explaining procedures for future, available to Brazil under that legislation. Foreign Office has not replied. On same date, desiring reiterate our willingness to assist I sent personal letter to Foreign Minister5 which contained following paragraph:

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“I assure you my government is ready to consider sympathetically any request that may be made by your government for appropriate cooperation under the provisions of Public Law 480. American people deeply regret sufferings caused by drought and my government earnestly hopes that situation in Northeast will improve rapidly.” No reply received.

In absence from Rio of Foreign Minister I today called on Secretary General at Foreign Office, recounting foregoing developments and reiterating Washington willingness to be of service on request. I also informed him of receipt of two direct requests for aid, one from Governor of Paraiba and other from merchants association in Piaui to each of which Embassy replied by expressing sympathy and calling attention to US willingness provide food in event Federal Government so requested.

Moura expressed opinion government has situation in hand and conditions in area improving.

Embassy infers from all of foregoing that Brazilian Government thus far has not desired additional US assistance and furthermore that unsolicited public offer would probably not be well received and might even be offensive to GOB as implying it unable handle domestic situation with which because drought conditions recurring phenomena in Northeast it has had ample experience. Since early April Brazilian Government has shipped 360 million cruzeiros worth of foods to Northeast in addition to substantial commercial movement and NCWC and UNICEF milk. Federal work projects have employed large numbers displaced persons but reports indicate number is now decreasing as result resettlement other states and return to homes as scattered rains have improved pastures and drinking water.

Embassy believes privations and suffering probably continue in certain parts affected areas since that situation is unfortunately endemic in this large marginal agricultural zone. However Brazilian Government is extending relief and meanwhile it is seeking to focus its facilities for economic development in most promising areas rather than those which hold little immediate hope such as Northeast. Furthermore we believe GOB is reluctant to ask in effect for charity while at same time seeking extensive economic assistance for purposes which government considers more important. It has before it our offer set forth in writing and in many conversations during past 10 weeks. To go farther might be misinterpreted as seeking to shove relief down throat of friendly government.

Thus while I share humanitarian impulses which underlie our desire to aid, I do not believe that in the absence of Brazilian request GOB would well receive US initiative along lines suggested Department telegram. Should this view be modified by developments or [Page 685] should Brazilian Government respond to our pending offers with request for assistance, then I hope Washington can act promptly, effectively and with full measure of good will situation may demand.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 411.3241/6–1758. Confidential; Priority.
  2. In telegram 1417, June 12, the Department asked the Embassy in Brasilia for its views on a possible public offer from the White House of U.S. assistance to Brazil for drought relief. (ibid., 411.3241/6–358)
  3. The Brazilian Foreign Office note, May 2, and U.S. Embassy reply, May 16, have not been found in Department of State files.
  4. Reference is to the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act of 1954, approved July 10, 1954; for text, see 68 Stat. 454.
  5. Not found in Department of State files.