254. Memorandum of a Conversation, Laranjeiras Palace, Rio de Janeiro, August 5, 1958, 11 a.m.1



  • “Operation Pan-America”


  • US
    • The Secretary
    • Ambassador Briggs
    • Mr. Rubottom
    • Mr. Mann
    • Mr. DeSeabra (Interp.)
  • Brazil
    • President Kubitschek
    • Foreign Minister Negrao de Lima
    • Ambassador Peixoto
    • Finance Minister Lucas Lopes
    • Dr. Roberto Campos (Interp.)

After welcoming the Secretary to Brazil, President Kubitschek began reading an excerpt from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson in 17872 to the effect that Brazil and the United States, as the two greatest powers of the New World, should always stand together. Taking this as his general thesis the President proceeded to outline “Operation Pan-America,” with the anticipated emphasis on underdevelopment as the root of all evil and its cure as the most important problem facing the American Republics, both individually and in their relationship with each other. The President stated that he had been impelled by Vice President Nixon’s experience to write to President Eisenhower and had been greatly encouraged by the latter’s response.3 Brazil’s discussions with other Latin American countries convince her that [Page 697] economic problems are overriding everywhere. This is the opportune moment to attack those problems and by bringing faith to the task, he declared we can build strongly for the future in the Western Hemisphere.

President Kubitschek’s plan is set forth in a memorandum describing proposed “methodology” which the President said he believes would be a useful document for basic study.4 Should this document be agreeable to the United States, Kubitschek offered to have it circulated to the other 19 Republics with a view to setting up under OAS auspices in the second half of September a “Committee of 21” which would make an intensive study of the problems of underdevelopment and their solution.

This study would be preliminary to a meeting either of Foreign Ministers or of Chiefs of State (Kubitschek still prefers the latter) at which, following appropriate studies of economic and other problems, a “Declaration of Heads of State” would be proclaimed. Copies of these two draft documents were provided in Portuguese and English.

In addition President Kubitschek submitted a draft joint communiqué, largely on the subject of “Operation Pan-America” and he explained that he would be grateful for any suggestions in the direction of reaching an agreed text.5 He also mentioned a second communiqué (no text supplied) on the subject of US-Brazil bilateral questions.6

At the conclusion of his observations and again shortly before the end of the meeting President Kubitschek emphasized that the first step was to agree on the major aspects of an economic program (to solve the economic crisis) and second to consider the draft declaration of Presidents.7 (Note: The text contains no direct reference to communism.)

[Page 698]

The Secretary replied that he welcomed the opportunity to discuss these important problems and that he interpreted the President’s proposals as a call for action in both political and economic fields. However, he believed it is an oversimplification to say that the communist problem can be solved by solving the problem of underdevelopment. Highly developed countries such as Italy and France also have acute communist problems. Communism must be opposed “on all fronts and by all means”. The strongest element is faith: the creative power of free men. The spiritual values of free men should be stressed.

The United States accordingly believes in assisting free men, and that includes cooperative efforts to combat underdevelopment. In this respect Latin America is a key area insofar as American policy is concerned and our record supports this.

As to procedures, the United States is in general accord with the philosophy underlying the Brazilian suggestions but believes careful study and preparation on the diplomatic level should take place. This preparation might include a meeting of Foreign Ministers, and should a Chief of State meeting take place the Secretary agreed it should represent the culmination of activities. However, our efforts should not be limited to economic problems but should also include those in the political field.

President Kubitschek expressed agreement with the Secretary’s thesis that underdevelopment is not the only factor facilitating communist penetration.

The Secretary then suggested greater Brazilian activity in combatting communism, and he recalled the American Government offer to collaborate with a special agency of the Brazilian Government.

The President replied that he envisages three steps in attacking communism:

(1) combat underdevelopment; (2) “repressive measures” (the President said that he had little faith in existing machinery and implied—but did not promise—he would move forward in this field); (3) education.

The Secretary then referred to the sound ideas of Finance Minister Lucas Lopes and to the necessity of taking steps in the economic field which would make government economic collaboration effective. He warned against the pitfalls of inflation, unbalanced budgets, etc., and then, referring to the development of the United States in the last century, pointed out that development of resources is primarily a job for private capital. A government can help and the American Government desires to continue to do so. Brazil holds a special place in our interest and attention, and he assured the President that the views he had expressed and the draft documents submitted would receive our [Page 699] urgent attention.8 In this connection the Secretary referred to the desirability of maintaining the momentum thus far generated by President Kubitschek’s initiative so as to guarantee our ability to move forward.

Nodding in agreement the President said that the public expects concrete results. He then raised the question of public statements.

The Secretary said he has not sure how far it would be desirable to go, except along general lines, with publicity at this time.

The President restated his remarks about “two stages”:

which would include discussion with the other American Republics prior to the proposed establishment of the “Committee of 21” during which matters under discussion would be primarily economic, and
the political aspects of the inter-American relationship culminating in the proposed presidential declaration. The President also declared that he believed Brazil should be associated with the United States in presenting a collective viewpoint for discussion by the other Republics.

The Secretary said we are prepared to move “along those lines” but meantime he and his associates would wish to study the papers presented and to consider the suggestions embodied therein. We will undertake this study as quickly as possible. However, it would not be desirable for Brazil and the United States to appear to be getting too far ahead of the other members of the American family.9

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 110.11-DU/8–658. Confidential. Drafted by Rubottom and Briggs.
  2. Not further identified.
  3. Regarding this exchange of correspondence, see Documents 242 and 244.
  4. This memorandum is an undated aide-mémoire entitled “Pan-American Operation.” (ibid., Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 1079) A memorandum of conversation between Rubottom and Foreign Minister Negráo de Lima, August 6, outlines suggestions by Rubottom for changing the text of this draft. (ibid., CF 1075) Tedul 3 to USUN, August 14, contained the following statement regarding redraft of the Brazilian aide-mémoire: “Kubitschek has sent word to Ambassador via Foreign Minister that he is sincerely appreciative [of] our contributions for Brazilian aide-mémoire and intends to incorporate most suggestions in final document. Ambassador was assured any reference which could be interpreted as critical of US participation in economic development are being deleted.” (ibid., Central Files, 110.11-DU/8–1450)
  5. A memorandum of conversation (STB MC/18), August 6, between Secretary Dulles and President Kubitschek on this joint communiqué is ibid., 110.11-DU/8–658. For text of the joint communiqué on multilateral subjects issued at Brasilia, August 6, see Department of State Bulletin, August 25, 1958, p. 301.
  6. For text of the joint communiqué on bilateral subjects issued at Brasilia, August 6, see ibid., p. 302.
  7. A copy of the draft proclamation of the American heads of state is appended to the aide-mémoire cited in footnote 4 above.
  8. A copy of the draft statement handed by Lopes to Assistant Secretary Mann was transmitted with despatch 145, August 6. (Department of State, Central Files, 832.10/ 8–658)
  9. Two additional memoranda of this conversation cover other subjects. One, concerning meetings of OAS foreign ministers, contains the suggestion by Dulles “that consideration be given to modifying the OAS Charter in the sense of providing for meetings, perhaps informal, of OAS Foreign Ministers, along the line of the twice yearly NATO meetings.” The other memorandum, regarding U.S.-Brazil economic problems, states that President Kubitschek mentioned the following problem: “The Navy and Air Force are satisfied with the equipment recently declared available but the Army is not. Since the Army is not only important politically, but a key element in the support of his government, the President expressed the hope that the ‘inadequate’ military allocation be reconsidered.” (ibid., Conference Files: Lot 63 D 123, CF 1079)