208. Memorandum From the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Coerr) to Acting Secretary of State Bowles1


  • President Quadros’ Attitude on Neutralism and Cuba

I have prepared the following summary with attached documents in response to the White House’s urgent request of this afternoon to receive them today:

As a presidential candidate, Quadros visited Cuba in April 1960 and initially voiced praise of it and saw no Communist infiltration in it, and later indicated displeasure that it had deviated from its initial inspiration to the point of endangering hemispheric security. He announced in October that, should he be elected, Brazil would pursue a policy of “absolute independence” and renew relations with the USSR and Bloc countries. He again praised Cuba in January 1961.

As president, Quadros devoted his inauguration speech of January 31 (Appendix A)2 chiefly to stating economic and financial difficulties and affirming sound policies to meet them. On February 3, however, he took steps to establish diplomatic relations with Bloc countries. On February 15, he exchanged friendly telegrams with the Presidents of Yugoslavia and Cuba as well as with Khrushchev. He also said Brazil would vote in favor of including in the UN agenda the question of admitting Communist China. In February 1961, Quadros granted an interview to the Director General of Cuba’s Prensa Latina and accepted from him a picture of Che Guevara (for preceding items, see Appendix B).

In his message to Congress in March 1961 (Appendix C), Quadros declared that Brazil 1) would assume a “more affirmative and independent” foreign policy; 2) would remain democratic and have a duty of “contributing toward …reduction of international tensions” 3) believed the best way to do so would be to establish advantageous contacts between “countries of divergent ideology” 4) could not ignore the “vitality and dynamism of the socialist states” and 5) would remain loyal to the inter-American system.

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On May 10, Quadros issued a press release on foreign policy (Embassy Rio telegram No. 1567, Appendix D)3 that, with regard to the Cuban situation, asserted Brazil would 1) support “self-determination” of Cuban peoples; 2) oppose any “foreign intervention, direct or indirect, to impose upon Cuba any form of government” and would consider military as well as economic and ideological intervention to be improper; 3) not recognize in any American state a political regime which results from clearly manifested interference by a foreign power (Embassy Rio telegram 1571).4 Our Ambassador commented that Brazil is continuing to sit on the fence, but “perhaps more on the western than eastern side.”

In April, Quadros joined with Argentine President Frondizi in a statement that, inter alia, praised the Alliance for Progress and urged the repelling of “direct or indirect interference of extra-continental factors” (Embassy Rio telegram No. 1480, Appendix E).5 In early May, he urged Cuban President Dorticos to treat the revolutionary prisoners with clemency, and he tacitly refused to respond to Dorticos’ ensuing condemnation of the United States (Embassy Rio airgram No. G-380, Appendix F).6 On the other hand, Quadros has sent a Brazilian trade mission to Moscow, has agreed to receive a Soviet cultural mission (Embassy Rio telegram No. 1558, Appendix G)7 at Rio and has invited President Tito to Rio.


In Embassy Rio telegram No. 1579 (Appendix H)8 of May 12, 1961, Ambassador Cabot expressed concern at the tendency to assist Quadros despite Quadros’ constantly manifested indications of neutralism. ARA believes it may be possible to exert pressure on Quadros against neutralism and in favor of a more pro-western attitude, but that the extent of United States commitment and Brazilian expectations regarding the currently considered financial package is so great that to cancel or delay it at this stage would result in Quadros’ becoming more rather than less neutralist. Quadros will continue to want our help, especially in the form of loans and PL-480. Working in our favor is a rising feeling in Brazil against Quadros’ foreign policy. We should carefully study how to strengthen this feeling and how to get the best use of our total bargaining position.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 732.5-MSP/5-1261. Secret. A copy was sent to the Latin American Task Force on May 15.
  2. Appendixes A-C are not printed.
  3. Dated May 10. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/5-1061)
  4. Dated May 11. (Ibid., 737.00/5-1161)
  5. Dated April 25. (Ibid., 632.35/4-2561)
  6. Dated May 3. (Ibid., 737.00/5-361)
  7. Dated May 9. (Ibid., 033. 6132/5-961)
  8. Dated May 12. (Ibid., 732.5-MSP/5-1261)