209. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • Brazilian Finance Minister’s Call on President Kennedy


  • Deptel 1694 to Amembassy Rio de Janeiro d-5/18/612


  • The President
  • Finance Minister Clemente Mariani of Brazil
  • Secretary Dillon of Treasury
  • Special Ambassador Moreira Salles of Brazil
  • Charge d’Affaires Bernardes of Brazil
  • Assistant Secretary John Leddy of Treasury
  • Acting Assistant Secretary Coerr of State

Brazilian Minister of Finance Mariani, accompanied by Mr. Carlos Alfredo Bernardes, Charge, and Special Ambassador Moreira Salles, called on the President to express his deep personal appreciation of the U.S. Government’s handling of the Brazilian loan.3

In the course of the conversation, the President emphasized that in the negotiations the U.S. Government had completely avoided mention of political factors. He said the purpose of the United States in extending financial assistance to Brazil was to assist it to achieve economic progress and financial stability. This objective was doubly important because Brazil, in addition to being a friend of the United States, is the largest nation in Latin America. Now, however, that the decision on the loan had been taken, the President wanted Minister Mariani to consider some political difficulties that he faced. The President said he realized that Quadros had political problems in Brazil but he wanted the Finance Minister to know that he, too, had problems in the United States with relation to Brazil. He showed the Minister some press clippings, particularly an article from the Philadelphia Inquirer contrasting the U.S. loan to Brazil with Brazil’s recent assertion of neutrality vis-à-vis Cuba, and a Washington Post editorial of May 16, entitled “Raspberry from Brazil.” The President said [Page 436] the United States was interested in the Castro regime because it is a weapon used by international communism in its efforts to take over additional Latin American countries by internal subversion. The President pointed out that the primary threat is not to the United States but to Latin American nations. He declared that the U.S. view is that Castro is not a free agent or a traditional Latin American revolutionary but is for all practical purposes an agent of international communism. The President said that we recognized Quadros’ objections to the idea of military intervention in Cuba and that we understand those objections. We strongly believe, however, that this hemisphere must isolate Cuba and frustrate its use by international communism against other Latin American nations. He said that nations of the inter-American system obviously cannot achieve this objective unless they agree on the basic analysis of the situation in Cuba, and that such agreement is seriously prejudiced when the leader of the largest nation in Latin America asserts a strongly divergent view.

The Finance Minister said he thought that the U.S. newspapers’ view of Brazil’s “neutralism” was exaggerated. He pointed out that Quadros had publicly recognized and opposed the threat of “ideological intervention” in Cuba, which would indicate certain agreement with the U.S. view, and that the Brazilian Government was well aware that Castro’s May 1 description of Cuba as a “socialist” state actually meant, in communist parlance, a nation in a stage approaching communism. The Minister said that Quadros has to deal with considerable communist and leftist strength within Brazil. He declared that timely U.S. aid will give Quadros needed financial strength and will improve his ability to take a firmer political position vis-à-vis the communists. He emphasized that Quadros had been moving with increased rapidity away from his pre-electoral position in favor of Castro.

The President tore off a half sheet with the Philadelphia Inquirer clipping and gave it to the Finance Minister for Quadros.

The Finance Minister thanked the President for the frank expression of views which he said was most fitting between friends. He said he would fully report the conversation to President Quadros who would be keenly interested.

  1. Source: Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Brazil, February 25-May 31, 1961. Confidential. Drafted by Coerr.
  2. Reference is incorrectly dated; it should be dated May 16. (Department of State, Central Files, 732.5-MSP/5-1861)
  3. On May 17 Treasury Secretary Dillon and Finance Minister Mariani issued at Washington a joint announcement granting new and extending existing credits to Brazil by the United States and the IMF totaling $338.5 million. For text, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1961, pp. 355-357.