217. Telegram From the Embassy in Brazil to the Department of State1

1022. At President Goulart’s request, I spent hour and half with him today in Rio in informal discussion US-Brazilian relations. (Bond only other person present.) Conversation was entirely cordial and exceedingly frank throughout, with frequent reiteration by Goulart that he speaking with utmost candor because of seriousness situation in Brazil.

Goulart stressed at outset that, whatever I might be told by other members of government, political crisis resulting from Quadros resignation has by no means been resolved. He said present phase represents merely political truce between forces of moderation (represented by his government) and forces of right and left extremism which are threatening existence of regime. He estimated government might have another 60 to 90 days of grace in which to find solutions basic social and economic problems presently afflicting Brazilian people but that if it not able to do so, or at least to reverse present deteriorative trend, extremist forces would move against government precipitating crisis which would be much more serious than that of August-September and might even lead [Page 449] to revolution. He added that in view evident disposition Cubans, Soviet, ChiComs etc to intervene in such a situation, result might well be “another Korea”. He said he had accepted mixed presidential-parliamentary regime precisely in order avoid revolution, which his stopover in Rio Grande do Sul had convinced him was real possibility, since he convinced that revolution (even if he himself assumed its leadership) would be disastrous for Brazil.

Goulart emphasized situation particularly dangerous because prevailing economic injustices and social discontent being exploited by small but well-organized Communist minority to create pre-revolutionary situation. In this connection he said Fidel Castro has been tremendous asset to Communists, external as well as internal, by providing dramatic symbol of revolutionary aspirations of underprivileged masses throughout Latin America. He stated both Soviets and ChiComs making effective use this symbol, particularly in Brazilian Northeast. (At this point he remarked ChiComs now more interested in Cuba than in Formosa.) Regarding Cuban problem itself, Goulart expressed opinion Cuba retrievable and that time will be increasingly on side of US provided latter has patience to wait for situation Castro regime deteriorate under its own weight. If US will be patient, he said, time will prove to be more effective weapon than any missile. He expressed view US does itself great disservice by agitating Cuban problem since Latin American masses are instinctive on side of tiny Cuba whenever it menaced by colossus to North.

Principal point foregoing remarks clearly to underscore importance continued large-scale US assistance, without which he said his government could not survive present critical period. While expressing full awareness and appreciation past US aid to Brazil, Goulart said unfortunately such aid has not gained US any appreciable credit with masses of Brazilian people. He said he entitled speak for masses since he himself is man of people, who has consistently drawn his political support from working classes. He stated lower economic strata in Brazil have never been aware of US aid, fruits of which have never filtered down to their level in any form they could recognize. They consequently have had no defense against anti-US propaganda directed against alleged economic imperialism, trusts, profiteering, et cetera with which many Brazilian politicians (and he admitted he did not exclude himself from this category) have found it politically advantageous to associate themselves. He said it avails US nothing to have its case presented to Brazilian people by industrialists and other elements pro-US elite (i.e. Entreguistas) who have no credibility among lower classes. What is needed is to have US case, including facts regarding US aid, presented by spokesmen who belong to and are trusted by Brazilian working classes. He emphasized it is these elements which must be cultivated by US if it is to make any significant impact on course of events in Brazil today, since they are elements [Page 450] which, although still largely uncommitted, are in serious danger being won over by Communists. He urged that US therefore not only continue “massive” aid to Brazil but also that it do so in form and manner intelligible to Brazilian masses. In latter connection he emphasized importance applying such aid inter alia to meeting urgent social needs of lower economic classes in Brazil.

On basis his knowledge conditions in Uruguay and Argentina, he said he believed comparable conditions prevail throughout South America.

In further discussion Communist interest in Brazil, Goulart said he has received steady stream of proposals from Soviets since he took office looking toward expanded USSR-Brazil relations and he has also received during this period 20 invitations visit Cuba, none of which he has accepted.

On subject proposed visit to US, Goulart said he anxious meet with President Kennedy but that he preferred not try set definite date at this juncture. He acknowledged, however, that late January or early February might prove to be feasible from his point of view and he expressed hope President Kennedy could also pay early visit to Brazil, where he said he would be received with same popular acclaim as was President Roosevelt.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.32/10-2161. Secret.