231. Memorandum of Conversation1

SUBJECT

  • United States-Brazil Relations

PARTICIPANTS

  • Ambassador Roberto Campos of Brazil
  • ARA/P—Mr. J. F. King

Last night Ambassador Roberto Campos called to quiz me about a “press campaign” against Brazil being inspired by the United States Government, particularly the State Department. His main concern in the 30-45 minute conversation was that United States Government officials, by “overblowing” current United States-Brazil differences, were creating a situation where “animal reactions which cannot be controlled” might result. He made this point several times in the talk, insisting that the situation is getting dangerous.

He said that in the past week or so three reputable newsmen have come to him to express shock that State Department officials were talking so freely about the deterioration of United States-Brazilian relations. One, he said, indicated that his department sources (I’m pretty sure he was referring to me) seemed to be goading the reporter to take a hard line in his stories on the Attorney General’s visit to Brasilia.

I asked for specifics but what really seemed to be bothering him was President Kennedy’s comments on Brazil earlier this month, both at his press conference and during the questions and answers following his speech in New York to the Economic Club.2 As to who in the Department might be fomenting the hard line against Brazil, the Ambassador said it isn’t just Department officials but A.I.D. and Eximbank too. He said the three major newsmagazines and the major un-struck papers (with the exception of the Christian Science Monitor) had all taken the hard line against Brazil in recent weeks. This criticism was becoming “too humiliating,” he said.

The Ambassador at another point in the talk referred to the negotiations for a United States loan of $30 million to tide Brazil over the thin [Page 487]part of the new year. He said he sensed some foot-dragging by the United States Government on this, but conceded that holiday leaves may be responsible.

Throughout the talk the Ambassador kept referring to the United States Government’s preoccupation with inflation in Brazil and repeated his contention that we overlook his country’s solid growth in real terms, etc.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 611.32/12-2662. Official Use Only. Drafted by King on December 27.
  2. At his December 12 press conference President Kennedy expressed his “strong concern” with Brazil’s high rate of inflation, which he said was raising the Brazilian cost of living, reducing the effectiveness of U.S. economic assistance, contributing to the flight of capital from Brazil, and diminishing the stability of the state. (Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy, 1962, p. 871) At the Economic Club of New York on December 14, President Kennedy repeated these concerns. (Ibid., p. 549)