186. Telegram From the Embassy in Brazil to the Department of State 1
2084. Please pass White House.
It has been reported by press that second Army Commander Kruel recently told Goulart that he could not assure security of President if latter attended planned May 1 rally in Sao Paulo. On this basis, it is widely believed that Kruel’s ouster as second army commander may be imminent.
Comment: If Goulart were to try to remove Kruel from second army command it is not certain that he would go quietly. Efforts have recently been made both by Adhemar and democratic military leaders to secure Kruel’s adherence to opposition side.
On March 20 Army Chief of Staff Humberto Castello Branco sent letter to generals and other officers of army headquarters and subordinate units (i.e. most senior officers other than those in major commands) analyzing current situation in country and strongly upholding army’s traditional role as a non-partisan defender of democratic institutions. Letter (of which [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has acquired copy) is anti-Communist and by obvious implication anti-Goulart, condemning, for example, unattributed intentions of closing Congress and calling Constituent Assembly.
Comment: Castello Branco, who is perhaps Brazil’s most energetic, courageous and responsible army general on active service, is reported by ARMA [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] recently to have agreed to lead democratic resistance group in military. In his letter he is assuming this leadership and throwing his own very considerable prestige against Goulart in direct challenge to latter.
- According [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], WarMin Jair currently in hospital for gall bladder operation learned of letter only on March 24, on eve his operation. He was furious and almost called off operation. According ARMA, who got it from Army Chief Surgeon, Jair recovering well but under any hypothesis will be away from work for at least 30 days.
According ARMA, who has obtained copies of documents in question, leaders of Democratic Military Group are sending by safe-hand to officers sympathetic to their cause throughout Brazil 3 questionnaires, which are in reality instructions telling them how to put their units in readiness to resist undemocratic moves by President and/or left. Second “questionnaire” which is intended only for most trustworthy officers, suggests that responsibility for giving signal for action against regime should be vested in single senior officer.
Comment: This single senior officer will presumably be understood to be General Castello Branco.
General Comment: While above mentioned events are encouraging in showing better leadership and new elements of organization among democratic military resistance group, they also obviously introduce short-term factors of instability into situation.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 BRAZ. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Passed to White House. The telegram is based in part on information reported independently by the U.S. Army Attaché, Vernon A. Walters. According to Walters the conspirators had agreed on seven grounds that could trigger a revolt. When they appealed for U.S. assistance, however, Walters explained that he had “no authority to discuss such matters.” Walters noted that he had “passed information on to Ambassador who is taking matter up at highest levels.” (Telegram DISC D–20 from Rio de Janeiro to the Department of the Army, March 26; ibid., POL 23–9 BRAZ)↩