201. Teleconference Between the Department of State and the Embassy in Brazil1
Ball, Adams and Burton will be at 1500Z teleconference here. Same rules as yesterday.2 All messages considered Secret and Exdis.
Secretary also present this end.
Secretary requests brief situation report as of this hour.
- Briefly, what is situation at this hour?
- What is present attitude first army?
- Where is Kubitschek at present? Did you meet with him last night?
- Will the momentum continue on the anti-Goulart side without some covert or overt encouragement from our side? Sec 5 Any signs of hostility toward American personnel? Sec 6 Are fourth army and Rio Grande do Sul supporting Goulart? Sec 7 On our Sec 6 change “fourth army” to “third army.” Sec 8
Have any leaders of rebellion pressed you for overt support? Would overt indication our support play into Goulart’s hands at this moment?
We have nothing further here. Do you have anything further?
If you have nothing further we terminate conference. Thanks very much.
Ambassador Gordon, Minister Mein, Mr. Gresham present.
This is Ambassador Gordon.
Hard news is that Kruel and second army as well as Alves Bastos and fourth army in Pernambuco have declared for rebellion. Fourth army has taken over Governor’s palace in Recife.
Favorable rumors include:
- Second army past Rezende on border Sao Paulo state of Rio and moving toward this city. Expected arrive some time this late afternoon.
- Possible joining of rebellion by first army forces sent toward Minas last night.
- Stories inside Agencia Nacional that high command officer corps resolved not to fight rebellion.
- Refusal Gen Oromar Osorio of Vila Militar to permit marines to arrest Lacerda who still barricaded in Guanabara Palace.
Unfavorable rumors are:
- That Brizola forces have occupied all Rio Grande do Sul radio stations.
- That third army in far south loyal to Goulart and moving north against Sao Paulo.
Congress awaiting military resolution of events and appears disposed legitimize whatever emerges.
Navy friends tell us of effort to get three destroyers and submarine out of Guanabara Bay. Not yet successful. If successful may need diesel fuel for sub.
CGT has called general strike on nationwide basis but without visible effects in Sao Paulo. This ends Rio 1.
Garble above refers to report from navy friends that they trying to send three destroyers and one submarine out of Guanabara Bay.
Above replies to Sec 3. On Sec 4 para B has been very hard get intelligence on first army. Ministry of War completely shut off from access and surrounded by tanks and armored cars. Agencia Nacional rumors reported above purport to come from inside phone messages but we unable confirm at this time.
I met Kubitschek at 2115 and drafted message which apparently not sent during last night’s confusion. Essence was much less complacency re outcome than yesterday morning3 and wonderment that Sao Paulo had not yet moved. This now overtaken by events with Kruel and Adhemar statements and actual move by second army. Kubitschek said that move from Sao Paulo would be critical to success and if rebellion smothered Goulart would be on high road to dictatorship.
We discussed legitimacy problem which he thought would be readily cared for by Congress if military balance favorable. He had seen Goulart in midafternoon and pleaded with latter to save mandate by making clean break with CGT and Communists but Goulart said this would be sign of weakness which he could not afford.
Momentum now clearly gathered and for these hours does not need special encouragement from US.[Page 442]
Have just learned that Kubitschek conversation report was sent last night as Embtel 2134.4
Flash [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has just received report from usually reliable source that General Jair has sent note to Goulart saying he is breaking with him and will urge army troops loyal to him, Jair, to unite and join forces with Kruel. If this is true it should have profoundly favorable influence on outcome.
Re Sec 5 there are no such signs of hostility.
Re Sec 6 we have only unfavorable rumor re third army reported above.
Sec 7 is last received from you. This ends Rio 2.
Except for Adhemar and some of his fellow Paulistas who continue talking unclearly about arms needs and possible desirability of show of naval force there has been no pressing for overt support. I do not consider Paulista approaches as serious or responsible. At this moment overt indication our support would be a serious political error which would play into Goulart’s hands. We shall of course continue focussing on this question hourly as situation evolves. This ends Rio 3.
Sec 8 received and answered by Rio 3. This ends Rio 4.
Nothing more now. This terminates teleconference.
- Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64. Secret; Exdis. According to Rusk’s Appointment Book, Rusk met Ball and U. Alexis Johnson at 10 a.m. for the teleconference to Rio. (Ibid.)↩
- The Department stated the rules as follows: “During telecon request you number conference items sequentially preceded by geographic indicator ‘Rio’. Dept will number sequentially preceded by ‘Sec’.” (Telegram 1299 to Rio de Janeiro, March 31; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 2 BRAZ)↩
- In a conversation with James Minotto, staff member to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Kubitschek said that “for practical purposes situation all over. There was going to be successful coup against Goulart, resistance to which would be general strike lasting two or three days. Workers, however, would go back to work when they got hungry.” Kubitschek also reported that he told Goulart that “he was breaking with him since President following course which would lead to turning country over to Communists.” (Telegram 2126 from Rio de Janeiro, March 31; ibid., POL 23–9 BRAZ)↩
- Dated April 1. (Ibid.)↩