205. Teleconference Between the Department of State and the Embassy in Brazil1

  • Sec 1

    Participants in Washington:

    Under Secretary Geo. Ball; Deputy Under Secretary U.A. Johnson; Mr. Burton; Mr. Sloan (DOD)

  • Sec 2

    NSC meeting here 1700Z on Brazil. Do you have statement to suggest for White House or State Department and your view as to what level we should play this. We do not want to tie President on prematurely.

    End Sec 2.

  • Sec 3

    MAP civic action and military spare parts cargoes are on ships Del Sud arriving Rio 8 April, Del Mundo arriving Recife 3 April, Mormon Hawk arriving Rio 10 April and Del Sol arriving Recife 13 April. Will presume you have no objection to cargo being landed unless you advise otherwise.

    End Sec 3.

  • Sec 4

    Who likely to be FinMin in Mazzilli government? What will be chances for a serious effort to put financial affairs in order during next 30 days of political campaigning?

    End Sec 4.

  • Sec 5.

    What is your assessment of Mazzilli? Is he apt to stand for election at end of constitutional 30 day period? Who are other likely contenders for presidency?

    End Sec 5.

  • Sec 6

    Since Naval task force will not be approaching northern Brazilian waters until April 4 we are not now planning to take any action turn it back for another 24 hours unless you think otherwise.

    End Sec 6.

  • Sec 7

    Share your concern that Mazzilli election be fully constitutional and approve action you have taken. We can avoid statement here until you think it desirable in light situation there. However, would appreciate soonest your draft for message from the President to Mazzilli for despatch at such time as you recommend. If you believe that additional White House or Department statement would be desirable I would also appreciate your recommendations on text.

    End Sec 7.

  • Sec 8

    Four Navy tankers in loading and movement process. Schedule of arrivals in Santos area and description of loading on each ship will be sent you immediately. We concur they should continue. Will advise further on recall of Task Force.

    [Page 450]

    End Sec 8.

  • Sec 9

    We have nothing further here. Do you?

    Please be sure to have sitrep sent to us 30 minutes in advance of 1900Z telecon, since Ball and others will be briefing Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 2000Z.

    All messages in telecon should be considered Secret and Exdis.

    End Sec 9.

  • Sec 10

    Ref Rio 7.

    Yes we will work out wider distribution here.

    All right to send sitrep by telegram for wider distribution provided no reference made therein to covert operations or US military activities.

    End Sec 10.

[Omitted here is text of Situation Report as of 1100 hours.]

  • Rio 2

    This is Ambassador Gordon. I am troubled about questionable juridical situation surrounding early morning installation of Mazzilli as Acting President. Declaration by Congress and Senate President Moura Andrade that presidency vacant was not backed by congressional vote. Supreme Court President did preside over swearing in of Mazzilli but it was not backed by Supreme Court vote. If Goulart leaves Brazil without permission from Congress he automatically forfeits office under Article 85 of Constitution. In absence of that, however, I believe it most desirable that Congress legitimize situation by some sort of vote and that this be done before Pres Johnson send any telegram to Mazzilli.

    I have so advised Dean in Brasilia and he is seeking out various congressional leaders in order impress on them importance from international viewpoint of clear congressional legitimation. Will report results as soon as available.

    New subject is Navy Task Force described Deptels 1301 and 1305.2 I believe this should now be recalled with avoidance any showing in Brazilian waters or public information of its having been despatched. Navy tankers on other hand should be kept heading this way until oil supply situation clarified. If Brizola led resistance movement in RGS3 does not evaporate, POL may be needed there. Also morning radio reports indicate that large Duque de Caxias refinery here still under [Page 451] Commie control and they preventing operation. On other hand smaller local Manguinhas refinery apparently operating about half capacity. Sabotage danger Petrobras refineries cannot yet be discounted. Please inform types and quantities POL contained Navy tankers referred para 1 Deptel 1301. This ends Rio 2.

  • Rio 3

    Sitrep was sent as advance material and supplemented by my Rio 1.

    Did you receive this? We would like brief time to reflect on question White House or State Dept statement. Preferring if possible to hold off until situation in RGS and prospects congressional action referred Rio 2 are clearer. How much time can you give us before some sort of statement may be unavoidable? [End Rio 3.]

  • Rio 4

    ARMA just returned from seeing Castello Branco who reports whole country quiet except Porto Alegre. There Brizola still in control having claimed deposition of Meneghetti. Army troops from STA Maria, RGS Parana and STA Catarina are moving on Porto Alegre. Gen Joao Costa COMDR parachute unit was with Castello Branco planning airborne attack if necessary. Navy units going to lagoon and Guaiba estuary to complete action against Porto Alegre. Goulart still there as is Assis Brasil.4 Fico gave up in Brasilia and some arrests being made.

    Chief of Cabinet to War Minister Costa e Silva is very pro US Brig Gen Siseno Sarmento.

    Castello Branco states ADM Aragao is not under arrest, contrary previous reports, but is being sought. Brig Teixeira likewise. Jurema is confirmed as under arrest.

    Further on petroleum. Osvino Alves is reported under arrest this morning. Supply situation could become serious or critical within three or four days since Petrobras supplies have been sharply reduced in last ten days. Rationing in Sao Paulo with service stations held to 30 percent of normal supplies. Belo Horizonte stocks requisitioned for military use. Confusion Petrobras and Fronape their tanker organization. Oil company representatives have been summoned to Navy Ministry for meeting at 1400 local time. [End Rio 4.]

  • Rio 5

    Reply to Sec 3 is that we have no objection to landings in Rio and Recife.

    [Page 452]

    Reply to Sec 4 not yet known or indicated. My purely personal hunch is that leading Paulista banker such as Gastao Vidigal would be good prospect. Any new FinMin obviously faces gravest problems but we cannot yet see political situation sufficiently clearly to answer second question.

    Reply to Sec 5 is that Mazzilli is man of clearly moderate orientation and skillful legislative tactician but unlikely have great executive force or vigorous policy ideas. Policies would have to come from cabinet members. He is likely to look to capable and highly respected names for cabinet.

    Reply to Sec 6 was given in Rio 2. We believe Task Force but not tankers should be recalled soonest.

    This ends Rio 5.

  • Rio 6

    Will send draft message President Johnson to Mazzilli this afternoon. Also other drafts if indicated. Will also send sitrep in ample time for 1990Z teleconference. On handling of our sitreps do you want us to send appropriate material as regular telegrams for wider Washington distribution or can you arrange that for us? This ends Rio 6.

  • Rio 7

    On last point above it would help us if you could handle wider Washington distribution of necessary material since we feel heavily loaded here. This ends Rio 7.5

  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64. Secret; Exdis.
  2. Document 198 and footnote 2 thereto.
  3. Rio Grande do Sul.
  4. Reference is to Argemiro Assis Brasil, Chief of the Casa Militar; General Nicolau Fico, Army Commander in Brasilia; Admiral Cândida Aragão, Commander of the Marines; Brigadier Francisco Teixeira, Commander of the Third Air Zone; Abelardo Jurema, Minister of Justice; and Osvino Ferreira Alves, President of Petrobras.
  5. Ball briefed the President on the situation in Brazil at 10:40 a.m. After reviewing the teleconference with Gordon, Ball explained “that we will probably not have a recognition problem because this will be the same government and this will avoid the recognition of a new government. We will treat this government as a continuation of the old one.” (Johnson Library, Papers of George W. Ball, Brazil, 3/30/64–4/21/66)