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

2331. 1. Herewith highlights my first private talk with President Castello Branco in Brasilia Saturday morning,2 lasting eighty minutes. [Page 464] After exchange courtesies, I congratulated him on inaugural address and remarked that we looked on April revolution as possible turning point in affairs Latin America and world as well as Brazil, provided proper use made of opportunity. Also spoke of convergence US and Brazilian interests on major issues, interest in seeing a strong and progressive Brazil, and desire approach possible divergences on any minor issues with good will on both sides. President concurred and expressed special appreciation for LBJ telegram.3

2. President then noted that American press reaction to his speech had been favorable, but concern clearly existed in US as to possible revolutionary excesses. He understood the withdrawal of political rights, Celso Furtado4 had been especially badly received. I replied that there was indeed such concern, not because of disagreement with basic purposes of revolution, but because repressive measures could be arbitrary or excessive, state police in Sao Paulo seemed presently very extreme, and some judicial or other review procedure would have important favorable effect on free world opinion. Also said Furtado case especially sensitive in view his international renown, CIAP membership, and possible invitation by an American University as visiting professor. President said he understood Furtado had appointed many Communists to SUDENE, which I acknowledged, but I then explained in some detail reasons our own appraisal Furtado. President listened attentively to this exposition. (See separate wire on discussion Furtado case with Justice Minister Milton Campos.)5

3. We then turned to discussion economic and social problems. President inquired at some length about Alliance for Progress, Marshall Plan, and my earlier interest in Brazilian economic development. While expressing great confidence in medium and long-term Brazilian prospects, given effective policies and administration, I emphasized technically difficult problem of coping with inflation which had in January–February reached annual rate one hundred and fifty percent, an importance of well planned investment program to cushion shock of this inflation and spread austerity burdens as equitably as possible. Indicated our readiness to support both short and long-run efforts within general AFP framework and available resources. President asked me to review history of Brazilian planning and AFP coordinating [Page 465] efforts in recent years, and concluded this discussion by saying he placed highest importance on effective public investment planning and coordinating mechanism, this under active study, and he hoped arrive at decision by next Wednesday, April 22.

4. Following suggestion by Foreign Minister, I then explained AMFORP history and status to president, pointing to use Colombian precedent as possible means for early solution. Explained urgency solution from viewpoint avoiding further deterioration electric service and starting financing important new projects to avoid medium-term power shortage in center south. President undertook review promptly with Finance and Mines Ministers, as well as Foreign Minister.

5. President asked me about prospects additional PL 480 supplies and debt rescheduling, to which I replied with summary exposition present status.

6. Talk also touched on general international developments such as Sino-Soviet dispute and French policies under De Gaulle. President felt Russia relatively quiescent but ChiComs rashly and dangerously expansionist. He showed particular interest in France, remarking that De Gaulle had always seemed to him obsessed with concept of national greatness symbolized simply by military power, a concept Castello Branco regarded as obsolete and irrelevant to present world realities.

7. Contrast between tone this talk and that recent Goulart audiences was as day and night. Castello Branco was alert, attentive, intelligent, and responsive. He made no incautious predictions on future line of action, and I did not seek any. He obviously still feeling his way on many matters of organization, administration, and policy, but appeared to be doing it thoughtfully and conscientiously. I left the interview with the feeling that this was a most auspicious beginning.

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15–1 BRAZ. Confidential; Priority.
  2. April 18.
  3. Reference is to Johnson’s message congratulating Castello Branco after his election on April 11 to succeed Goulart as President of Brazil. (Telegram 1401 to Rio de Janeiro, April 14; Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Heads of State Correspondence, Brazil, Branco Correspondence, Vol. I)
  4. Former head of the Superintendency for the Development of the Northeast (SUDENE).
  5. Telegram 2330 from Rio de Janeiro, April 20. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 29 BRAZ)