222. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Brazil 1

744. For Ambassador from Secretary. Subject: Recent Developments in Brazil. I have read your telegram 9932 reporting your conversation with Castello Branco on Brazil’s Second Institutional Act.

You have struck precisely correct note. Although we have been maintaining silence publicly on Second Institutional Act, Castello Branco and other Brazilian leaders should be made acutely aware our [Page 494]serious concern and deep disappointment over recent developments in Brazil. We had strongest hope that Brazil was moving toward effective exercise political democracy and was achieving substantial success in its economic reform and development programs. We sincerely regret backwards steps on the political side and earnestly hope that the arbitrary powers assumed in the Institutional Act will be employed with the greatest moderation and restraint.

Because of Brazil’s great size and influence in hemisphere, events in Brazil have far-reaching consequences throughout the hemisphere. Important developments in Brazil inevitably affect the United States and the free world. The emergence of a repressive authoritarian regime would represent a serious reverse in an otherwise rather encouraging series of developments throughout the hemisphere under the Alliance for Progress. Unless the danger of a sharp movement to the extreme right is averted, the basis will be laid for vigorous reaction from the left and serious political instability in Brazil. We must do whatever we can to avoid such developments. The Alliance for Progress and many of our hemispheric policies and programs can only be effective with the cooperation of a Brazilian government that is following progressive policies and avoiding the extremes of both the right and the left.3

I am sure you have already been talking to your Country Team about the situation in Brazil and what influence the United States might be able to bring to bear. I also understand that you will soon be submitting recommendations on the specific short-term policies and lines of action we should follow with respect to the Brazilian government. In the meantime, I wanted to emphasize to you my concern about developments in Brazil and to urge that you and your Country Team consider very thoroughly how we can best bring our influence to bear, including economic and military assistance, to persuade Brazilian leaders—especially Brazilian military leaders—to pull back from their apparent commitment to increased authoritarianism.4

  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–5 BRAZ. Confidential; Exdis. Drafted by Kubish and Sayre on November 6, cleared by Vaughn and U. Alexis Johnson, and approved by Rusk. In a November 6 memorandum to Rusk, Vaughn recommended approval of the telegram: “I am convinced that other crises may develop in which the Brazilian military will be tempted to become even more dominant and repressive, and I am concerned that perhaps some of our own U.S. officials, particularly in the military services, may not fully appreciate the serious damage to our interests which could result from such a development. This cable should make our basic policy view quite clear and strengthen Ambassador Gordon’s hand, and ours in ARA, in executing that policy.” (Ibid., POL 23–9 BRAZ)
  2. Document 221.
  3. The following sentence was removed from the beginning of the last paragraph: “I have discussed Brazilian developments with the President who is apprehensive over this recent turn of events in Brazil.”
  4. In his reply Gordon urged that the Department reconsider its decision against issuing a public statement: “By holding to line that Second Institutional Act is purely domestic political affair, we tend to give impression inside Brazil, in rest of LA, and in US itself that we condone or even applaud what has been done.” (Telegram 1083 from Rio de Janeiro, November 9; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–5 BRAZ) The Department declined Gordon’s request, maintaining that the press saw nothing inconsistent or paradoxical in a public stance of “no comment.” The Department was concerned, however, about press reports that the Embassy disagreed with official policy: “This is extremely unfortunate and we assume you are dealing with this matter in the manner you think best.” (Telegram 802 to Rio de Janeiro, November 12; ibid.)