124. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security (Kissinger) to President Nixon1 2

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  • Effectiveness of Ambassador Elbrick

You will recall that you asked for a State Department evaluation of a news report which implied that Ambassador Elbrick has lost his bargaining power in dealing with the Brazilians because of his indebtedness to the Brazilian Government for securing his release. The news report also implied that the Brazilian junta had lost so much prestige in securing Elbrick’s release that it might not be able to last.

In the memorandum at Tab A the State Department indicates that Ambassador Elbrick has discussed his position with Under Secretary Richardson and other Department officials. Although they recognize that there is an element of “indebtedness” to the Brazilian Government, and that some elements of the Brazilian military might consider Elbrick as the symbol of an unpleasant incident, on balance they believe that public sympathy toward the Ambassador throughout the Brazilian community may actually have enhanced rather than impaired his effectiveness in dealing with the Brazilian Government. Elbrick plans therefore to return to Brazil, and will reassess his position after he has spent some time back in the country.

The State Department comments that Ambassador Elbrick’s kidnapping accelerated a process of finding a successor to President Costa de Silva which was already underway. Costa de Silva’s stroke was the real origin of this process, and the military junta was designed only as a temporary measure pending the President’s recovery; however, the chances now appear slim that Costa de Silva will ever be able to reassume the Presidency, and a process of consultations within the military is underway to select a successor and to determine a method for the succession.

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 771, Country Files, Latin America, Brazil, through August 1970. Confidential. Sent for information. The memorandum bears the following handwritten note: “Back from Pres 10–1”. Attached but not published at Tab A is a September 20 memorandum from Eliot to Kissinger.
  2. Kissinger summarized the impact of Ambassador Elbick’s abduction on Brazilian politics and United States-Brazilian relations.