167. Telegram From the Embassy in Brazil to the Department of State, Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Other Recipients1

7670. Subj: GOB Denunciation/Rescission of Military Agreements. Ref: A) Brasilia 76682 B) Brasilia 7669.3

1. Foreign Minister Silveira called me to his office at 5:00 p.m. local to hand me a note rescinding or denouncing four bilateral agreements in the military area and a press release to be issued at 6:00 p.m. (see Brasilia 7668 and 7669 for texts.)

2. Silveira stated that he did not think that the GOB decision would come as a surprise to me because he knew I was aware of the process that had been going on in the GOB. He said that he wished to emphasize to me, as Itamaraty would to the press, the last paragraph of the note.4

3. I replied that I was not surprised and that of course we accepted with equanimity the GOB decision that the agreements were no longer in its interests. To his statement that the denunciation/rescission of the three purely military agreements was a natural consequence of the March 11 denunciation of the 1952 [agreement],5 I commented that, according to my understanding, this was not necessarily the case but in any case the point was academic. I went on to say that I was afraid that, despite the final paragraph, the Brazilian press would tend to interpret the GOB action in a negative way. I added that I believed that the reference to non-interference, reminiscent of the emotionalism of March, would reinforce the tendency, and in any event much would depend on the nature of statements by well-known military figures. I [Page 510] also commented that I regretted that the time between the delivery of the note and the issuance of the press release was so short but that this seemed to be the established pattern. Silveira explained that he had not wanted leaks and speculation. (It should be noted that Silveira’s request to see me was made at about 10:30 this morning, which suggests that the intent of the scenario was to reduce our reaction to a minimum.)

4. In response to press inquiries we are making these points: (a) we accept the GOB’s decision with equanimity; (b) it appears that the GOB has decided that the agreements were no longer in its interest, which is, of course, its prerogative; (c) the GOB decision did not come as a surprise; (d) in these circumstances, the Embassy for its part does not consider this action a deterioration in relations; (e) we cannot speak for the Department with respect to effects on the scheduled visit of Secretary Vance. If asked about the effects on our human rights policy, we are saying that the USG policy continues unchanged. If questions tie the non-interference reference in the note to the human rights report, we are saying that, of course, we do not agree with the non-interference characterization because we do not consider that the establishment by Congress of conditions on the provision to other countries of US resources constitutes interference in internal affairs and because concerns about human rights transcend national boundaries. (Here we refer them to the Embassy’s statement of March 5.)6

5. Comment: There are probably several reasons for the timing of the action, among them the retirement this Wednesday7 of General Potyguara, the notoriously anti-American current chief of the Armed Forces general staff, who has been pushing the recommendations to denounce/rescind the agreements; internal political considerations (the nature and extent of which can only be assessed when we see the kind of public play the GOB gives the matter); and the apparent GOB belief (very evident to me during Panama Canal week in the Brazilian Embassy in Washington) that US right-wing opinion is a resource to be invoked by the GOB against the policies of the Carter administration.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770340-0924. Confidential; Niact Immediate. Sent Niact Immediate to USCINCSOUTH, USCINCLANT, DMA, CSA, CSAF, CNO, and the Consulates General in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
  2. September 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770340-0884)
  3. September 20. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770340-0905)
  4. See footnote 2, above. The last paragraph of the note noted “the desire of the Brazilian government to maintain the relationship between the two countries on the traditional bases of mutual respect and non-interference in the internal affairs of the other state,” and stated that “the Brazilian government reaffirms its disposition to cooperate with the North American government.” “Itamaraty” is a reference to the Brazilian Foreign Ministry, housed in Itamaraty Palace.
  5. A reference to the Brazilian refusal of U.S. security assistance and renunciation of the 1952 Military Assistance Agreement. (Telegram 1908 from Brasilia, March 1; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770084-0829) See Document 163.
  6. The Embassy’s statement is in telegram 1739 from Brasilia, March 5. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770076-1319)
  7. September 21.