179. Briefing Memorandum From the Director of the Policy Planning Staff (Lake) to Secretary of State Vance 1

Summary of Talks

The thaw in our relations with Brazil facilitated a more open and frank dialogue than occurred in last year’s planning talks.2 While not hesitating to criticize aspects of our global policies, the Brazilians seemed generally to appreciate our basic thrusts on East-West, African and hemispheric issues. On North-South issues, they continued to display the ambiguous position of wanting increased participation in international decision-making as befits an emerging power while not wanting to be excluded from any benefits extended to LDCs. The sensitive bilateral issues of nuclear non-proliferation and military cooperation were omitted from the talks. We raised human rights in a global and Soviet context, and it was interesting to note how little the Brazilians disagreed with our position. The talks ended with a friendly meeting with Foreign Minister Silveira.


Brazil is actively seeking to expand its ties and influence outside of the hemisphere, into Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East. They are searching for commercial ties—for new markets and sources of oil supply—as well as for diversified political relations. While they generally seemed to share our perceptions, it was also clear that, in each case, they would pursue their own perceived interests. As with DeGaulle, Brazil seeks tactical friends but not allies.

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On African issues, the Brazilians recognized that they benefitted from our efforts, and expressed concern at Cuban activities. At the same time, they seemed to prefer to avoid engaging themselves in the Cuban issue, arguing that only the US could bring sufficient pressure to bear on the USSR to moderate Cuban behavior. (On Angola, the Brazilians opined that a reduction in border tensions might give less ideological elements within the MPLA greater ascendency.)

The Brazilians expressed great concern over a remark in a recent speech by Fred Bergsten classifying Brazil as an “advanced developing country,”3 fearing that should this concept become a formalized category, such countries could be excluded from future policies benefitting LDCs. They also suggested that this categorization could be an attempt to break them off from the G–77. In fact, the Brazilians argued, the G–77 has moderated its tone, implying that Brazil deserved some credit for this development. On the Common Fund, the Brazilians reported that the Latins have been leaning against the more radical African demands, and our willingness to make even a nominal contribution to the second window was seen as key to facilitating an agreement.

The Brazilians cited the Bonn Summit as a case where their interests were involved and LDC participation lacking.4 Nevertheless, they had no specific proposals for increasing their participation in global decision-making, and recognized that their LDC bone fides would be jeopardized by too close association with certain developed country institutions. The Brazilians were emphatic in stating that their increasing integration into the global economy was an historical inevitability.

Our hemispheric policies were well received. Our greater attention to the region, recognition and tolerance of diversity, and ability to see issues outside of an East-West prism were all praised. The Brazilians seemed to appreciate that diversity strengthens the West.

Sao Paulo

A day of meetings with non-governmental leaders in Sao Paulo exposed us to the exhilarating process of political liberation now underway. After Sao Paulo voted against the government party in 1974, Geisel began political reforms, to try to normalize relations between Brazilia and the country’s industrial center. Concern now exists as to whether president-elect Figueirdo—Geisel’s personal choice—has the [Page 553] ability and temperment to guide the liberalization process, although most observers doubted that the process could be capped. We were pleased to find that US foreign policy was not an issue in the November 15 congressional elections. Liberals appreciate our moral support, but no one expected or feared that we would try to intervene on anyone’s behalf.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Policy and Planning Staff—Office of the Director, Records of Anthony Lake, 1977–1981, Lot 82D298, Box 4, TL 11/16-30, 1978. Confidential. Drafted on November 16 by Feinberg, cleared by Ruser. Forwarded to Brzezinski under a November 28 covering memorandum from Pastor. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron, Box 5, Brazil, 1978)
  2. See Document 168.
  3. Bergsten addressed The Conference Board in New York on June 5. (Hobart Rowen, “U.S. Exports Still Compete, Bergsten Says,” Washington Post, June 6, 1978, p. D7)
  4. For the economic questions covered at the Bonn Economic Summit Meeting of the G-7, July 16–17, see Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXXVII, Energy Crisis, 1974–1980, Document 157, and Foreign Relations, 1977–1980, vol. III, Foreign Economic Policy, Documents 145148.