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

641. Subject: Goodpaster Mission to Brazil: Assessment.

1. Confidential–Entire text.

2. My one-day visit to Brasilia January 28 was more positive in its tone and results than I had expected.2 President Figueiredo stated that Brazil would stand with the United States, as it had in past emergencies, [Page 563] when the world situation required. Recalling Brazil’s contribution in World War II, he said there should be no doubt that Brazil was a friend, by tradition one of our firmest allies. He also made clear, however, his grave concerns over Brazil’s economic situation, and especially its very great dependence on Middle East oil. He stressed that he was always open to consultations, which he hoped could encompass the economic situation.

3. Soybean exports. During my talks, I focussed on Brazil’s soybean export policy in the context of our suspension of agricultural exports and the range of other measures in response to Afghanistan. I stressed the political and economic importance that Brazil not undermine the US embargo. Figueiredo stated categorically that Brazil had no intention to take advantage of our action by sharply expanding exports to the Soviet Union; Brazil preferred to keep its traditional export markets. US policy on soybeans, however, was critical. Brazil would like to request that the US take steps to ensure that world soybean prices be maintained and that Brazil’s export markets not be damaged by US soybean supplies withheld from the Soviet Union. We proposed that specific consultations be held among agricultural experts to address this problem.

4. Afghanistan. President Figueiredo clearly shared our perception of the dangers flowing from the Soviet invasion; his Foreign Minister’s reaction, with whom I discussed the implications of the Soviet move at great length, was more qualified.3 Figueiredo voiced concern over Western oil supplies, should the Soviets be tempted to move beyond the borders of Afghanistan, and the need for a show of Western solidarity and strength. He appreciated Churchill’s phrase that the Soviets seek the fruits of war without the costs of war.

5. To both the President and Foreign Minister Guerreiro I emphasized that our policy toward the Soviets had changed in fundamental ways as the result of recent events, that the Soviets had made a serious miscalculation, and that we intended to stay the course. Guerreiro, while not disagreeing with our analysis of the strategic implications, tended to place greater stress on the antecedents of the Soviet invasion (that is, preceding Soviet involvement in the country), and (perhaps for tactical reasons) pursued the question of a possible Soviet withdrawal after the objective of installing a new government had been accomplished. His thesis was that the range of action the US had taken was necessary and important to deter further Soviet moves, that Islam and the Islamic revolution were a bulwark against Soviet penetration, [Page 564] and that a principal contribution Brazil could make (given its relative weakness and great vulnerability) was to maintain and strengthen its relations with the Arab regimes. But Guerreiro and his associates were clearly impressed with the seriousness of the US purpose, our analysis of the dangers, and the range of measures the administration has taken.

6. Brazil’s vulnerability. This clearly has become a central concern of the Brazilian leadership, as of the public. Figueiredo in some detail gave the grim statistics of Brazil’s trade balance and dependence on foreign oil. In an exchange of unusual candor, Guerreiro raised the possibility of Soviet oil in exchange for soybeans, and, in private conversation, the Brazilian officials acknowledged their great dependence on Iraq and Iran. We pointed out the Soviet Union’s own precarious petroleum situation, and there was agreement that the Soviets were an intermittent, unreliable supplier. From my talks, I believe there may be a need for candid economic consultations at a high level which address these issues and demonstrate to the Figueiredo administration our comprehension and concern for their dilemma. Perhaps Planning Minister Delfim Netto’s forthcoming visit to the United States would be an opportunity for such consultations.4

7. Security relations. I also broached in a general way the security of the South Atlantic and the desirability of closer cooperation. President Figueiredo and Foreign Minister Guerreiro did not respond directly. Figueiredo, however, perhaps significantly, referred to Brazil’s military weakness. Foreign Minister Guerreiro affirmed that Brazil was interested in consultations and the resumption of military support—although, of course, without returning to the institutional arrangements and agreements of former times. I believe the postponed visit of Admiral Hansen (Staff Director of the JCS) for security talks should be rescheduled at a mutually convenient date.5 (I understand the resumption of FMS is in principle agreed within the USG.)

8. Consultations on Global issues. In addition to Admiral Hansen’s visit, we discussed a rescheduling of the policy planning talks. There was agreement that the talks were valuable and should be held at an early date.6

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800050-0744. Confidential; Niact Immediate; Exdis.
  2. Goodpaster was sent to Argentina and Brazil for talks regarding “the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the counter measures taken by the Western nations and the grains and soybean curtailment and how this issue relates to Brazil.” (Telegram 21798 to Rio de Janeiro, January 26; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800044-1079) Goodpaster’s conversation with Figueiredo is summarized in telegram 642 from Brasilia, January 29. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800050-0777)
  3. Goodpaster’s conversation with Guerreiro is summarized in telegram 707 from Brasilia, January 30. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800053-0584)
  4. In telegram 293912 to Brasilia, November 3, the Department noted that Delfim was scheduled to meet with Miller on November 3. (Telegram 293912 to Brasilia, November 3; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800526-0880)
  5. Hanson was scheduled to visit Brazil April 14–17. (Telegram 2335 from Brasilia, March 28; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D800157-0593) A record of his meetings there was not found.
  6. Planning talks were held on March 24–25. See Document 186.