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 You are in: Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs > Bureau of Public Affairs: Office of the Historian > Foreign Relations of the United States > Johnson Administration > Volume XXXI
Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Volume XXXI, South and Central America; Mexico
Released by the Office of the Historian
Documents 181-213


181. Memorandum From the Director of the Office of Brazilian Affairs (Burton) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann)/1/

Washington, January 8, 1964.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/BR Files: Lot 66 D 418, DEF-Defense Affairs, 1964. Confidential. Drafted by Burton.

The Position of the Military in Brazil

Regarding your query on the above at the noon inter-agency meeting (the meeting on the contingency paper)/2/ today, may I offer the following comment.

/2/ The parenthetical comment was handwritten by Burton. An inter-agency group met on January 8 to consider a draft contingency plan for Brazil; no substantive record of the meeting has been found. The draft, prepared in ARA/BR, addressed four contingencies: Extreme Leftist Revolt; Democratic Revolt Against Excesses of Regime; Removal of Goulart by Constructive Forces; and Gradual Extreme Leftist Takeover. It recommended that the United States avoid association with "rightist coup plottings," although covert contact with such groups was necessary for intelligence collection and "the exercise of a moderating influence, where appropriate." In the event of an "interim military takeover," the United States should assume a "constructive friendly attitude" while pressing for a "quick return to constitutional democratic processes." ("A Contingency Plan for Brazil," December 11, 1963; ibid., Central Files 1961-63, POL 23-9 BRAZ)

I believe that it is reasonably clear that a substantial proportion well in excess of a majority among the military officers in Brazil are heavily oriented toward the maintenance of orderly democratic processes. However, I do not think that there has been up to now any really substantial capability or will to mount a coup to overthrow Goulart. The military already had one unhappy and unsuccessful experience in attempting to disrupt orderly democratic processes when they unsuccessfully tried to block Goulart’s succession to the presidency in 1961 and had to settle for a parliamentary arrangement which was subsequently discredited and abandoned. In this sense, I think that there has been a lot of confused thinking on the subject of a deteriorating military capability to overthrow Goulart. I submit that this capability has been deteriorated and ineffective since the ill-fated fiasco of 1961, even before Goulart understandably started making appointments and promotions to protect himself against similar future actions.

On the other hand, the military can be a restraining force against extremists and undemocratic excesses. I think it is generally recognized that the Army Attaché in Brazil, Colonel Walters, feels most strongly that Goulart is bringing about a political erosion in the military. Yet, Colonel Walters just last August acknowledged to me that if Goulart attempted to move toward dictatorship in violation of the constitution, there would, at the very least, be shooting. While Goulart has shown a great penchant for generating acute political tension and crisis at periodic intervals, past history indicates a considerable tendency on his part to retreat and compromise-to avoid ultimate explosion. For this reason the military should be viewed as a potential politically strong restraining force against Goulartist undemocratic excesses. Our chief worry should be that the military might be confused and immobilized by continuing slick and subtle political maneuverings by Goulart.

I might add that there is in the military a very considerable reservoir of good will toward the United States and sympathy toward U.S. objectives and policy; evidence of this erupted in many quarters at the time of the Cuban missile crisis. For this reason and because of the considerations set forth above we have taken the position that the cultivation of the Brazilian military has high political importance and we have therefore, for example, pushed forward a program of defense lending for C-130’s. /3/

/3/ Negotiations on the sale of C-130 aircraft to Brazil were completed in June, when the Brazilian Air Minister signed a memorandum of understanding. (Telegram 2799 from Rio de Janeiro, June 10; ibid., DEF 12-5 BRAZ-US)

I believe that the above is a reasonably accurate reflection of the thinking of Ambassador Gordon, except that he might possibly speak with more vigor in view of past difficulties and delays we had to surmount before we got implementation of his C-130 recommendations.

I understand that you have recently been exposed to various opinions on the Brazilian military in connection with a recent general discussion of military assistance. This memorandum is intended to be responsive to such comment as well as to the question you raised on the contingency paper.

Please let me know if there is any additional information you would like on the subject of the military in Brazil.


182. Notes of Meeting Between the Ambassador to Brazil (Gordon) and the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann)/1/

Washington, January 22, 1964.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/LA Files, 1964: Lot 66 D 65, Brazil 1964. Confidential. Drafted by Mann. These notes were typed in ARA from an attached set of Mann’s handwritten notes. Gordon was in the United States for consultation January 20-February 10. At an interagency debriefing on January 23 Gordon argued that the United States need intervene only if the Brazilian armed forces were divided: "If this split were not to occur, a coup from either the right or left with armed forces support would be over before the U.S. could exercise any significant influence." (Memorandum for the record from Robert J. Hill, Jr., January 24; Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330 68 A 306, Brazil 334-703, 1964)

Goulart-Childish and erratic. Apparently tries to keep an inch or two windward. Does not believe he is a commie. Very tolerant of commies because they are useful to him. More a follower of Vargas and Peron. Personable demagogue.

Possibility of a Goulart coup followed by an eventual commie takeover.

Brizola is Goulart’s brother-in-law, has a radio station, former Gov. of Rio Grande do Sul. Now a Congressman from Rio where he got a big vote. Demagogue more than an intellectual type. Has said he would like to be the Fidel Castro of Brazil. Schilling is his chief advisor who is a member of Communist Party.

Miguel Arrais, Gov. of Pernambuco. Wife is commie and he could be. Shrewd-eligible for Presidency.

Carlos Lacerda (48)-Gov. of Guanabara. No. one anti-commie. One of ablest in country. Brilliant. Was newspaper publisher. Good administrator. Would make good President-under attack for being pro-American.

Adhemar de Barros (63)-Still Gov. of Sao Paulo, a key power. Steals but is on our side. Says he will run but could not be elected. Ideal ticket would be Lacerda-de Barros.

Meneghetti, Gov. of Rio Grande do Sul. (Around 65) Older but good. Some iron but not vigorous.

Nei Braga-Gov. of Parana, south of Sao Paulo and most rapidly growing state in Brazil. Good population with lots of drive. Around 40 years and head of Christian Democratic Party. Anti-Communist and not always outspokenly so. Catholic new dealer. Possible V.P. choice.

In Middle

Magalhaes Pinto (high 50’s). Gov. of Minas Gerais. Has presidential ambitions. Plays both sides. Technically in UDN but in minority group which would bolt if Lacerda nominated. Difficult to say how able. But is smarter than Goulart.

Carvalho Pinto. Former Gov. of Sao Paulo and Finance Minister. Able, good administrator but provincial who does not understand finance. Honest and puritanical. Sometimes plays to left. Dark horse presidential possibility.

Trend against Kubitschek, and in favor of Lacerda. But election nearly two years away.

Power Centers


Church (weak and divided)

Industrial and Financial Community (Sao Paulo, Rio and Belo Horizonte in that order)

Labor-Official part built by Vargas run by commies or Goulart partisans.

Important to keep alive the Alliance for Progress idea in Brazil.

1. Burton has piece of paper of loans. About 27 in project loans.
2. Maybe handle PL 480
3. IDB
4. World Bank
5. FRINGE-Peace Corps, etc.


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

Rio de Janeiro, February 21, 1964, 6 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, FN 14 BRAZ. Confidential; Limdis.

1761. 1. Goulart received me Thursday/2/ afternoon for one hour responding my request early in week for renewal contact after my recent Washington trip. He was in good mood, appearing pleased with generally favorable reaction his Wednesday night speech.

/2/ February 20.

2. I handed him original and translation Mrs. Kennedy letter of thanks,/3/ which he said would publish. He then questioned me at some length about U.S. political scene, expressing great interest in strength of President Johnson’s position and expressing hope he might at some time meet President Johnson informally. Said he was still thinking of European trip in April or May and wondered whether he might pass through Texas on way back. This was in tone vague conversation rather than a pointed inquiry, and he emphasized that no definite travel plans yet made, since they would require Congressional leave.

/3/ Not found.

3. He then asked about prospects for early OECD response./4/ I replied hoped not later than Monday/5/ and possibly sooner. I expressed concern that statement his Wednesday speech had over anticipated successful results when negotiation not yet started, to which he replied had to put best foot forward and had had personal message from de Gaulle indicating latter’s disposition cooperate. I also remarked that he had singled out reference to prospective fifty million dollar German aid projects, which were much less than we had done in recent years, to which he replied that structure of speech intended show recent actions to strengthen relations with various countries, beginning with December exchange of letters with President Johnson./6/

/4/ Reference is to the negotiations to reschedule Brazil’s foreign debt coordinated by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris. Documentation on the negotiations is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, FN 14 BRAZ.

/5/ February 24.

/6/ For text of the letters, see Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-64, Book I, pp. 81-83.

4. Apropos of de Gaulle, I mentioned with some asperity reported statements visiting French Gaullist deputies on General’s ideas building up economic relations with LA to help "free LA from excessive dependence on U.S." I left with Goulart memorandum/7/ showing Brazilian trade with U.S. ten times that with France, relative amounts of Brazilian coffee bought by two countries, absence of tariffs and taxes on our part. Also pointed out that Brazil is receiving half its wheat from U.S. practically as gift. This led to general discussion de Gaulle’s motivations and notions world leadership, during which I emphasized costliness world leadership under present conditions, weakness French resource base, and tendency to exploit nuisance value with being able back up by positive acts. I said that if de Gaulle would lead Common Market to abandon taxes and discriminations against LA trade, this would really mean something, but vague talk of blocs based on Latin affinities should be viewed skeptically. This seemed to leave considerable impression on Goulart.

/7/ Not found.

5. He asked me about Guantanamo and Panama problems, on which I gave him straight forward factual background.

6. Cuba-Venezuela dispute reported separately./8/

/8/ Goulart questioned how "a small boatload of arms" could be considered an "invasion" and recommended that the OAS consider "some form of mild sanction proportional to the crime." (Telegram 1759 from Rio de Janeiro, February 21; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 12 CUBA)

7. AMFORP problem reported separately./9/

/9/ Reference is to ongoing negotiations to expropriate holdings of the American and Foreign Power Company (AMFORP) in Brazil. In his conversation with Gordon, Goulart raised specific problems associated with the AMFORP subsidiary in Vitória, suggesting that responsibility for its management be transferred to the state. (Telegram 1760 from Rio de Janeiro, February 21; ibid., FSE 12 BRAZ)

8. He said looking forward to McCloy visit and thought Hanna case could have constructive solution./10/

/10/ On February 29 John J. McCloy, then a partner at the New York law firm of Milbank, Tweed, Hadley, and McCloy, met Goulart in Rio de Janeiro to discuss the status of the M.A. Hanna Mining Company. For a secondary account of the meeting, see Kai Bird, The Chairman: John J. McCloy, the Making of the American Establishment, pp. 550-553.

9. I then remarked on growing Washington concern at increasingly open and favored Communist influence in Brazil, saying this now much greater even than when Attorney General saw him December 1962. He replied with defense legalization PCB, saying he genuinely believed this would reduce their infiltration in and influence in other parties and would demonstrate their small real strength in contrast highly organized noise they were able to make. I asked how he could justify idea legalizing. Replied Prestes’/11/ trip excellent way reducing receptivity PCB in Brazil, comparable to Prestes’ Senate statement in 1946 that he would side with Russia if Russia and Brazil in opposite sides of a war. Moreover, he said, Communists and allies are now divided into three groups. There is the Brizola group, largest in popular support but very radical in policies, wanting violent overthrow regime now. There was the Chinese-Cuban group, also violent but relatively small. Then there was the orthodox Moscow group, by far the best disciplined, which was taking a very moderate line corresponding within Brazil to Khrushchev’s moderate international line in relation to U.S.

/11/ Luís Carlos Prestes, leader of the Moscow-oriented Partido Comunista Brasileiro (PCB). A PCB delegation met Soviet officials at the Kremlin on February 9. (New York Times, February 10, 1964)

10. I said that Washington preoccupation went beyond question legalization PCB, and was especially great at Communist strength in Petrobras, communications, key labor unions, Ministry of Education, etc. Long-term strategy was to get power, and if short-term tactics change from moderation to violence, was there not a most serious danger of paralyzing country unless concessions were made to Communist taste. He replied you may stop worrying about that. There was a test when Petrobras unions wanted to launch general strike when two Petrobras directors were discharged, but Goulart had opposed them and they had not struck. (If price of this was Osvino’s appointment as President Petrobras, I remain dubious as to who won.) He went on to say, however, that he thought it was good for reactionary elite of country to believe that left had such power, since this might prove only way of getting them to accept basic reforms. He then launched into lengthy disquisition on reforms, saying they were indispensable and that blindness of Brazilian elite to their necessity was incredible. Said eight thousand peasants wanting land had appeared in Governador Valadares in Minas, and even if half of these Communists and other outsiders, other half remained a serious problem for which practical solution must be found and efforts to suppress through arming land owners or police or army action would not do. Moreover, he said, no reforms can be considered basic unless they amend constitution. A basic reform must be reflected in revision of nation’s basic constitutional document. He intended to keep on with his fight, and the reactionaries would see that he would win. He ended the disquisition by saying "they will give-they will give".

11. As conversation was ending, he said he noted that I was probably going to Washington in March for Ambassadors meeting on Alliance for Progress widely reported in morning press. I said this not yet definite, but purpose would be consideration how make AFP more effective. I said Washington perplexed at his apparent prejudice against AFP. He replied had no prejudice, but felt reformulation was essential. Said best way of doing this would be meeting of all Western Hemisphere Presidents, in which new ideas would not come simply from U.S. but as common ideas to which all LA countries would be committed because they had participated in formulation.

12. Comment: General tone conversation, including apparent desire reasonable settlement Vitoria problem, more forthcoming attitude on AMFORP in general, welcome for McCloy’s prospective visit beginning March, and enthusiastic appreciation our role on debt rescheduling problem, appeared reflect real change his attitude toward U.S. over last few months, giving me impression that idea radical break in favor line-up with Russia which he had entertained last August was now abandoned. This is quite likely reflection Russian indications that they are in no position to assume heavy commitments to Brazil. On domestic front, on other hand, I read both in and between lines disposition to take extreme risks, through stimulation sporadic violence in countryside, mass meetings, strikes, etc. to force constitutional amendments for basic reforms. I increasingly suspect that major reform he is seeking is vote for illiterates in hope this will spell death knell for Lacerda candidacy. This bodes very ill for domestic tranquillity here in coming months./12/

/12/ On February 19 Gordon discussed the situation in Brazil with Lacerda, who reportedly felt "slighted because of very long interval since our last talk." Gordon told Lacerda that some distance was necessary to avoid "so obvious a public relationship as to make him appear a favorite son of U.S." Lacerda believed that the chances of a coup d’état, either for or against Goulart, were "negligible." He feared, however, that Goulart would "register millions of illiterates under guise of adult illiteracy," thereby throwing the presidential election in October 1965. (Telegram 1773 from Rio de Janeiro, February 24; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15 BRAZ)



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

Rio de Janeiro, March 18, 1964, 7 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 BRAZ. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Repeated to Brasilia and Sao Paulo. Gordon was in Washington March 13-22 for consultation and the conference of U.S. Ambassadors and AID Mission Directors to Latin America.

2002. For Ambassador Gordon. Examination of latest phase of crisis (ushered in by March 13 rally and President’s message to Congress) leads us to conclusion that there are dangerous elements present which have not previously existed-even at previous high-water mark of state of siege episode./2/

/2/ On October 4, 1963, Goulart asked Congress for a 30-day state of siege to restore order in the midst of general political unrest, including rumors of an impending coup d’état. Goulart withdrew the request 3 days later in the face of widespread opposition. On March 13, 1964, Goulart addressed a mass rally in Rio de Janeiro organized by the General Command of Workers (CGT). Earlier in the day the President had issued a decree to seize "underutilized" land within certain federal jurisdictions. At the rally Goulart signed a decree to expropriate all privately owned oil refineries. The next day, after signing a measure on rent control, Goulart called on Congress to amend the constitution as a means to promote other "basic reforms," including the legalization of the Communist Party. In response to the President’s campaign, the opposition organized its own

mass rallies, including the "March of the Family with God for Liberty" in Sao Paulo on March 19.

In broad terms, essentially new elements of current situation which increase criticalness are as follows:

1. There is general realization that Goulart has finally "defined himself". This commitment (which seems much firmer and more explicit than anything Goulart has come up with in past) has thus far received sustained support of left as whole-including Brizola, PCB, various other groups and subgroups. Only small Amazonas group (CPB) has attacked Goulart’s new position. While same sort of coalescing of elements of left took place at time of state of siege, obvious and disturbing difference is that they then opposed President whereas they now support him.

2. This phase of crisis, unlike predecessors, thus far appears to be sustained push. Momentum of new Goulart offensive shows none of usual signs of let-up (e.g. rumors of dissention among left, back-offs by President, etc.).

3. While success or failure of October fiasco seems to have been-intentionally or not-geared to attempt on Lacerda, no such problematic wild card exists in current drive which seems carefully planned and appears to contain provisions for substantial flexibility in likely event that favorable Congressional action on President’s proposals not forthcoming.

4. Following factors bear on what Goulart might do in this case: (1) Goulart in various contacts has given impression that he does not necessarily expect Congress to accede to demands set forth in presidential message; (2) Goulart now appears to be sure enough of his power position to be willing to consider by-passing Congress (without necessarily closing that body); President’s confidence seems to be based at least partially on CGT threat of general strike if impeachment action started, CGT virtual ultimatum to Congress to act on proposals of presidential message by April 20, rumored possible declaration of military ministers in support of Goulart’s proposals, etc.; (3) among welter of rumors, two stand out which have unusual persistence and ring of authenticity: First, that if Congress does not act on request, Goulart will "decree" plebiscite on basic reforms, and second, that Goulart will continue to flood market with series of decrees (e.g. paper import monopoly, expropriation of petroleum distribution industry, etc.). Aside from probability or otherwise Goulart will actually take these steps, psychological effect on public of rumored impending action is very definitely such as to lead to continued high pitch of crisis.

5. Opposition-so far at least-has definitely not effectively coalesced position. There seems to be some individual and/or small group reflex reaction (talk about impeachment, Congressional withdrawal to Sao Paulo, etc.) but efforts to coordinate unified position in face of threat have not materialized. (Lacerda’s appeal to Adhemar and Juscelino to form common front has resulted in somewhat ridiculous poses of "I’ve always been a democrat; what’s new?" instead of any real cooperation.)

In view of above factors, we somewhat apprehensive that (1) if rapid deterioration of situation continues and (2) if opposition does not somehow rally, substantial amount of ground may be lost irrevocably. This leads us to wonder what actions within framework short term policy paper/3/ U.S. could take at this time to keep opposition from becoming overly demoralized in face of Goulart drive.

/3/ For text of the "Proposed Short Term Policy Paper-Brazil," September 30, 1963, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. XII, Document 240.

One suggestion we have for your consideration at present is as follows:

1. Discrete press leaks originating in Washington which clearly demonstrate concern of USG over recent turn of events in Brazil.

2. In view of fact that you are staying over after general departure of other LA Ambassadors from Washington, might it not be useful to have this played up as "extra and special consultation necessary in light of Brazilian situation."

Incidentally, our contacts with U.S. business community in last few days have shown that most, if not all, view situation with alarm.

Brazilian business reaction appears similar, dollar on free market having gone from 1460 to 1640 in last two days, while stock market has dropped sharply (Embtel 2001)./4/

/4/Telegram 2001 from Rio de Janeiro, March 18. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 2 BRAZ)

CAS concurs.



185. Memorandum From Gordon Chase of the National Security Council Staff to the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy)/1/

Washington, March 19, 1964.

/1/Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Latin America, Vol. I, 11/63-6/64. Secret.

Chiefs of Mission Conference-Brazil and Chile

I attended a few sessions of the Chiefs of Mission Conference. One of the more interesting included discussions by Ambassadors Gordon and Cole about the situations in Brazil and Chile.


1. Ambassador Gordon said that the economic situation in Brazil is terrible. Inflation was 80% last year and 50% the year before; prospects for this year are even worse. In addition, there is stagnation-a decline in net per capita income for the first time since the 1930’s. This stagnation results from a downward trend in the rate of foreign investment (partly attributable to an unfortunate law on profit remittances), and from a downward trend in the rate of domestic investment (largely attributable to inflation and a lack of confidence in the future). About the only bright spot is the foreign exchange position, which is improved because of good coffee prices.

2. The only thing worse than the economic situation is the political situation. Goulart is an incompetent, juvenile delinquent, who represents a minority of Brazilians. In the short run, he seems intent merely on survival. In the long run, he would probably like a Peronista-type revolution, with a lot of corruption at the top and support from the working classes.

A Communist takeover is conceivable. Brizola and Goulart are rivals who often work with each other; it is hard to tell how much. But there are mitigating factors. Though a rabble-rouser, Brizola is not very smart and not a good leader. In general, the leadership of the extreme left seems divided.

The majority of voters are upset. They would like to throw out Goulart. Also, the military, which traditionally stays out of government, and which traditionally is anti-Communist, is having its patience sorely tried. But the leadership of the opposition is divided and it has neither the power nor the capacity to eject Goulart; furthermore, it would be difficult to give the opposition this power and capacity. Generally speaking, the policy of the opposition is to try to keep the ship of state afloat in this very fluid situation until next year’s elections. In this regard, the two likely successors look pretty good. Kubitschek is spotty but, on the whole is O.K. Lacerda would be excellent.

3. There are bright spots in the federal structure which, in Brazil, is meaningful because the states have real power. Generally speaking, the leadership in the states is first-class. Of the 22 governors, only one is really bad, three are poor, ten are good, and eight are excellent.

4. U.S. policy has the following elements in it:

(a) Like the Brazilian opposition, we hope the ship of state can stay afloat until the elections.

(b) We try to take advantage of the loose, sprawling, multiple nature of Brazil to encourage the constructive forces which reflect the majority of the people. Our PL 480 program, project aid, and the Alliance for Progress help to demonstrate that, in the job of bringing about change, there is a viable alternative to violent revolution.

The AID director from Brazil/2/ made the point that many people in Washington feel that we should stand off from Brazil until the Brazilians behave. This would be tragic because it does not take into account the fact that Brazil is a multiple society and that there are many segments who are with us and whom we should not ignore.

/2/ Jack B. Kubisch.

(c) Our relations with the Brazilian military are good. This is very important.

(d) We have a friendly audience for USIS activities; in this regard the Embassy has a "truth squad" which attempts to answer false charges against the U.S.

Efforts with students in Brazil have been made, but there is still a long way to go. This is a crucial field in Latin America and, by and large, we have left it to our enemies. We need more student exchanges, more books, more pamphlets, etc. We must make the case for the democratic alternative. An IMF stabilization program and foreign investment are not good enough; they do not capture the imagination.

(e) In view of the civil war possibilities, the Embassy has done contingency planning./3/

/3/ In telegram 1805 from Rio de Janeiro, February 27, Gordon reported completing a review of "possible lines of covert action related to situation described in Burton draft contingency paper" (see footnote 2, Document 181) and suggested that the Special Group meet on March 19 to consider his recommendations. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, DEF 1-1 BRAZ) The Special Group, however, did not meet while Gordon was in Washington. (Department of State, INR/IL Historical Files, Special Group Files, Meetings) In a March 14 letter to Mann, Frank K. Sloan reported that Gordon had expressed reservations about a military contingency plan prepared in DOD and "will discuss the subject while in Washington next week." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 1-1 BRAZ) No record of the meeting has been found. A copy of the DOD paper, "Précis of Contingency Plan for Brazil," is in the Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330 64 A 7425, Brazil 381, 1964.

[Omitted here is discussion on Chile, see Document 249.]



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

Rio de Janeiro, March 26, 1964, 8 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 BRAZ. Secret; Priority; Exdis. Passed to White House. The telegram is based in part on information reported independently by the U.S. Army Attaché, Vernon A. Walters. According to Walters the conspirators had agreed on seven grounds that could trigger a revolt. When they appealed for U.S. assistance, however, Walters explained that he had "no authority to discuss such matters." Walters noted that he had "passed information on to Ambassador who is taking matter up at highest levels." (Telegram DISC D-20 from Rio de Janeiro to the Department of the Army, March 26; ibid., POL 23-9 BRAZ)

2084. Please pass White House.

1) It has been reported by press that second Army Commander Kruel recently told Goulart that he could not assure security of President if latter attended planned May 1 rally in Sao Paulo. On this basis, it is widely believed that Kruel’s ouster as second army commander may be imminent.

Comment: If Goulart were to try to remove Kruel from second army command it is not certain that he would go quietly. Efforts have recently been made both by Adhemar and democratic military leaders to secure Kruel’s adherence to opposition side.

2) On March 20 Army Chief of Staff Humberto Castello Branco sent letter to generals and other officers of army headquarters and subordinate units (i.e. most senior officers other than those in major commands) analyzing current situation in country and strongly upholding army’s traditional role as a non-partisan defender of democratic institutions. Letter (of which [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has acquired copy) is anti-Communist and by obvious implication anti-Goulart, condemning, for example, unattributed intentions of closing Congress and calling Constituent Assembly.

Comment: Castello Branco, who is perhaps Brazil’s most energetic, courageous and responsible army general on active service, is reported by ARMA [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] recently to have agreed to lead democratic resistance group in military. In his letter he is assuming this leadership and throwing his own very considerable prestige against Goulart in direct challenge to latter.

3) According [less than 1 line of source text not declassified], WarMin Jair currently in hospital for gall bladder operation learned of letter only on March 24, on eve his operation. He was furious and almost called off operation. According ARMA, who got it from Army Chief Surgeon, Jair recovering well but under any hypothesis will be away from work for at least 30 days.

4) According ARMA, who has obtained copies of documents in question, leaders of Democratic Military Group are sending by safehand to officers sympathetic to their cause throughout Brazil 3 questionnaires, which are in reality instructions telling them how to put their units in readiness to resist undemocratic moves by President and/or left. Second "questionnaire" which is intended only for most trustworthy officers, suggests that responsibility for giving signal for action against regime should be vested in single senior officer.

Comment: This single senior officer will presumably be understood to be General Castello Branco.

General Comment: While above mentioned events are encouraging in showing better leadership and new elements of organization among democratic military resistance group, they also obviously introduce short-term factors of instability into situation.



187. Telegram From the Ambassador to Brazil (Gordon) to the Department of State/1/

Rio de Janeiro, March 28, 1964.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ. Top Secret; Immediate; Exdis. Received in the Department at 8:01 p.m., March 27. Bundy received an advance copy of this telegram on March 27. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64) The next morning Bundy briefed the President on "a very disquieting message" from Gordon: "We will have a recommendation for you, I think, on the wire. It’s a standby problem, but it might explode, he says, anytime in the next month or so, day to day or month to month." (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Bundy, March 28, 1964, 9:30 a.m. CST, Tape F64.21, Side A, PNO 1) The President was at his Ranch in Texas, March 26-31.

[telegram number not declassified]. The following is [telegram number not declassified] transmitted at the request of Ambassador Gordon:

Personal from Ambassador Gordon. Please pass immediately to Sec. State Rusk, Assistant Secretary Mann, Ralph Burton, Sec. Defense McNamara, Assistant Sec. Defense McNaughton, General Maxwell Taylor, CIA Director John McCone, Col. J.C. King, Desmond FitzGerald, White House for Bundy and Dungan, pass to Canal Zone for General O’Meara. Other distribution only by approval above named.

1. Since returning to Rio 22 March I have canvassed Brazilian situation thoroughly with key civilian and military staff members here, convoking Sao Paulo and Brasilia Post Chiefs to assist and also making selected contact with some well informed Brazilians.

2. My considered conclusion is that Goulart is now definitely engaged on campaign to seize dictatorial power, accepting the active collaboration of the Brazilian Communist Party, and of other radical left revolutionaries to this end. If he were to succeed it is more than likely that Brazil would come under full Communist control, even though Goulart might hope to turn against his Communist supporters on the Peronist model which I believe he personally prefers.

3. The immediate tactics of the Goulart palace guard are concentrated on pressures to secure from the Congress constitutional reforms unattainable by normal means, using a combination of urban street demonstrations, threatened or actual strikes, sporadic rural violence, and abuse of the enormous discretionary financial power of the federal government. This is being coupled with a series of populist executive decrees of dubious legality and an inspired rumor campaign of other decrees calculated to frighten resistance elements. Especially important in this connection is the ability of the President to weaken resistance at the state level by withholding essential federal financing. The government is also subjecting radio and TV outlets to a partial censorship, increasing the use of the National News Agency and requisitioning broadcast time for its reformist propaganda, and making thinly veiled threats against the opposition press. The purpose is not in fact to secure constructive social and economic reforms, but to discredit the existing constitution and the Congress, laying a foundation for a coup from the top down which might then be ratified by a rigged plebiscite and the rewriting of the constitution by a rigged Constituent Assembly.

4. I do not wholly discard the hypothesis of Goulart’s being frightened off this campaign and serving out his normal term (until January 31, 1966) with proper presidential elections being held in October, 1965. This would still be the best outcome for Brazil and for the United States if it can happen. Goulart’s commitments to the revolutionary left are now so far-reaching, however, that the chances of achieving this peaceful outcome through constitutional normalcy seem a good deal less than 50-50. He may make tactical retreats to tranquilize the opposition again, as he has in the past. There are some signs that this has happened in the past few days, as a result of the 19 March massive opposition street rally in Sao Paulo, the declared hostility of the governors of several major states, and warnings and rumblings within the officer corps, especially of the army. But past experience shows that each tactical retreat leaves considerable ground gained and the next advance goes further than the previous one. With his time running out and the candidates for the succession getting actively into the field, Goulart is under pressure to act faster and with less calculation of the risks. Misgovernment is also accelerating the rate of inflation to a point threatening economic breakdown and social disorder. A desperate lunge for totalitarian power might be made at any time.

5. The Goulart movement, including its Communist affiliates, represents a small minority-not more than 15 to 20 percent of the people or the Congress. It has systematically taken control of many strategic points, however, notably Petrobras (which under the decree of March 13 is now taking over the five remaining private oil refineries not already under its control), the Department of Posts and Telegraphs, the trade union leadership in oil, railroads, ports, merchant shipping, the newly formed rural workers’ associations, and some other key industries, the military and civil households of the presidency, important units of the Ministries of Justice and Education, and elements in many other government agencies. In the armed forces, there are a number of far leftist officers, who have been given preferment and key assignments by Goulart, but the overwhelming majority are legalist and anti-Communist and there is a modest minority of long-standing right-wing coup supporters. The left has sought to weaken the armed forces through subversive organization of the non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel, with significant results especially in the air force and navy.

6. I undertook in March 21 talk with Secretary Rusk/2/ to appraise the strength and spirit of the resistance forces and the circumstances that might trigger internal violence and showdown. I find that since the Goulart-syndicalist street rally in Rio on March 13 there has been a radical polarization of attitudes. Political and public leadership in crystallizing overt support for the constitution and Congress, for reforms only within the constitution, and for rejection of communism, has come from a group of governors: Lacerda of Guanabara, Adhemar de Barros of Sao Paulo, Meneghetti of Rio Grande do Sul, Braga of Parana, and (somewhat to my surprise) Magalhaes Pinto of Minas Gerais. They have been fortified by the clear declaration of ex-President Marshal Dutra and the nomination acceptance speech of Kubitschek. The huge pro-democratic rally in Sao Paulo March 19, largely organized by women’s groups, has provided an important element of mass popular showing, which reacts favorably in turn on Congress and the armed forces.

/2/According to Rusk’s Appointment Book, he met Mann, Gordon, Burton, King, and FitzGerald at 10:02 a.m., March 21. (Johnson Library) No substantive record of the meeting has been found.

7. There is a reciprocal interdependence of action between Congress and the armed forces. Congressional resistance to illegal executive actions and to unwarranted presidential demands for constitutional change depends on the conviction that the members will have military coverage if they take a stand. The legalist tradition of the armed forces is so strong that they would desire, if at all possible, congressional coverage for any action against Goulart. The action of Congress is therefore one major key to the situation.

8. While a clear majority of Congress mistrusts Goulart’s purposes and scorns his evident incompetence, the present consensus of anti-Goulart congressional leaders is that an absolute majority of the lower house cannot now be mustered for impeachment. They also oppose a move of Congress away from Brasilia as tending to undercut their already tarnished prestige, although they would keep open a dramatic retreat to Sao Paulo or elsewhere as a last resort in a near civil war or open civil war situation. They are presently focussing on the approval of some mild reform measures as one way of countering Goulart’s anti-Congress campaign, and considering other more affirmative means of showing resistance. They are most unlikely to vote a plebiscite law, a delegation of powers, legalization of the Communist Party, votes for illiterates, or other political changes sought by Goulart.

9. By all odds the most significant development is the crystallizing of a military resistance group under the leadership of Gen. Humberto Castello Branco, Army Chief of Staff. Castello Branco is a highly competent, discreet, honest, and deeply respected officer who has strong loyalty to legal and constitutional principles and until recently shunned any approaches from anti-Goulart conspirators. He has associated with him a group of other well placed senior officers and is now assuming control and systematic direction of the widespread but hitherto loosely organized resistance groups, military and civilian, in all areas of the country.

10. Castello Branco’s preference would be to act only in case of obvious unconstitutional provocation, e.g., a Goulartist move to close Congress or to intervene in one of the opposition states (Guanabara or Sao Paulo being the most likely ones). He recognizes, however (as do I) that Goulart may avoid such obvious provocation, while continuing to move toward an irreversible fait accompli by means of manipulated strikes, financial undermining of the states, and an executive plebiscite-including voting by illiterates-to back up a Bonapartist or Gaullist-type assumption of power. Castello Branco is therefore preparing for a possible move sparked by a Communist-led general strike call, another sergeants’ rebellion, a plebiscite call opposed by Congress, or even a major governmental countermove against the democratic military or civilian leadership. In these cases, political coverage might have to come in the first instance from a grouping of state governors declaring themselves the legitimate Government of Brazil, with congressional endorsement following (if Congress were still able to act). It is also possible that Goulart might resign under pressure from solid military opposition, either to flee the country or to lead a "populist" revolutionary movement. The possibilities clearly include civil war, with some horizontal or vertical division within the armed forces, aggravated by the widespread possession of arms in civilian hands on both sides.

11. Unlike the many previous anti-Goulart coup groups who have approached us during the past two and one half years, the Castello Branco movement shows prospects of wide support and competent leadership. If our influence is to be brought to bear to help avert a major disaster here-which might make Brazil the China of the 1960s-this is where both I and all my senior advisors believe our support should be placed. (Secretaries Rusk and Mann should note that Alberto Byington/3/ is working with this group.) We hold this view even should Castello Branco be relieved as Army Chief of Staff.

/3/According to Adolf A. Berle, Byington, a Brazilian businessman, had been working to forestall a "Goulart dictatorship" and "bought on his own credit a shipload of oil to make sure the Brazilian Navy would be able to function." (Diary entry, April 2, 1964; Beatrice Bishop Berle and Travis Beal Jacobs, eds. Navigating the Rapids, 1918-1971: From the Papers of Adolf A. Berle, pp. 788-789)

12. Despite their strength in the officer corps, the resistance group is concerned about the adequacy of arms and the possible sabotage of POL supplies. Within the coming week, we will be apprised of their estimates of needed arms through contact between ARMA and Gen. Cintra, righthand man of Castello Branco. POL needs would include the navy fuel now being sought by Byington together with motor fuel and aviation gasoline.

13. Given the absolute uncertainty of timing of a possible trigger incident (which could occur tomorrow or any other day); we recommend (a) that measures be taken soonest to prepare for a clandestine delivery of arms of non-US origin, to be made available to Castello Branco supporters in Sao Paulo as soon as requirements known and arrangements can be worked out. Best delivery means now apparent to us is unmarked submarine to be off-loaded at night in isolated shore spots in state of Sao Paulo south of Santos, probably near Iguape or Gananeia. (b) This should be accompanied by POL availabilities (bulk, packaged, or both may be required), also avoiding USG identification, with deliveries to await outbreak active hostilities. Action on this (Deptel 1281)/4/ should proceed forthwith.

/4/Telegram 1281 to Rio de Janeiro, March 26, reported: "Defense providing list of materials required and other data on POL tanker action we discussed with you. Urgently awaiting your on-scene assessment of total situation as basis for moving ahead on this and on shaping next steps vis-à-vis Brazil." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 2 BRAZ)

14. The above two actions might suffice to secure victory for friendly forces without any overt US logistical or military participation, especially if politically covered by prompt US recognition our side as legitimate GOB. We should, however, also prepare without delay against the contingency of needed overt intervention at a second stage and also against the possibility of Soviet action to support the Communist-leaning side. To minimize possibilities of a prolonged civil war and secure the adherence of large numbers of band-wagon jumpers, our ability to demonstrate commitment and some show of force with great speed could be crucial. For this purpose and in keeping with our Washington talks March 21, one possibility appears to be the early detachment of a naval task force for maneuvers in south Atlantic, bringing them within a few days’ steaming distance of Santos. Logistical supplies should meet requirements specified in CINC South Brazil contingency Plan (USSCJTFP-Brazil)/5/ reviewed here March 9. Carrier aircraft would be most important for psychological effect. Marine contingent could perform logistical security tasks set forth CINC South Plan. We would welcome advice soonest on this or alternative methods meeting objective described above.

/5/Reference is apparently to "US Southern Command Contingency Plan," undated. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. III, 4/64)

15. We recognize problem uncertain duration of need these forces in area. With near-daily crises of varying intensity here, however, and violence ready to become epidemic through rural land invasion, clashes of rival Communist and democratic street meeting, or general strike efforts, and with programmed crescendo of Goulart actions with special commitment to "having achieved basic reforms" by August 24 (tenth anniversary of Vargas suicide), real danger exists of eruption civil war at any time. Only convincing sign of latter would be clean sweep of extremists from military and civilian palace guard. Current episode of rebellious sailors demonstrates fragility of situation and possible imminence of showdown.

16. We are meanwhile undertaking complementary measures with our available resources to help strengthen resistance forces. These include covert support for pro-democracy street rallies (next big one being April 2 here in Rio, and others being programmed), discreet passage of word that USG deeply concerned at events, and encouragement democratic and anti-Communist sentiment in Congress, armed forces, friendly labor and student groups, church, and business. We may be requesting modest supplementary funds for other covert action programs in near future.

17. I also believe that it would be useful, without entering into detail, for Sec State or Presidential press conference response to indicate concern at reports of economic deterioration and political restlessness in Brazil and importance to future of hemisphere that Brazil, true to its deep-rooted democratic and constitutional traditions, will continue its economic and social progress under representative democracy. We recommend such statement in next few days.

18. This message is not an alarmist or panicky reaction to any one episode. It reflects the joint conclusions of the top Embassy staff based on a long chain of actions and intelligence information which convince us that there is a real and present danger to democracy and freedom in Brazil which could carry this enormous nation into the Communist camp. If this were a country of less strategic importance to the U.S.-both directly and in its impact on all Latin America-we might suggest a further period of watchful waiting in the hope that Brazilian resistance unaided would take care of the problem. We believe that there is substantial likelihood that it may do so, given the basic sentiments and attitudes of the majority of the people and the strength of organized democratic sentiment especially in the southern half of the country. The power of Goulart and the presidency to sap and undermine resistance is so great, however, that our manifest support, both moral and material and even at substantial cost, may well be essential to maintain the backbone of the Brazilian resistance. No loss of time can be afforded in preparing for such action. The alternative of risking a Communist Brazil appears unacceptable, implying potentially far greater ultimate costs in both money and lives.


188. Memorandum of Conversation/1/

Washington, March 28, 1964.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, Cables, 3/64. Top Secret; No Distribution. Another copy of the memorandum indicates it was cleared by Bundy. (Memorandum from Chase to Bundy, March 30; ibid.) The meeting was held at the White House. FitzGerald also drafted an account of the meeting, portions of which are summarized in footnotes below.


Alexis Johnson, Robert Adams, Ralph Burton, Gen. Goodpaster, Gen. Crawford, Richard Helms, Desmond FitzGerald, J.C. King, McGeorge Bundy, Gordon Chase

The group discussed the situation in Brazil with particular reference to Ambassador Gordon’s message of March 27, 1964 (copy attached)./2/

/2/ Document 187.

1. General-The group agreed that it would be preferable if we could waffle through to the next election. However, this is obviously not the primary consideration; we don’t want to watch Brazil dribble down the drain while we stand around waiting for the election.

The group discussed the present situation vis-à-vis Goulart and the Brazilian military. It is not at all clear when and at what point we can expect the military to act against the regime. Mr. Bundy said that the shape of the problem is such that we should not be worrying that the military will react; we should be worrying that the military will not react. Mr. Adams thought that the military would certainly react if Goulart started firing any of the plotting army commanders. The group agreed that, in any event, all the plotters in Brazil should react on the same signal./3/

/3/ According to FitzGerald "there was considerable discussion concerning the need on the part of the anti-Goulart plotters to come to agreement concerning the nature of Goulart actions which would trigger a revolt. Mr. Burton referred to a recent State cable from Ambassador Gordon in which seven possible triggers were mentioned. It was pointed out that Goulart has the capability of weakening the conspiracy by dismissing or reassigning certain of the key military members of the conspiracy. There was some speculation as to whether such dismissals would result in counter-action by the conspirators." (Memorandum for the record, March 28; National Security Council, 303 Committee Files, Subject Files, Brazil)

Mr. FitzGerald wondered whether we will have a problem in deciding when to move in favor of the anti-Goulart forces; how far will we have to let Goulart go? Others felt that this would not be a serious problem; there would be plenty of signals we could act on.

2. Ambassador Gordon’s Request-The group discussed Ambassador Gordon’s requests for action by Washington.

(a) Submarine Delivery of Arms-The group agreed that this was a puzzling request. Mr. Johnson wondered why the Brazilian Army would need a drop of this relatively small size; the military must have plenty of arms.

(b) Petroleum-The group agreed that the request for POL was legitimate. Noting that the 2nd Army in the Sao Paulo area is the most likely to be anti-Goulart, [11⁄2 lines of source text not declassified]. This would be used if an anti-Goulart move takes place. It was noted that the Army must have the ability to march from Sao Paulo to take over Rio; such action, by the way, would probably end the fight.

(c) Task Force-The group questioned Ambassador Gordon’s request for the early detachment of a naval task force for maneuvers in the South Atlantic. Mr. Bundy noted that ". . . the punishment doesn’t seem to fit the crime . . .". Gen. Goodpaster also did not clearly understand how this particular move would be helpful to the anti-Goulart forces at this time.

(d) Public Statement-The general consensus was that there should not be a high-level public statement of concern about the deteriorating situation in Brazil. The group went on to discuss the possibility of stimulating an appropriate editorial in the N.Y. Times or The Washington Post. The group agreed, however, that this would have to be handled carefully since the editorial could easily come out in an unsatisfactory way (e.g., "Once again, the State Department has misunderstood the deep revolutionary forces in Latin America . . .").

(e) Belo Horizonte Meeting-The group agreed that we are better off to let the Belo meeting go on on April 21, and then do what we can to make it a flop. Mr. FitzGerald noted that if we try to stop the meeting and are successful, the meeting might be held in a place where our capabilities for making it a flop are not as great as they are in Belo.

3. Action Items-The group agreed that the following action should be taken:

(a) [4 lines of source text not declassified]

(b) Mr. Burton will explore the possibility of getting the N.Y. Times to publish a satisfactory editorial calling attention to the situation in Brazil; among other things, he will try to determine what the N.Y. Times has said about Goulart in the past. Mr. Bundy will explore the possibility of getting an appropriate editorial from The Washington Post./4/

/4/ Although The Washington Post did not print an "appropriate editorial," The New York Times published the following assessment: "The political situation is close to chaos. President Goulart is a curious combination of stubbornness and weakness. He has proved in recent years that he loves power, needs power and will do almost anything to hold on to it." (New York Times, March 31, 1964, p. 34)

(c) State will send a cable to Ambassador Gordon which, inter alia, will say (a) that we are taking action with respect to petroleum; (b) that we are still not clear as to the rationale behind the Ambassador’s requests for a submarine drop and for a task force appearance; (c) that we want the Ambassador to review our economic and financial relations with Brazil and give us his recommendation on action we should take; and (d) that we question the desirability of a high-level public statement at this time. The cable will also instruct Ambassador Gordon to keep a high level of security in his contact with anti-Goulart forces. We don’t want to hamper him in making contact, but want him to use a cut-out. Above all, we don’t want to turn off our hearing aids./5/

/5/ [text not declassified] (Memorandum for the record, March 28; National Security Council, 303 Committee Files, Subject Files, Brazil)



189. Telegram From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson in Texas/1/

Washington, March 28, 1964.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64. Top Secret; Priority. No time of transmission appears on the telegram; it was received by the White House Army Signal Agency at 6:56 p.m. Printed from a draft copy that includes Bundy’s minor handwritten revisions. A note indicates that the copy sent to the President was "retrieved and destroyed."

CAP 64100. To Colonel Connell for the President from Bundy. Following two messages are: first, a long and important message from Ambassador Gordon, and a summary of a response which we are making.

Text of Gordon Message:/2/

/2/ Document 187. Although the text does not appear here, a copy of the telegram was forwarded to the President. A handwritten note indicates the copy was returned to Dungan on March 30.

After interdepartmental consultation with DOD, JCS, State and CIA, we are drafting an answer/3/ which in substance will do the following:

/3/ See Document 190.

1. Inform Gordon that neither submarine landing nor carrier task force sounds right to us and ask for further elaboration of their thinking.

2. Tell him that we think key problem in event of Army action is supply and are actively preparing a covert capability for rapid supply in this field.

3. Ask Gordon to review our economic and financial relations with Brazil and recommend any desirable actions in the light of gathering crisis.

4. Instruct him to insure highest degree of security consistent with effective communication to anti-Goulart elements.

5. Question advisability of early strong public statement here. Instead we are exploring possibility of generating active press comment against Goulart since this strengthens his opponents without setting up USG as target of his demagoguery.

6. Make plain that fundamentally we share Gordon’s concern that he can rely on us for effective action if worst comes to worst.


190. Telegram From the Department of State to the Ambassador to Brazil (Gordon)/1/

Washington, March 28, 1964.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64. Top Secret. Drafted by Adams and Burton. Printed from a draft copy of the telegram. A typewritten note indicates that it was "cleared in substance at a White House meeting."

1. Steps being taken to provide tanker service for POL requirements as estimated here. Our estimate based on 30 day supply MO gas for Sao Paulo forces for both combat and movement as far as Rio or Porto Alegre, AV gas for 40 squadron 11⁄2 hour sorties, and navy special and diesel fuel for 30 days. Hope to advise you fully of detailed implementation within few days.

2. Exploring with other agencies additional courses of action recommended in your report but awaiting word from you on logistic support required. In this connection, while not desirous of disrupting needed contacts or normal ARMA activities, hope you and ARMA or other key staff can avoid direct contact with military plotters. Leave to your judgment but suggest that [2 lines of source text not declassified].

3. To what purposes would armaments offloaded from submarine be put? How critical would small shipment this kind be to success of main military thrust? Questions also arise here about feasibility furnishing unmarked or non-US origin arms without these later being attributed to US covert operation.

4. Would not Brazilian military be able to provide military protection in Sao Paulo-Santos areas for logistic support? If so, why is there any need for stand-by US naval units or follow-up military participation? Doubtful we can provide plausible cover for naval operation.

5. Would appreciate more detail on status of Castello Branco operation and on estimated alignment and relative effectiveness, actual or potential, of officers and key elements in the four armies and other armed forces; also degree likelihood various possible Goulart actions which would trigger their resistance. To what extent would such estimates be affected by (a) Congressional support or non-support (b) differing degrees gubernatorial action?

6. Reply to your query on coffee tax or blocking coffee receipts in preparation and will advise by April 1. How does your assessment affect debt negotiations? Should we abandon, slow down or otherwise modify debt negotiating strategy to avoid strengthening Goulart’s prestige? Should we hold up approval or announcement of AID loans? Are other non-military measures desirable further to polarize situation to Goulart’s disadvantage?

7. Statement by President or Secretary not believed desirable at this time.


191. Telegram From the Ambassador to Brazil (Gordon) to the Department of State/1/

Rio de Janeiro, March 29, 1964.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64. Top Secret. Printed from a draft copy of the telegram. It was forwarded to the White House on March 30. (Memorandum from Helms to Bundy, March 30; ibid.)

Personal from Ambassador Gordon. Please pass immediately to Secretary of State Rusk, Assistant Secretary Mann, Ralph Burton, Secretary Defense McNamara, Assistant Secretary Defense McNaughton, General Maxwell Taylor, CIA Director John McCone, Colonel J.C. King, Desmond FitzGerald, White House for Bundy and Dungan, pass to Canal Zone for General O’Meara. Other distribution only by approval above named.

1. Since my message on Friday,/2/ effects of Navy crisis have substantially worsened the overall situation and possibly shortened the time factors. The replacement of Navy Minister Silvio Mota by a superannuated left-wing Admiral, Paulo Mario Cunha Rodrigues, reliably reported to have been proposed by Communist leaders and the CGT, the retention of Aragao as Marine Commandant, and the total amnesty for the rebellious sailors and Marines, are all body blows to the morale of the officer corps of all three services and are apparently frightening many congressmen. (We expect more light on latter point from Brasilia Monday.)/3/ The worst feature of the episode is that the tactical moves by the palace Friday afternoon were directed hour by hour by a close-knit group composed mainly of Communists. Left-wing group now talking openly about new advances beginning with "cleaning out the Army". Resistance forces, both military and civilian, seeking recover from unexpected setback and consulting feverishly on future courses of action.

/2/ Document 187. The Navy crisis began on March 24 when the Navy Minister, Sílvio Mota, imprisoned six leaders of the sailors’ association for political activities. On March 25 the sailors’ association responded with a rally in the Guanabara metalworkers’ building, refusing to leave until a new minister released their comrades. After negotiating for 3 days Goulart accepted the sailors’ terms, forcing Mota’s resignation.

/3/ Telegrams 127, 128, and 129 from Brasilia, March 30, reported on Congressional reaction to events surrounding the Navy crisis. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64)

2. Re para 2 of reference,/4/ will transmit bill of goods as soon as available. I have had no direct contact with military plotters. My definite judgement is that ARMA must continue intelligence contacts for which he uniquely qualified, but that any operational contacts will become responsibility of [less than 1 line of source text not declassified].

/4/ Document 187.

3. Re para 3 of Saturday’s message /4/ purpose of unidentified arms made available soonest and if possible pre-positioned prior any outbreak of violence could be manifold, depending on unforeseeable development of events. Could be used by para-military units working with democratic military groups, or by friendly military against hostile military if necessary. Immediate effect, which we stress, would be bolster will to resist and facilitate initial success. Given Brazilian predilection joining victorious causes, initial success could be key to side on which many indecisive forces would land and therefore key to prompt victory with minimal violence. Risk of later attribution to US Government covert operation seems minor to us in relation positive effects if operation conducted with skill, bearing in mind that many things we don’t do are being regularly so attributed.

/4/ Document 187.

4. Re paragraph 4 of Saturday’s message, my purpose in paragraphs 14 and 18 of Friday’s message was to make clear that in civil war type situation our ability show force promptly in response appeal from politically recognized democratic side might be crucial determining factor in early victory that side. I well understand how grave a decision is implied in this contingency commitment to overt military intervention here. But we must also weigh seriously the possible alternative, which I am not predicting but can envisage as real danger of defeat of democratic resistance and communization of Brazil. We did not intend naval operation to be covert, and overt maneuvers in South Atlantic could be healthy influence.

5. Re para 5 of Saturday’s message recent ARMA [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] reports cover much of this ground. We will continue studying and reporting regularly on these questions, especially possibility and consequences initiative of group of governors without prior Congressional coverage.

6. Re para 6 of Saturday’s message, I see no present point in foot-dragging on debt negotiations or hold action on AID loans, unless preceded by some clear indication of United States government concern with basic problem of Brazilian political regime. No one expects action on debts until a month hence anyway. In case of AID projects of direct interest to clearly democratic elements, such as Cemat, we believe approvals and announcements should continue. We shall evaluate each case as it arises in light of political effects at the time. If we later reach point of wanting to suspend aid publicly, which would be especially dramatic if wheat included, more appropriate time would be in response more obvious political developments than have yet occurred and which would probably include direct attacks on our economic interests. On this subject I await eagerly your April 1 advice on coffee penalties.

7. What is needed now is a sufficiently clear indication of United States government concern to reassure the large numbers of democrats in Brazil that we are not indifferent to the danger of a Communist revolution here, but couched in terms that cannot be openly rejected by Goulart as undue intervention. I am cancelling my trip programmed to Alagoas and Bahia Monday through Wednesday, sending Kubish to represent me, and this cancellation will convey some measure of concern. Our discreet, informal contacts with friendly Brazilians also help. Nothing that we here can do, however, will be nearly as influential as a high-level Washington statement. Press reports at home on the navy crisis surely could serve as a peg for such statement.

8. I therefore reiterate recommendation in para 17 of Friday’s message. In light developments described para 1 this message, earliest possible action would achieve optimum results.


192. Telegram From the Army Attaché in Brazil (Walters) to the Department of the Army/1/

Rio de Janeiro, March 30, 1964.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, Cables, 3/64. Secret. Repeated to DIA, CINCSO, and COMUSARSO. No time of transmission appears on the copy printed here which is an information copy sent from the JCS and received at the White House at 7:12 p.m., and includes a handwritten note from Bromley Smith: "Linc Gordon asked that all who received his messages see this one from our army attaché."

ARMA saw General Cintra at 2400 hours local Sunday./2/ He had just come from meeting of resistance movement to Goulart and said it had been decided to take action this week on a signal to be issued later. Response to Castello Branco document from Second Army Commander General Kruel fully satisfactory. Kruel stated that he agreed one hundred percent with document and considered himself released from any obligation to Goulart by reasons of latter’s recent actions. Kruel added that if relieved as Second Army Commander he would not turn over command. Cintra said that when Castello Branco is relieved as Chief of Staff early this week he will immediately issue denunciation to nation. Helicopter has been laid on to move Castello Branco, Gen Cordeiro de Farias/3/ and Marshal Dutra out of Rio and on to Sao Paulo when movement is imminent. Cintra indicated that he and BGEN Syseno Garmento will remain in Rio de Janeiro. BGEN Moniz de Aragao will operate in Rio Vila Militar. Movement in Vila Militar will begin from bottom up and plans have been made to neutralize key units believed to be favorable to Goulart and leftists. Cintra said that central command of movement would initially be in Sao Paulo. Arrangements have been made with navy and air force for joint action. BGEN Souto Malan proceeding this morning to Porto Alegre with full instructions for Maj Gen Adalberto Pereira dos Santos there in command of Sixth Inf Div and next senior officer to Third Army Commander. Cintra confident of Minas Gerais Garrison and said Governor Magalhaes Pinto of that state eager for move. Total movement may be triggered by meeting of democratic governors in Porto Alegre on Wednesday./4/ Day not yet decided for initiation of movement. Cintra seemed confident of success.

/2/ March 29.

/3/ Reference is to the following military leaders: Osvaldo Cordeiro de Farias, former Armed Forces Chief of Staff; Eurico Gaspar Dutra, former President of Brazil (1946-1951); Siseno Sarmento, Chief of Staff to Costa e Silva; and Augusto César Moniz de Aragão.

/4/ April 1.

Major Moraes Rego leaves in morning for Recife carrying instructions for Fourth Army Commander Justino Alves Bastos. Comment: While this may be only talk ARMA has never seen Cintra as assured and positive. ARMA expects to be aware beforehand of go signal and will report in consequence. If opposition intends to do something this is time. Cintra stated flatly move would occur during coming week barring overriding reason for postponement as further waiting would only help Goulart./5/

/5/ Walters gave the following account in his memoirs: "I told the Ambassador [Gordon] on Sunday, March 30, that all of my information pointed to an imminent action by those Brazilian officers who feared that further delay would create an irreversible situation. I told the Ambassador that I felt the provocation the plotters had been awaiting had just been given by the President [Goulart] in seeking to disrupt the discipline, unity and hierarchy of the armed services." (Silent Missions, p. 386) At 7 p.m. (EST), Gordon reported: "Conviction is spreading here also that showdown will result from current sequence of events. We think critical point could come soon, perhaps even in next day or so." (Telegram 2116 from Rio de Janeiro, March 30; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9)


193. Telephone Conversation Between Secretary of State Rusk and President Johnson/1/

March 30, 1964, 9:35 p.m.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Rusk, Tape F64.21, Side B, PNO 1. No classification marking. Rusk was in Washington; the President was in Texas. According to the President’s Daily Diary, Rusk placed the call. (Johnson Library) The beginning of the conversation was not recorded. This transcript was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume.

Rusk:-Mann and group here, including CIA, on this Brazilian situation./2/ The crisis is coming to a head in the next day or two, perhaps even over night. There is a snowballing of resistance to Goulart and therefore the thing may break at any moment. The armed forces, the governors, particularly in populated states of the east coast, seem to be building up real resistance there. I would like to send a message to Linc Gordon. I’d like to read it to you, if I may, and then also indicate that I’ve asked Bob McNamara to get some tankers ready for some POL supplies and things of that sort.

/2/ Rusk met at 6 p.m. with Mann, Burton, U. Alexis Johnson, Adams, and Ball; the meeting was joined in progress by Greenfield, Bundy, Noland, and FitzGerald. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Book) They met to draft instructions to Ambassador Gordon in Rio de Janeiro and were still meeting when the telephone conversation between Rusk and Johnson began. During the discussion a decision was reached to have a Navy task force commence moving as quickly as possible. The CIA representatives’ suggestion that this task force "include an LSD loaded with a barge containing appropriate arms and ammunition, in case of a semi-clandestine arms drop, was accepted. Secretary McNamara was advised of this decision." (Memorandum for the record by FitzGerald, March 31; Central Intelligence Agency, Job 78-03041R, [file name not declassified])

[Rusk reads a draft of Document 194.]

Rusk: Now the situation is that-

President: Are you through with the message?

Rusk: Yes.

President: What you-

Rusk: Now, the situation basically is that there is a very substantial build-up of resistance to Goulart. Now, if the governors of the key states of the east coast, such as Minas Gerais and Sao Paolo, and all those heavily populated states of the east coast who are anti-Goulart, should join together with the armed forces who are stationed in those key states, then I think this may be something that we will have to go along with and get in touch with. And we need to get Linc Gordon’s fundamental judgment. I tell him that this is the principle judgment that he has got to make in which he will earn his pay. He’s got to tell us his best judgment as to whether this is an opportunity which will not be repeated, and which, if not taken now, will give Goulart a chance to undermine his opposition, and take Brazil down the road to a Communist dictatorship. This message that I have read to you does not commit you in any way, it simply, basically asking him for information, to give him a certain atmosphere of our attitude here-

President: The effect though, what it says is get somebody legitimate and get him substantial and don’t let it go Communist./3/

/3/ According to FitzGerald, Rusk said that "the President instructed him that under no circumstances should Brazil be allowed to go Communist."

Rusk: That’s right. And I talked to Bob McNamara to lay on some tankers to get some POL supplies and other things on the way. And also General O’Meara has been ordered by Bob McNamara to come to New York, to Washington tonight to talk about contingency plans that might be needed in this situation. So I would like just to send off this in effect advisory telegram to Linc Gordon, our Ambassador, to see whether by morning or during the day tomorrow that we might want to make a decision here as to how we move in this situation.

President: Sure.

Rusk: That’s all right?

President: That sounds good. That’s fine.

Rusk: Now I have also, we had an unfortunate accident today. The House Foreign Affairs Committee put out a report on, that included some references to Brazil, a report that was prepared last January, that included a reference to the fact that we did not expect an early Communist takeover in Brazil.

President: Was prepared January ‘64?

Rusk: That’s right. Now I, background has impressed people tonight to have them say that a high State Department official said that the situation in Brazil had deteriorated in the meantime, since that report was issued, that we are deeply concerned about the prospects for representative and constitutional democracy in Brazil. Because if this report had gone down, goes down to Brazil without some sort of a correction, Goulart might take this as a blessing for the things he’s trying to do. So without any direct quote of you or me, I did do some backgrounding to try to counteract one or two sentences in this report, for its, because of its impact in Brazil tomorrow morning.

President: All right.

[Omitted here is discussion of Panama.]

Rusk: Right. Now, except for this Brazilian matter, I can call you early in the morning. There’s nothing here other than Brazil that would pull you back to Washington tomorrow rather than Wednesday. But I think this Brazilian matter just could blow over night, and I’ll be in touch with you about it, so that you can make your plans.

President: Fine. Call me, if not I’ll be coming back on Wednesday, but I’ll come any time I need to./4/

/4/ The President later told Reedy that Rusk "expects something could happen tonight. So I rather expect we ought to go on back to Washington as soon as we can without being emergency. I don’t see anything to be gained to be in Johnson City with the Hemisphere going Communist." (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Reedy, March 30, 1964, 9:35 p.m. CST, Tape F64.21, Side B, PNO 2)

Rusk: Oh, fine. Thank you, Mr. President.

President: Bye.

Rusk: Bye.


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

Washington, March 30, 1964, 9:52 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ. Top Secret; Flash; Nodis. Drafted and approved by Rusk.

1296. For Ambassador from Secretary.

US policy toward Brazil is based upon our determination to support in every possible way maintenance of representative and constitutional government in Brazil free from continuing threat of dictatorship from the left erected through a Goulart/Brizzola manipulation. It is of great importance that there be a preemption of the position of legitimacy by those who will oppose communist and other extremist influences. It is highly desirable, therefore, that if action is taken by the armed forces such action be preceded or accompanied by a clear demonstration of unconstitutional actions on the part of Goulart or his colleagues or that legitimacy be confirmed by acts of the Congress (if it is free to act) or by expressions of the key governors or by some other means which gives substantial claim to legitimacy.

With respect to US support capabilities, we can act promptly on financial and economic measures. With regard to military assistance logistic factors are important. Surface vessels loaded with arms and ammunition could not reach southern Brazil before at least ten days. Airlift could be provided promptly if an intermediate field at Recife, or other airfields in northeast Brazil capable of handling large jet transports, is secure and made available. In ambiguous situation it may be difficult for us to obtain permission for intermediate stops from other countries such as Peru.

You should ask your own service attachés, without consulting Brazilian authorities just yet, to prepare recommendations on types of arms and ammunition most likely to be required in light of their knowledge of the situation.

In fast moving situation we are asking all of our posts in Brazil to feed Washington continual flow of information on significant developments their areas and to stay on 24-hour alert.

At this particular moment it is important that US Government not put itself in position which would be deeply embarrassing if Goulart, Mazzilli, Congressional leaders and armed forces leadership reach accommodation in next few hours which would leave us branded with an awkward attempt at intervention. However, every disposition here is to be ready to support those elements who would move to prevent Brazil from falling under an authentic dictatorship of the left heavily infiltrated or controlled by the communists. Obviously, in a country of over 75 million people, larger than continental United States, this is not a job for a handful of United States Marines. A major determination by the authentic leadership of Brazil and a preemption of the position of legitimacy are the greatest possible importance. We will not, however, be paralyzed by theoretical niceties if the options are clearly between the genuinely democratic forces of Brazil and a communist dominated dictatorship.

As we see problem tonight, the greatest danger may well be that Goulart will be able to pull back enough within next day or two to confuse situation, blunt edge of key incipient conservative military action, and gain more time to paralyze those elements who could resist a Communist infiltrated authoritarian regime. Fragmentary reports reaching here tonight suggest that anti-Goulart forces may be developing a certain momentum. Our big problem is to determine whether this presents an opportunity which might not be repeated. In this case we would wish to make a major decision as to whether and by what means we might give additional impetus to forces now in motion consistent with considerations expressed above. No judgment you have been required to make will compare to this in earning the pay of an underpaid Ambassador.



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

Rio de Janeiro, March 31, 1964, 9 a.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ. Secret; Flash; Limdis. Repeated Immediate to Brasilia, Sao Paulo, and Recife. Received in the Department at 7:12 a.m., and passed to White House, CIA, JCS, OSD, and CINCSO.

2121. Pass White House, OSD, JCS, CINCSOUTH, CIA.

[less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has just received word from [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] that "balloon has gone up" in Minas Gerais and that revolt against Goulart government expected to start in Sao Paulo in about two hours. We have no confirmation. No details available at this point other than report General Mourao Filho is in command. (Mourao Filho is Commander 4th Military Region with headquarters in Juiz de Fora.)/2/

/2/ At 10 a.m., the CIA confirmed that "an anti-Goulart revolutionary movement has actually started in Minas Gerais and that Mourao Filho is leading an unspecified number of troops toward Rio de Janeiro from Juiz de Fora." ([telegram number not declassified], March 31; Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64)



196. Editorial Note

At 9:46 a.m. on March 31, 1964, Secretary of State Rusk called Assistant Secretary Mann to discuss the emerging coup d’état in Brazil: "Sec said M might want to get someone to put together task force of 3-4 to start working on post coup emergency assistance for Brazil. They discussed the confusing situation; don’t know how much is true. Sec suggested M’s calling President to keep him informed. M said he would prefer after the 11 am meeting; there would be much more to say." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls 3/20/64-4/9/64) Later that morning Rusk chaired an interagency meeting on Brazil. (Johnson Library, Rusk Appointment Book) In addition to Rusk, the participants included Secretary of Defense McNamara, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Taylor, Lieutenant General O’Meara, and Director of Central Intelligence McCone. (Message for Embassy Rio, March 31; ibid., National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64) Other scheduled attendees were Under Secretary Ball, Deputy Under Secretary Johnson, Mann, Deputy Assistant Secretary Kitchen, Special Assistant to the President Bundy, Lieutenant General Goodpaster, Assistant Secretary of Defense McNaughton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Sloan, and Deputy Director of Central Intelligence Helms. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, U. Alexis Johnson Files: Lot 90 D 408, Date Books, 1964) After briefings on the latest developments and U.S. support capabilities, the agenda called for consideration of possible military and political action, including the dispatch of a naval task force, oil tankers, and an airlift of ammunition to Brazil. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64) No substantive record of the discussion at the meeting has been found.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff met on March 31 to review a revised contingency plan for Brazil, USCINCSO Contingency Plan 2-61. Talking points for the meeting recommended that the JCS deploy a naval task force toward Brazilian waters but defer any decision on whether to provide "covert delivery of arms to the Castello Branco Group." In the event of civil war in Brazil, however, the United States should "be prepared unilaterally to deliver arms and other material support on an overt basis, employing any available means, to the faction whose victory would best serve U.S. interests." (Washington National Records Center, OASD/ISA Files: FRC 330 69 A 7425, Brazil) No substantive record of the meeting has been found.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Solomon also chaired an inter-agency task force on March 31, which met to consider economic assistance to Brazil, on the assumption that a "democratically-inclined pro-Western group" came to power. The task force recommended that the "most effective form of assistance" would be for creditor nations to participate in a voluntary, 3-month moratorium on payment toward Brazil’s debt. (Memorandum from Weismann to Burton, March 31; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/BR Files: Lot 66 D 418, AID, 1964) The Department forwarded the "preliminary views" of the task force to the Embassy for further comment. (Telegram 1316 to Rio de Janeiro, April 1; ibid., Central Files 1964-66, FN 14 BRAZ)


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

Rio de Janeiro, March 31, 1964, 1 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ. Top Secret; Nodis; Flash. Received in the Department at 12:21 p.m. and repeated at 6:23 p.m. to the White House for Bundy, OSD for McNamara, and CIA for McCone only. (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64)

2125. For Secretary from Ambassador. Deptel 1296./2/

/2/ Document 194.

1. I warmly welcome reftel. Things moving very quickly with apparently reliable reports military movements in Minas Gerais fully backed by Governor Magalhaes Pinto and state police. As of noon, no clear indications corresponding action Sao Paulo or other states.

2. I have taken action to get to key governors’ message on vital importance color of legitimacy, stressing desirability political coverage by majority Congress if that humanly possible. My intermediaries are inquiring how governors’ group proposes handle critical question mantle of legitimacy and position as defenders of constitution, both in immediate and in subsequent actions, if congressional coverage not available./3/

/3/ Gordon’s instructions are in telegrams 96 to Belo Horizonte, 235 to Brasilia, and 101 to Sao Paulo. (All March 31; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ)

3. Most urgent logistical problem is motor and aviation gasoline in event normal supplies become unavailable to friendly forces. Local Esso contact states only Avgas tanker en route is Petrobras vessel, and he knows of no Mogas in South Atlantic. Immediate action set this in motion is in order. We are developing recommendations on possible arms and ammunition requirements.

4. Goulart’s Monday night speech to sergeants,/4/ which was ending when you telephoned, looks like last straw. He made appropriate verbal bows to constitution and legality, to church, and to green and yellow nationalism rather than red models, but this was transparent disguise for active support of subversion in NCO’s and psychological warfare against officer corps, as well as Congress, press, and foreign and domestic business groups. While dictating this, I received reliable report that Kubitschek phoned Goulart this morning to declare his open opposition and has so stated to press./5/

/4/ March 30; an account of the speech was transmitted in telegram 2120 from Rio de Janeiro, March 31. (Ibid., POL 23-8 BRAZ)

/5/ See footnote 2, Document 203.

5. After deducting sixty-four dollars from my pay, my present judgment is that this might not be last opportunity, but well might be last good opportunity to support action by anti-Goulart group which still occupies large proportion strategic military commands and direction state-level forces in cohesive region states accounting for over half population and all industry. I believe your major decision should be in affirmative and will be preparing recommend means giving resistance forces additional impetus.

6. Your background briefing statement supplementing House Committee Report was very well played here in press and serves immediate purpose desired by my recommendations for some public expression interest and concern./6/

/6/ Mann told Rusk earlier that the Brazilian Chargé d’Affaires had complained about the press reports, predicting that he would receive "protest instructions." Mann asked how the press spokesman should handle the incident at the noon briefing and "it was agreed he should say in view of the situation we are making no official comment and are following the situation closely. Sec said if Linc thinks we cannot get away with that, we will take another look. They agreed we should play for time; maybe tomorrow we could talk." (Mann to Rusk, March 31, 11:20 a.m.; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls 3/20/64-4/9/64)


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

Washington, March 31, 1964, 2:29 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ. Secret; Flash; No Distribution. Drafted by Adams and approved by Ball. The Department later informed Gordon of several corrections to the telegram; they are in footnotes below. (Telegram 1305 to Rio de Janeiro, March 31; ibid.) The JCS instructions implementing the decisions outlined in the telegram, which were also in accordance with USCINCSO Contingency Plan 2-61, are ibid. The JCS assigned the code name "Brother Sam" to the operation. (Telegram 5591 from JCS to CINCLANT, March 31; ibid.)

1301. For your personal information only, the following decisions have been taken in order be in a position to render assistance at appropriate time to anti-Goulart forces if it is decided this should be done.

1. Dispatch of US Navy tankers bearing POL from Aruba, first tanker expected off Santos between April 8 and 13; following three tankers at one day intervals./2/

/2/ In telegram 1305 this sentence was replaced as follows: "Dispatch of U.S. Navy tankers bearing POL from Aruba, first tanker expected off Santos April 13; following three tankers at one day intervals."

2. Immediate dispatch of naval task force for overt exercises off Brazil. Force to consist of aircraft carrier (expected arrive in area by April 10), four destroyers, two destroyer escorts, task force tankers (all expected arrive about four days later)./3/

/3/ The sentence was replaced as follows: "Force to consist of aircraft carrier and two guided missile destroyers (expected arrive in area by April 10), four destroyers, task force tankers (all expected arrive about four days later)."

3. Assemble shipment of about 110 tons ammunition, other light equipment including tear gas/4/ for mob control for air lift to Sao Paulo (Campinas). Lift would be made within 24 to 36 hours upon issuance final orders and would involve 10 cargo planes,/5/ 6 tankers, and 6 fighters.

/4/ The words "tear gas" were replaced with the phrase "CS agent".

/5/ "10 cargo planes" was corrected to read "6 cargo planes".

Unloading of POL by US Navy tankers (item 1) and dispatch of airlift (item 3) would require further development politico-military situation to point where some group having reasonable claim to legitimacy could formally request recognition and aid from us and if possible from other American Republics. Dispatch of tankers from Aruba and of naval task force does not immediately involve us in Brazilian situation and is regarded by us as normal naval exercise.



199. Telephone Conversation Among the Under Secretary of State (Ball), the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Mann), and President Johnson/1/

March 31, 1964, 3:38 p.m.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation among President Johnson, Ball and Mann, Tape F64.21, Side B, PNO 3. No classification marking. Ball and Mann were in Washington; the President was in Texas. This transcript was prepared in the Office of the Historian specifically for this volume. Before telephoning the President, Ball called Rusk: "B said he and Mann were thinking of calling the President and wondered if the Sec had. Sec had not. Sec asked if there was anything new after the call to Rio. B said not much; it is quite fluid, indefinite; Minas seems to be in revolt. Sec asked if Linc were playing it carefully. B mentioned the cable that went out." (March 31, 3:31 p.m., National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls 3/20/64-4/9/64) Ball’s account of both conversations is in the Johnson Library, Papers of George W. Ball, Brazil, 3/30/64-4/21/66.

President: Hello?

Ball: Hello? Oh, Mr. President, this is George Ball.

President: Yes, George.

Ball: Tom Mann is on with me.

President: Hi, Tom.

Mann: Hi.

Ball: A quick run-down of the situation in Brazil. We had a meeting this morning with Bob McNamara and Max Taylor and General O’Meara, who’s come up overnight. And we decided, on the basis of the information that had come in this morning, to go ahead and start a naval task force out but with no commitment so that it will be steaming down in that direction. It couldn’t get into the area before April 10th and in the meantime we can watch the developments and see whether it should go on or not. But it could be done in a way that doesn’t create any kind of public stir. The second thing is: I’ve located some navy tankers in Aruba, and the big thing that they’re going to need if they have a successful revolt down there, at some point probably, is some gasoline, both for motor vehicles and for the aviation. The tankers are going to be loaded, but again they can’t be down there till around April the 8th to the 13th. But this is a precautionary move that we’re taking. Third is: they’re getting together a shipment of ammunition, but this will have to wait before we start moving it because it will probably have to be moved by plane and that can only be done after the situation is clarified and we would, clearly decide to make a commitment in the situation. Now, what is actually happening on the field is very confused. We’ve just had a teletype conversation with Linc Gordon in Rio./2/ It seems clear that the state just north of Rio, which is Minas Gerais, is in revolt. Both the army and the civilian authorities of the state seem to be acting together and the army has apparently moved in and authorities blocked the road from Rio so that the First Army in Rio couldn’t move up and stop the revolt. We’re waiting for some clarification of the situation in Sao Paulo, which is the key to the matter. There has apparently been no movement in Sao Paulo but there is some expected at almost any moment and we should know within the next few hours what’s happening. The hope there would be that the Second Army would move and block the road from Rio down and isolate Rio. And in the meantime they have drafted an impeachment, in Congressional circles, of Goulart, but there has been no action taken on it. But they’ve listed all the offenses against the constitution which they allege. And there is a lot of bickering around to see what could be done presumably in the way of forming some kind of a rump civilian government which would have a claim to legitimacy. The anti-Goulart government-governors are apparently going to meet Wednesday/3/ and, on the basis of the information that Gordon has, there is a significant number of the governors who are prepared to move against Goulart, about 9 of them altogether, which is a very impressive number.

/2/ The text of the teletype conversation (2:30 p.m.) is ibid., National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64.

/3/ April 1.

President: How many do they have?

Ball: The total number of states there is about, how many altogether? Nineteen.

President: Twenty?

Ball: No, 21 they tell me, but these are the big ones, these are the important states. Now, we have instructed Gordon not to make any more contact with the Brazilians until we see how the situation develops. I think there has to be some more movement in Sao Paulo to make sure that this thing is going to move, since we don’t want to get ourselves committed before we know how the thing is going to come out. He feels that on the basis of the momentum that’s been started so far that it can wait for 12 hours before anything has to be, or overnight, before we have to take any decision on whether we should or shouldn’t move. And I think that we can see the developments and then make a judgment on it. I gather you’re planning on coming back [unintelligible] tonight.

President: Yeah, I’ll be in there about 8:30.

Ball: Right. We may have another meeting this afternoon with McNamara,/4/ but in any event we’ll be changing the information, but I did want you to know that-

/4/ In a telephone conversation at 4 p.m., Ball briefed McNamara on the situation in Brazil. The two men agreed that "nothing further could be gained at this time so the 5:00 meeting scheduled for today was canceled." (Johnson Library, Papers of George W. Ball, Brazil, 3/30/64-4/21/66) Rusk held a meeting on Brazil at 5 p.m. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, U. Alexis Johnson Files: Lot 90 D 408, Date Books, 1964) No substantive record of the meeting has been found.

President: I think we ought to take every step that we can, be prepared to do everything that we need to do, just as we were in Panama, if that is at all feasible.

Ball: Right. Thank you, Mr. President. We’re canvassing all the possibilities to make sure we’re not-

President: I’d put everybody that had any imagination or ingenuity in Gordon’s outfit, or McCone’s, or you all’s, or McNamara’s, and we just can’t take this one, and I’d get right on top of it, and stick my neck out a little.

Ball: Right.

Mann: Well, we’re doing that.

Ball: Well, this is just our own feeling about it, and we’ve gotten this well organized I think now, I wanted you to know-/5/

/5/ Bundy called Ball at 6:40 p.m. to explain that "the President would prefer to be brought up to date on the Brazil situation in the morning unless there was some reason for a meeting tonight." (Johnson Library, Papers of George W. Ball, Brazil, 3/30/64-4/21/66) In a March 31 memorandum to the President, Bundy and Dungan reported that they would be kept informed by the Situation Room and would notify the President of any developments. (Ibid., National Security File, Memos to the President, McGeorge Bundy, Vol. I)

President: All right. [Omitted here is a short discussion of Panama.]


200. Memorandum From the Special Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Boster) to the Special Assistant to the Secretary of State (Little)/1/

Washington, April 1, 1964.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, ARA/LA Files: Lot 66 D 65, Brazil 1964. Confidential. Drafted by Boster. Copies were sent to Manning, Adams, Burton, and S/S. The memorandum indicates that Rusk saw it.


In two conversations last night and this morning with U.S. correspondent Jules DuBois, the anti-Goulart Governor of Guanabara, Carlos Lacerda, asked that word be gotten to Mr. Mann "that it was extremely important for the U.S. not to interfere by making any statement whatsoever."

Mr. Mann has asked that you convey this message to the Secretary and suggests that, if he agrees, you might also convey this to the White House. Mr. Mann agrees that it is extremely important that we (the U.S. Government) stay in the background and not make any statements that might damage the forces friendly to us in Brazil.


201. Teleconference Between the Department of State and the Embassy in Brazil/1/

April 1, 1964, 1500Z.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64. Secret; Exdis. According to Rusk’s Appointment Book, Rusk met Ball and U. Alexis Johnson at 10 a.m. for the teleconference to Rio. (Ibid.)

Sec 1

Ball, Adams and Burton will be at 1500Z teleconference here. Same rules as yesterday./2/ All messages considered Secret and Exdis.

/2/ The Department stated the rules as follows: "During telecon request you number conference items sequentially preceded by geographic indicator 'Rio'. Dept will number sequentially preceded by 'Sec'." (Telegram 1299 to Rio de Janeiro, March 31; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 2 BRAZ)

Sec 2

Secretary also present this end.

Sec 3

Secretary requests brief situation report as of this hour.

Sec 4

A. Briefly, what is situation at this hour?

B. What is present attitude first army?

C. Where is Kubitschek at present? Did you meet with him last night?

D. Will the momentum continue on the anti-Goulart side without some covert or overt encouragement from our side?

Sec 5

Any signs of hostility toward American personnel?

Sec 6

Are fourth army and Rio Grande do Sul supporting Goulart?

Sec 7

On our Sec 6 change "fourth army" to "third army."

Sec 8

Have any leaders of rebellion pressed you for overt support? Would overt indication our support play into Goulart’s hands at this moment?

Sec 9

We have nothing further here. Do you have anything further?

Sec 10

If you have nothing further we terminate conference. Thanks very much.


Ambassador Gordon, Minister Mein, Mr. Gresham present.

This is Ambassador Gordon.

Rio 1

Hard news is that Kruel and second army as well as Alves Bastos and fourth army in Pernambuco have declared for rebellion. Fourth army has taken over Governor’s palace in Recife.

Favorable rumors include:

A. Second army past Rezende on border Sao Paulo state of Rio and moving toward this city. Expected arrive some time this late afternoon.

B. Possible joining of rebellion by first army forces sent toward Minas last night.

[C.] Stories inside Agencia Nacional that high command officer corps resolved not to fight rebellion.

D. Refusal Gen Oromar Osorio of Vila Militar to permit marines to arrest Lacerda who still barricaded in Guanabara Palace.

Unfavorable rumors are:

A. That Brizola forces have occupied all Rio Grande do Sul radio stations.

B. That third army in far south loyal to Goulart and moving north against Sao Paulo.

Congress awaiting military resolution of events and appears disposed legitimize whatever emerges.

Navy friends tell us of effort to get three destroyers and submarine out of Guanabara Bay. Not yet successful. If successful may need diesel fuel for sub.

CGT has called general strike on nationwide basis but without visible effects in Sao Paulo. This ends Rio 1.

Rio 2.

Garble above refers to report from navy friends that they trying to send three destroyers and one submarine out of Guanabara Bay.

Above replies to Sec 3. On Sec 4 para B has been very hard get intelligence on first army. Ministry of War completely shut off from access and surrounded by tanks and armored cars. Agencia Nacional rumors reported above purport to come from inside phone messages but we unable confirm at this time.

I met Kubitschek at 2115 and drafted message which apparently not sent during last night’s confusion. Essence was much less complacency re outcome than yesterday morning/3/ and wonderment that Sao Paulo had not yet moved. This now overtaken by events with Kruel and Adhemar statements and actual move by second army. Kubitschek said that move from Sao Paulo would be critical to success and if rebellion smothered Goulart would be on high road to dictatorship.

/3/ In a conversation with James Minotto, staff member to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Kubitschek said that "for practical purposes situation all over. There was going to be successful coup against Goulart, resistance to which would be general strike lasting two or three days. Workers, however, would go back to work when they got hungry." Kubitschek also reported that he told Goulart that "he was breaking with him since President following course which would lead to turning country over to Communists." (Telegram 2126 from Rio de Janeiro, March 31; ibid., POL 23-9 BRAZ)

We discussed legitimacy problem which he thought would be readily cared for by Congress if military balance favorable. He had seen Goulart in midafternoon and pleaded with latter to save mandate by making clean break with CGT and Communists but Goulart said this would be sign of weakness which he could not afford.

Momentum now clearly gathered and for these hours does not need special encouragement from US.

Have just learned that Kubitschek conversation report was sent last night as Embtel 2134./4/

/4/ Dated April 1. (Ibid.)

Flash [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] has just received report from usually reliable source that General Jair has sent note to Goulart saying he is breaking with him and will urge army troops loyal to him, Jair, to unite and join forces with Kruel. If this is true it should have profoundly favorable influence on outcome.

Re Sec 5 there are no such signs of hostility.

Re Sec 6 we have only unfavorable rumor re third army reported above.

Sec 7 is last received from you. This ends Rio 2.

Rio 3

Except for Adhemar and some of his fellow Paulistas who continue talking unclearly about arms needs and possible desirability of show of naval force there has been no pressing for overt support. I do not consider Paulista approaches as serious or responsible. At this moment overt indication our support would be a serious political error which would play into Goulart’s hands. We shall of course continue focussing on this question hourly as situation evolves. This ends Rio 3.

Rio 4

Sec 8 received and answered by Rio 3. This ends Rio 4.

Rio 5

Nothing more now. This terminates teleconference.


202. Memorandum for the Record/1/

Washington, April 1, 1964, 11:15 a.m.

/1/ Source: National Security Council, 303 Committee Files, Subject Files, Brazil. Secret. Drafted by FitzGerald. The time of the meeting is taken from the President’s Daily Diary. (Johnson Library) FitzGerald also drafted a longer version of the memorandum, which included the discussion of Panama and Cuba. (Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, Job 80-B01285A, Meetings with the President, 1 Jan-30 Apr 64)

Meeting at the White House 1 April 1964

The President
State Department: Secretary Rusk, Under Secretary Ball, Deputy Under Secretary Johnson, and Mr. Ralph Burton
Defense Department: Secretary McNamara, Deputy Secretary Vance, General Taylor and General O’Meara
White House Staff: Messrs. Bundy, Dungan, Moyers, and Reedy
CIA: The Director, Colonel King and Mr. FitzGerald

1. The meeting commenced with a briefing on the latest intelligence reports by Colonel King including items from the 10 o’clock telecon between State and Ambassador Gordon./2/ Matters seemed to be more favorable to the insurgents than they had been the previous evening, particularly in view of indications that General Kruel is moving Second Army troops to the Sao Paulo border.

/2/ Document 201.

2. Secretary Rusk said that Ambassador Gordon was not advocating U.S. support at this time. Only the Paulistas had requested such aid and this without definition. Ambassador Gordon, with whom the Secretary agreed, believes that it would be wrong at this stage to give Goulart an anti-Yankee banner.

3. Secretary Rusk referred to a "leak" the evening before regarding the movement of a Naval task force to the area of northern Brazil. (General Taylor said that there was not actually a leak but that it appeared to be a deduction by newsmen based on knowledge that a special meeting of the Joint Chiefs took place.) It was agreed that newspaper queries concerning the Naval movement would be treated routinely and that it would not be shown as a contingency move having to do with Brazil.

4. Secretary Rusk commented that the reporting from Brazil was excellent and endorsed the statement of facts presented by Colonel King.

5. Secretary McNamara reported on the status of the task force. It sailed this morning and would be in the vicinity of Santos by the 11th of April. The arms and ammunition are now being assembled for airlift in New Jersey and the airlift would take 16 hours from the time of decision. As to POL, the earliest Navy tanker, diverted from the Aruba area, would be in place on the 10th or 11th of April. There is, however, a Norwegian tanker chartered by Esso in the South Atlantic loaded with the necessary motor and aviation gasoline. It is headed for Buenos Aires and should arrive there on the 5th or 6th of April. It was decided that [3 lines of source text not declassified]. This should be done as soon as possible.

(Messrs. Bundy and Dungan, following the meeting, said that they had taken exception to the Navy’s order to its task force which had placed the movement clearly within the contingency plan for Brazil. They felt that this was an unnecessary security hazard.)

Deputy Chief, WH (Special Affairs)


203. Teleconference Between the Department of State and the Embassy in Brazil/1/

April 1, 1964, 2030Z.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64. Secret; Exdis. A handwritten note indicates that "Ball gave essence of this to the President by phone." According to the President’s Daily Diary, Ball called Johnson at 3:52 p.m. (Johnson Library) No substantive record of the conversation has been found. Ball briefed the Secretary at 3:53 p.m.: "B said Gordon thinks it is all over. B reported on his talk with Rio. Sec said we should look into the question of recognition; perhaps if Mazzilli succeeds, there is no question. B will get Chayes working on it. B said we were still working on getting POL down there, since we could not be sure of the situation." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls 3/20/64-4/9/64)

For Ambassador.

Our request for teleconference at 2030Z today grows out of decision at White House this morning that we have regular daily teleconferences with you in view of high value placed on information obtained by this means previously.

If impossible for you to be present each time DCM entirely satisfactory. Ordinarily DOD and CIA representatives will also be present this end with Ball, or U A Johnson and Mann.

Suggest 1500Z, 1900Z and 2300Z for times of teleconference tomorrow.

Suggest you send telecon message in advance each teleconference to be available at start of conference here with situation report covering any significant developments under following headings referred to by number and letter.

1. Military Situation

(A) Developments in each of four armies
(B) Action by air force or navy
(C) Shifts in allegiance of key military forces or officers
(D) Possible or actual independent moves by non-coms or enlisted
(E) Other

2. Logistic Situation

(A) Adequacy of POL, armaments, ammo, other military supplies
(B) Need for US logistic support action
(C) Other

Sec 1


Treat all messages Secret and Exdis.

Conferees here are UA Johnson, Adams, McNaughton (DOD) and Col. King (CIA). Who is at your end and did you get our advance?

Sec 2

Your 2147 and Brasilia 133 received./2/ Do you have anything further on Goulart resignation?

/2/ Telegram 2147 from Rio de Janeiro, April 1, forwarded unconfirmed reports that Goulart had resigned. (Ibid., Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 BRAZ) Telegram 133 from Brasilia, April 1, reported that Goulart had evidently flown to Brasilia to "confer with congressional leaders." (Ibid., POL 23-9 BRAZ)

End Sec 2.

Sec 3

Undersecretary Ball now present.

End Sec 3.

Sec 4

Re POL Norwegian tanker Finnanger under Esso charter carrying Avgas and Mogas en route Buenos Aires will be off Santos on or about 7 April. If diversion required instructions must be given 6 April.

There is also Tidewater ship J Paul Getty carrying 500,000 barrels bunker fuel scheduled arrive Rio 5 April. Another Tidewater vessel carrying same amount bunker fuel due arrive Santos 9 April.

Re para 1 JANAF msg J-9/3/ we perceive no way get diesel fuel off Rio until arrival MSTS tankers 13 April.

/3/ Dated April 1. (Ibid.)

End Sec 4.

Sec 5

Re last sentence Rio 1, we have a special task force here now at work several days on economic and financial assistance, emergency relief, etc. and are prepared promptly to act on your recommendations.

End Sec 5.

Sec 6

Nothing further here now. Would appreciate flash wrap-up report tonight about four hours from now. Would be prepared gather for another telecon tonight if you consider desirable. Otherwise will telecon with you at 1500Z tomorrow.

Will reply Rio 6 by cable tonight.

CCN line 1 wrap-up.

End Sec 6

This is Ambassador Gordon.

Rio 1

We believe it is all over with democratic rebellion already 95 percent successful. First army solidly in favor and at 1640 Gen Ancora/4/ ordered cessation military action against rebels. Ancora and Kruel meeting at 1800 in Rezende. First army command to be assumed by Gen Costa e Silva, strongly democratic. Still awaiting formal announcement but we believe Goulart has already or is just about to resign. Mazzilli would then take over on interim basis as provided in constitution. Castello Branco states no need US logistical support. Radio stations in Rio all now in friendly hands state Goulart has resigned but Brigadeiro Mello/5/ of air force states this not yet true.

/4/ Armando de Morais Âncora, former commander of the First Army, was appointed Minister of War following the resignation on April 1 of Jair Dantas Ribeiro; he was replaced the next day by Artur Costa e Silva.

/5/ Francisco de Assis Correia de Melo, Air Force Chief of Staff.

Still some concern at possible civil strife in Porto Alegre, Recife and on limited scale perhaps here too, as well as problem left leaning groups in marines and other scattered groups armed forces. Reaction labor unions still uncertain. We have begun staff work on possible needs for internal security help, financial stabilization etc. No word yet on Congressional reactions. Goulart arrived Brasilia 1430 Brasil time. This ends Rio 1.

Rio 2

Have received your Sec 1 and 2 and 3. I am accompanied here by Mein and Gresham. Have you received my Rio 1?

End Rio 2.

Rio 3

Have just received [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] indicating that Goulart may be planning to stay in Brasilia and look for some kind of compromise political solution. My first reaction is that this would be most difficult to achieve, given momentum of anti-Goulart movement.

Regarding your advance message, some of it is obsolete but we can meet teleconference times suggested and will also be guided by your format in wrap-up report tonight.

This ends Rio [3].

Rio 4

Sec 4 recd. Possibility Petrobras sabotage cannot yet be wholly discounted and we should keep these tankers coming until situation clarified. End Rio 4.

Rio 5

Do you have any other questions for us now? End Rio 5.

Rio 6

Sec 5 is good news. Would appreciate summary your thinking these points. End Rio 6.

Rio 7

We have nothing further now. If you do not, should we terminate? End Rio 7.

Rio 8

Sec 6 recd. Will act accordingly. Presently doubt need for further telecon tonight but will give advance warning if desired. Confirm 1500Z tomorrow. End Rio 8./6/

/6/ Bundy called the President at 4:30 p.m., explaining that, in light of Gordon’s report, it would not be necessary to reconvene that day to discuss Brazil. Johnson agreed to schedule a meeting of the National Security Council for the following morning. (Johnson Library, Recordings and Transcripts, Recording of telephone conversation between President Johnson and Bundy, April 1, 1964, 4:30 p.m., Tape F64.22, Side A, PNO 3) Bundy later explained to Rusk that the NSC meeting, although "more for show than for use," would allow the participants to "wrap up on Brazil." (April 1, 6:37 p.m.; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls 3/20/64-4/9/64)


204. Editorial Note

On April 2, 1964 (12:25 a.m. EST), the Embassy Office in Brasilia reported that President Goulart had left Brasilia by airplane. Although he might land first in Porto Alegre, reliable congressional sources indicated that Goulart was flying to Montevideo. Meanwhile a special joint session of Congress was meeting to declare that Goulart had fled the country, that the presidency was vacant, and that Paschoal Ranieri Mazzilli, formerly President of the Chamber of Deputies, was now Acting President of Brazil. (Telegram 137 from Brasilia; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 BRAZ) At 3:05 a.m. EST, the Embassy Office reported that the President of the Senate, Auro de Moura Andrade, had declared that the presidency was vacant-in spite of an official statement that Goulart was merely "absent in Rio Grande do Sul." Shortly thereafter, Mazzilli took the oath of office at Planalto, the presidential palace in Brasilia. (Telegram 138 from Brasilia, April 2; ibid.)

Under Secretary of State Ball, who was monitoring the situation from Washington, described his role in subsequent events:

"At three o’clock in the morning I was down at the Department, which was normal in any crisis. Rusk was away somewhere. As I mentioned, crises always seemed to occur when I was Acting Secretary. I don’t know why. Finally, on the strong urging of our ambassador down there who was [Lincoln Gordon], I sent a telegram which had the effect of, in effect, recognizing the new government. Goulart wasn’t quite out of the country, and I was taking a chance. But it worked out beautifully and was very effective. It was the kind of thing that marked a period to the end of Mr. Goulart. But the President was furious with me, the only time he was ever really angry with me, I think. Why hadn’t I let him know? Why did I do this without letting him know? I said, ‘It was three o’clock in the morning, Mr. President.’ He said, ‘Don’t ever do that again. I don’t care what hour of the morning it is, I want to know. I’m not saying what you did wasn’t right, but after this I want to know.’ Thereafter I never hesitated." (Johnson Library, Transcript, George W. Ball Oral History Interview #2, July 9, 1971, pages 39-40; see also George W. Ball, The Past Has Another Pattern, page 429)

The telegram described by Ball has not been found.


205. Teleconference Between the Department of State and the Embassy in Brazil/1/

April 2, 1964, 1500Z.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64. Secret; Exdis.

Sec 1

Participants in Washington:

Under Secretary Geo. Ball; Deputy Under Secretary U.A. Johnson; Mr. Burton; Mr. Sloan (DOD)

Sec 2

NSC meeting here 1700Z on Brazil. Do you have statement to suggest for White House or State Department and your view as to what level we should play this. We do not want to tie President on prematurely.

End Sec 2.

Sec 3

MAP civic action and military spare parts cargoes are on ships Del Sud arriving Rio 8 April, Del Mundo arriving Recife 3 April, Mormon Hawk arriving Rio 10 April and Del Sol arriving Recife 13 April. Will presume you have no objection to cargo being landed unless you advise otherwise.

End Sec 3.

Sec 4

Who likely to be FinMin in Mazzilli government? What will be chances for a serious effort to put financial affairs in order during next 30 days of political campaigning?

End Sec 4.

Sec 5.

What is your assessment of Mazzilli? Is he apt to stand for election at end of constitutional 30 day period? Who are other likely contenders for presidency?

End Sec 5.

Sec 6

Since Naval task force will not be approaching northern Brazilian waters until April 4 we are not now planning to take any action turn it back for another 24 hours unless you think otherwise.

End Sec 6.

Sec 7

Share your concern that Mazzilli election be fully constitutional and approve action you have taken. We can avoid statement here until you think it desirable in light situation there. However, would appreciate soonest your draft for message from the President to Mazzilli for despatch at such time as you recommend. If you believe that additional White House or Department statement would be desirable I would also appreciate your recommendations on text.

End Sec 7.

Sec 8

Four Navy tankers in loading and movement process. Schedule of arrivals in Santos area and description of loading on each ship will be sent you immediately. We concur they should continue. Will advise further on recall of Task Force.

End Sec 8.

Sec 9

We have nothing further here. Do you?

Please be sure to have sitrep sent to us 30 minutes in advance of 1900Z telecon, since Ball and others will be briefing Senate Foreign Relations Committee at 2000Z.

All messages in telecon should be considered Secret and Exdis.

End Sec 9.

Sec 10

Ref Rio 7.

Yes we will work out wider distribution here.

All right to send sitrep by telegram for wider distribution provided no reference made therein to covert operations or US military activities.

End Sec 10.

[Omitted here is text of Situation Report as of 1100 hours.]

Rio 2

This is Ambassador Gordon. I am troubled about questionable juridical situation surrounding early morning installation of Mazzilli as Acting President. Declaration by Congress and Senate President Moura Andrade that presidency vacant was not backed by congressional vote. Supreme Court President did preside over swearing in of Mazzilli but it was not backed by Supreme Court vote. If Goulart leaves Brazil without permission from Congress he automatically forfeits office under Article 85 of Constitution. In absence of that, however, I believe it most desirable that Congress legitimize situation by some sort of vote and that this be done before Pres Johnson send any telegram to Mazzilli.

I have so advised Dean in Brasilia and he is seeking out various congressional leaders in order impress on them importance from international viewpoint of clear congressional legitimation. Will report results as soon as available.

New subject is Navy Task Force described Deptels 1301 and 1305./2/ I believe this should now be recalled with avoidance any showing in Brazilian waters or public information of its having been despatched. Navy tankers on other hand should be kept heading this way until oil supply situation clarified. If Brizola led resistance movement in RGS/3/ does not evaporate, POL may be needed there. Also morning radio reports indicate that large Duque de Caxias refinery here still under Commie control and they preventing operation. On other hand smaller local Manguinhas refinery apparently operating about half capacity. Sabotage danger Petrobras refineries cannot yet be discounted. Please inform types and quantities POL contained Navy tankers referred para 1 Deptel 1301. This ends Rio 2.

/2/ Document 198 and footnote 2 thereto.

/3/ Rio Grande do Sul.

Rio 3

Sitrep was sent as advance material and supplemented by my

Rio 1.

Did you receive this? We would like brief time to reflect on question White House or State Dept statement. Preferring if possible to hold off until situation in RGS and prospects congressional action referred Rio 2 are clearer. How much time can you give us before some sort of statement may be unavoidable? [End Rio 3.]

Rio 4

ARMA just returned from seeing Castello Branco who reports whole country quiet except Porto Alegre. There Brizola still in control having claimed deposition of Meneghetti. Army troops from STA Maria, RGS Parana and STA Catarina are moving on Porto Alegre. Gen Joao Costa COMDR parachute unit was with Castello Branco planning airborne attack if necessary. Navy units going to lagoon and Guaiba estuary to complete action against Porto Alegre. Goulart still there as is Assis Brasil./4/ Fico gave up in Brasilia and some arrests being made.

/4/ Reference is to Argemiro Assis Brasil, Chief of the Casa Militar; General Nicolau Fico, Army Commander in Brasilia; Admiral Cândida Aragão, Commander of the Marines; Brigadier Francisco Teixeira, Commander of the Third Air Zone; Abelardo Jurema, Minister of Justice; and Osvino Ferreira Alves, President of Petrobras.

Chief of Cabinet to War Minister Costa e Silva is very pro US Brig Gen Siseno Sarmento.

Castello Branco states ADM Aragao is not under arrest, contrary previous reports, but is being sought. Brig Teixeira likewise. Jurema is confirmed as under arrest.

Further on petroleum. Osvino Alves is reported under arrest this morning. Supply situation could become serious or critical within three or four days since Petrobras supplies have been sharply reduced in last ten days. Rationing in Sao Paulo with service stations held to 30 percent of normal supplies. Belo Horizonte stocks requisitioned for military use. Confusion Petrobras and Fronape their tanker organization. Oil company representatives have been summoned to Navy Ministry for meeting at 1400 local time. [End Rio 4.]

Rio 5

Reply to Sec 3 is that we have no objection to landings in Rio and Recife.

Reply to Sec 4 not yet known or indicated. My purely personal hunch is that leading Paulista banker such as Gastao Vidigal would be good prospect. Any new FinMin obviously faces gravest problems but we cannot yet see political situation sufficiently clearly to answer second question.

Reply to Sec 5 is that Mazzilli is man of clearly moderate orientation and skillful legislative tactician but unlikely have great executive force or vigorous policy ideas. Policies would have to come from cabinet members. He is likely to look to capable and highly respected names for cabinet.

Reply to Sec 6 was given in Rio 2. We believe Task Force but not tankers should be recalled soonest.

This ends Rio 5.

Rio 6

Will send draft message President Johnson to Mazzilli this afternoon. Also other drafts if indicated. Will also send sitrep in ample time for 1990Z teleconference. On handling of our sitreps do you want us to send appropriate material as regular telegrams for wider Washington distribution or can you arrange that for us? This ends Rio 6.

Rio 7

On last point above it would help us if you could handle wider Washington distribution of necessary material since we feel heavily loaded here. This ends Rio 7./5/

/5/ Ball briefed the President on the situation in Brazil at 10:40 a.m. After reviewing the teleconference with Gordon, Ball explained "that we will probably not have a recognition problem because this will be the same government and this will avoid the recognition of a new government. We will treat this government as a continuation of the old one." (Johnson Library, Papers of George W. Ball, Brazil, 3/30/64-4/21/66)


206. Summary Record of the 525th Meeting of the National Security Council/1/

Washington, April 2, 1964, noon.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings File, Vol. I, Tab 6, 4/2/64, US Policy Toward Brazil. Secret. Drafted by Bromley Smith.

U.S. Policy Toward Brazil and Other General Topics

CIA Director McCone gave a briefing from prepared notes/2/ on the following items:

/2/ McCone’s record of the meeting, including the notes for his briefing on Brazil, is in the Central Intelligence Agency, DCI (McCone) Files, Job 80-B01285A, Meetings with President Johnson.

[Omitted here is discussion of unrelated items.]

e. Brazil-Colonel King was asked to review the latest information from Brazil. Most of his facts came from a teleconference between the State Department and Ambassador Gordon in Rio (copy attached)./3/ He reported that Goulart and his brother-in-law, Brizola, had left Rio for Porto Alegre. Military resistance has ended everywhere except in Porto Alegre, where there may be fighting later if Goulart’s supporters choose to resist Brazilian forces now moving on the city. Secretary Ball reported that last night’s action by a minority of the Members of the Brazilian Congress who declared the office of the Presidency vacant and named the President of the Congress, Mazzilli, as President was of doubtful legality. This doubt will remain as long as Goulart is in Brazil or until he formally resigns. The Brazilian Constitution contains no provision to oust a President. While we do not wish to cast doubt on the legitimacy of Mazzilli as President, we do not wish formally to accept a government which the Brazilian courts may later decide is illegal. Mazzilli can hold office for thirty days during which time the Congress elects a President to hold office until the national election scheduled for 1965.

/3/ Document 205.

The President pointed out that Mazzilli was not in a very strong position if only 150 out of over 450 Congressmen voted him into office. Under Secretary Ball replied that while it was true that a minority of Congressmen had acted to put Mazzilli in office, the legal situation would be improved as soon as Goulart resigned or went into exile.

The President asked whether there were any pockets of resistance remaining. General Wheeler said that Goulart has relatively little military force loyal to him. One regiment and possibly a cavalry unit have not yet given up to the rebels.

The President asked what happens next. General Wheeler replied that the Brazilian army would move on the pockets of resistance and clear them out. He indicated that the Second Army would move into Porto Alegre to overcome any units still supporting Goulart.

Secretary Rusk commented that it was more important to the Brazilians than to us to achieve a legitimate transfer of power. The domestic situation in Brazil would be improved if a new government could be legitimized quickly.

The President asked why the Congress shouldn’t meet to make Mazzilli the legal President pro tem. Secretary Rusk replied that Ambassador Gordon was using the resources available to him to encourage Brazilian legislators to do just this. Under Secretary Ball noted that there would be no problem of U.S. recognition of the new government because we would merely continue our relations with the President.

Secretary Rusk said that all we could do today would be to sit and wait. He said that the U.S. Navy task force proceeding toward Brazil should continue until we receive further information from Brazil.

Secretary McNamara recommended that the task force continue southward. It is now near Antigua and can be turned around tomorrow if the situation continues to improve. It will still be a long way from Brazil./4/

/4/ In a telephone conversation the next morning, McNamara and Rusk agreed that it was time to "turn that task force around." McNamara said that he would do so "after talking to the President." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls 3/20/64-4/9/64) The JCS issued the instructions recalling the task force at 11:30 a.m. (Telegram 5644 from JCS to CINCLANT, April 3; ibid., Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ)

[Omitted here is discussion of unrelated items.]

The President asked what we were doing in Cuba to make it "just a nuisance." Following the laughter, Secretary Rusk commented that if Brazil turned out the way it appears to be going, there would be a beneficial effect on the Cuban problem and on the political situation in Chile.

Bromley Smith/5/

/5/ Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


207. Editorial Note

In a teleconference on April 2, 1964 (4 p.m. EST), Ambassador Gordon reported that Army Chief of Staff Castello Branco had just confirmed that "democratic forces" were in full control of Rio Grande do Sul, thereby eliminating the last pocket of military resistance. When a radio station announced shortly thereafter that former President Goulart had arrived in Montevideo, Gordon relayed the news with the salutation: "Cheers!" (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64) At 5 p.m. EST, the Embassy reported that Congress was not interested in a formal vote transferring power to the new government, preferring a fait accompli to "new juridical arguments." The Embassy therefore recommended "proceeding forthwith with dignified LBJ public telegram" of congratulations to Acting President Mazzilli. (Telegram 2162 from Rio de Janeiro, April 2; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ) Gordon reiterated this recommendation in a teleconference at 6 p.m., "despite continued uncertainty whereabouts Goulart." After discussion among Secretary Rusk, Under Secretary Ball, and Deputy Under Secretary Johnson, the Department gave its tentative approval: "If you are satisfied that message from President Johnson to Mazzilli would not be premature and would not be interpreted as interference in internal affairs we are prepared to recommend to the President its prompt issuance this evening." Gordon replied: "Since country now completely pacified and in hands democratic forces with congressional support even though no formal vote, I cannot see how message could be construed as interference. Since prospects congressional vote now seem minimal, I believe that the sooner we act the better." (Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Brazil, Vol. II, 3/64) President Johnson approved the message, which the White House released later that evening. The text of the message is in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Lyndon B. Johnson, 1963-1964, Book I, page 433.


208. Summary Record of the 526th Meeting of the National Security Council With the Congressional Leaders/1/

Washington, April 3, 1964, 2 p.m.

/1/ Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, NSC Meetings File, Vol. I, Tab 7, 4/3/64. Top Secret. Drafted by Bromley Smith. McCone also drafted a record of the meeting. (Central Intelligence Agency, Job 80-B01285A, No. 2, Memos for the Record, 1 January-5 April 1964)

Various Subjects

The President opened the meeting with the Congressional Leaders by saying that his purpose was to bring them up to date on recent developments. Various Council members would report on current situations. He first called on Secretary Rusk for a summary of developments in Brazil./2/

/2/ Shortly before the NSC meeting, Rusk called Robert Adams in ARA: "Sec asked him to put together a dozen examples of appointments that Goulart was making that looked like extremism, and 3-4 good examples of kinds of proposals G was making which seemed to undermine constitutional situation down there. Sec needed them by 1:15 for 2 pm meeting." (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Rusk Files: Lot 72 D 192, Telephone Calls 3/20/64-4/9/64)

Secretary Rusk summarized our relations with Goulart, including Goulart’s discussion with President Kennedy, and later, in Rio, his discussion with the Attorney General./3/ Despite our efforts to persuade Goulart to follow a democratic reform program, and despite our efforts to support the Brazilian economy by making large loans, Goulart had moved toward the creation of an authoritarian regime politically far to the left. The current revolt in Brazil was not the traditional "golpe" of the Latin American variety but rather a combination of governors, government officials and military leaders who had joined together to oust Goulart when they became convinced that he was leading Brazil to economic and political disaster. As to the current situation, the rebel government now has full control of the country. The military leaders in Brazil have long visualized themselves as guardians of the democratic process.

/3/ Goulart met President Kennedy during a visit to Washington, April 3-4, 1962. For documentation on the visit, including memoranda of conversation, see Foreign Relations, 1961-1963, vol. XII, Documents 223-225. Attorney General Kennedy met Goulart in Brasilia on December 17, 1962. A memorandum of conversation, transmitted in airgram A-710 from Rio de Janeiro, December 19, is in the National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1961-63, 033.1100-KE/12-1962.

Secretary Rusk described the major problems which the new government in Brazil faces. First are the economic problems which involve renegotiation of large loans coming due shortly and revision of those economic policies of Goulart which had resulted in inflation and economic difficulty. The Goulart men will have to be removed, which means a reorganization of the governmental structure. There is a reasonable prospect now that the new government will turn its attention to the major problems of Brazil. The U.S. did not engineer the revolt. It was an entirely indigenous effort. We now have fresh hope that Brazil can face up to its current problems.

Senator Dirksen asked how much money we had given in grants to Brazil. Director Bell reported that we had made very few grants but had made many large loans. Senator Dirksen then asked if there were any outstanding unpaid loans. Mr. Bell replied that we are now owed approximately $136 million in payments on loans which amount to between $500 and $700 million. Senator Dirksen asked whether Brazil had lived up to its agreement to the stabilization plan we had financed. Mr. Bell replied that we had put up $60 million when they began to implement parts of the stabilization plan. When the Brazilians did not follow through on the plan, we then stopped further assistance.

Senator Hayden asked whether it was not true that the Brazilians had an excellent record of loan repayment. Mr. Bell said no Brazilian loan was in default.

Senator Morse said he thoroughly approved of the way the President and the State Department had handled the situation in Brazil. He said we would have to provide new economic assistance to Brazil but he hoped that the time had come when we could get something for this new aid.

The President replied that we are hard at work with our allies to provide the economic help which the new Brazilian government will need. We are doing everything possible to get on top of the problem of helping the new government.

Senator Dirksen asked about the position the new government would take toward expropriation of U.S. private investments. Secretary Rusk said that we did not know, but that one of the first things we would talk to the new government about would be their attitude toward expropriating U.S. property.

Senator Fulbright asked what effect there would be in Latin America if the coffee legislation/4/ now before the Senate were rejected, as appeared probable. Secretary Rusk replied that Senate rejection of the coffee plan would be very serious for us and for the Brazilians, as well as to the Latin Americans.

/4/ Reference is to legislation allowing the United States to fulfill its obligations under the International Coffee Agreement of 1962. The bill, rejected by the House of Representatives in 1964, was eventually passed and signed into law in May 1965. (79 Stat. 112)

Senator Dirksen said he felt that if the legislation were called up now it would be defeated.

Under Secretary Ball said that we should look at the coffee agreement in the light of the new Brazilian situation. If the agreement were rejected by the Senate, the new Brazilian government would consider the action a "no confidence" vote. He said he could not stress too much the importance of Senate approval of the coffee agreement. A rejection would be no less than a disaster for the entire Alliance for Progress.

[Omitted here is discussion unrelated to Brazil.]

Bromley Smith/5/

/5/ Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.


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

Rio de Janeiro, April 7, 1964, 7 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ. Secret; Priority. Passed to the White House, CIA, JCS, OSD, CINCSO, CINCSTRIKE also for POLAD, and CINCLANT also for POLAD.

2204. Ref: Deptels 1336/2/ and 1342./3/

/2/ In telegram 1336 to Rio de Janeiro, April 6, the Department stressed the importance of preserving the "color of legitimacy" and asked the Embassy to consider what the United States could "appropriately do to influence events in this direction." (Ibid.)

/3/ In telegram 1342 to Rio de Janeiro, April 6, the Department reported that a New York Times representative had phoned to comment on recent developments, including allegations of censorship and a "rumored threat to close Congress if uncooperative on Presidential changes." The Department suggested that the Embassy use its influence to "check or slow down such developments." (Ibid.)

1. We fully agree concerns expressed reftels. Fortunately, similar feelings are shared by many influential elements in leadership of revolution, including most of the governors concerned (with possible

exception Adhemar), UDN leaders in Congress, and at least some of military.

2. I distinguish between two types of constitutional problem. Those concerning timing of congressional election of president and eligibility Castello Branco seem to me of secondary order, subject to juridical rationalization without undue distortion. Distinguished lawyers have already expressed view that Article 79/4/ (2) reference to election being held "thirty days after the last vacancy" can be construed as meaning "within thirty days," since constituent assembly would otherwise have said "on the thirtieth day".

/4/ Reference is to the Brazil constitution of 1946.

Congress is now passing a law to establish the manner of the election, which will also cover this point. As to eligibility under article 139 (I) (C), there is plausible argument that in context of nearby articles this refers only to direct popular elections and not to indirect election by Congress. As a second line of retreat in case Castello Branco, chiefs of general staff may be construed as referring only to general staff of the armed forces, and not to chiefs of staff of individual services.

3. Atmospheric noises about shutting Congress down are, I believe, only from irresponsible sources and need not be taken seriously.

4. What seems to be more serious is question public liberties and cancellation mandates extreme left-wing deputies. In this respect, there is real problem of vigorous desire on part military leadership of revolution to make quick and effective purge of Communist and other subversive extremists in public services, trade unions, and Congress. There are ten or twelve congressmen such as Brizola, Neiva Moreira, Juliao, Marco Antonio Coelho, Max da Costa Santos, Benedito Cerqueira, and Sergeant Garcia, whose active participation in efforts at violent subversion is certainly beyond doubt and should be readily subject to objective proof. Unfortunately, articles 45 and 213 are very strong protections of congressional immunities. The harder-line military are talking about revoking the mandates of up to forty left-wing congressmen, which would be grossly excessive, but even the most moderate feel it essential to revoke those of some ten to twelve. The right way to do this would be under article 48 (2), but with the PTB solidly opposing, it would be very difficult to secure a two-thirds absolute majority for this purpose. The cases of Governors Arraes and Seixas Doria appear to have been cared for through impeachment by their respective legislative assemblies. The two related problems are press censorship and holding of suspected subversives without habeas corpus.

5. On press censorship, we have pointed out through both military and civilian channels importance of not creating hostility among foreign and especially US journalists. I got a strongly helpful reaction on this from Lacerda, who at six pm instructed an aide to determine who was responsible and say he would denounce it publicly if not called off forthwith. He was on way to see Castello Branco and promised make this point strongly.

6. The military leadership has prepared a so-called "institutional act" designed to revoke parliamentary immunities, life tenure for professors and judges, and stability of tenure for civil and military public employees, and there is under debate today the question whether this should be simply issued as an executive act of the high command of the revolution or perhaps issued ad referendum by Congress. Putting a good juridical face on the former would be very difficult, but it may already be a fait accompli. We have tried to use our limited influence in the circumstances, and I stress that it is limited, to maintain the greatest possible color of legitimacy in the form of congressional sanction.

7. I took advantage of an almost accidental date with the new War Minister Monday/5/ afternoon to point out that we are happy with the results of the revolution, that we want to support the new government in every possible way, but that our ability to support depends upon domestic congressional and public opinion which is very sensitive to anything which smacks of an old-fashioned reactionary Latin American military coup. For this reason, while recognizing the need for an effective purge of true subversives, juridical appearances are highly important. Tuesday morning, I arranged to convey a similar message to Castello Branco, doing it through Colonel Walters since I felt it unwise to see Castello personally at present stage. Walters also talked with Colonel Miranda of National Security Council. I made the same points in call on Lacerda Tuesday afternoon. War Minister Costa e Silva was not very responsive. Castello Branco, who is more sophisticated and civil minded, did appear to understand it and undertook to bear it in mind. Lacerda fully acknowledged the point, which fits with his own current campaign to dampen down excesses by police and army. He felt it unlikely, however, that some form of juridically questionable institutional act could be avoided, saying it was an inevitable bridge between the revolution and the full restoration of constitutional guarantees.

/5/ April 6.

8. Department should bear in mind that Brazil had very narrow escape from Communist-dominated dictatorship and is only few days past what could have been civil war type confrontation. I see no way now of pushing this question further without over-straining our credit and producing counter-productive reactions. If other opportunities present themselves, we will make use of them./6/

/6/ Gordon raised the question of "constitutional formalities" in a meeting with Mazzilli on April 8. After expressing similar concern, Mazzilli said that he was "using all resources to secure meeting of minds between military and political forces, with conservation of constitutional forms as ‘point of honor for the country.’" (Telegram 2209 from Rio de Janeiro, April 8; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 23-9 BRAZ)



210. Transcript of Telephone Conversation Between Director of Central Intelligence McCone and John J. McCloy

April 9, 1964, 11:10 a.m.

[Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 80-B01285A, DCI (McCone) Files, Telephone Calls, Eyes Only, 3/4/64-5/19/65. No classification marking. 4 pages of source text not declassified.]


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

Rio de Janeiro, April 10, 1964, 2 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-3 BRAZ. Confidential; Immediate; Limdis. Repeated to the White House, OSD, JCS, CINCLANT, CINCSTRIKE, CIA, and CINCSO.

2235. References: Embtels 2230 and 2231./2/

/2/ Telegrams 2230 and 2231 from Rio de Janeiro, both April 10, forwarded the translated texts of the Institutional Act and its preamble. (Ibid.) The act was signed on April 9 by three military ministers: Artur Costa e Silva (Army), Francisco de Assis Correia de Melo (Air Force), and Augusto Hamann Rademaker Grünewald (Navy). Although the act "maintained" the constitution of 1946, it also suspended the legal guarantees of life-time and job tenure for 6 months and allowed the signatories to suspend the political rights of any individual for 10 years, including legislators at the federal, state, and municipal level.

1. I must confess to considerable dismay at Thursday’s/3/ course of events, leading to the promulgation last night of the institutional act as a fait accompli on the exclusive authority of the military ministers. The juridical rationalization of the revolution as containing its own inherent constituent power is a wordy statement that might makes right (or makes law). Until yesterday morning, we had understood that congressional coverage and a plausible dress of legitimate continuity would be achieved, but apparently the congressional leaders would not accept certain of the demands insisted upon by the military leadership, who in turn were pressed by some of the more radical younger officers. The latter were concerned that maneuverings by Kubitschek and PTB might prevent the removal from key power centers of many active participants in Goulart’s extreme left conspiracy. We should be able secure more details on the failure of Wednesday’s negotiation during the course of the day.

/3/ April 9.

2. Mitigating aspects of the development are that: (a) Congress not being closed, although presidency much strengthened in relation to Congress; (b) six-month time limit on suspension of certain constitutional guarantees; (c) confirmation of next year’s presidential election on dates provided by 1946 constitution; (d) limitation of application of whole institutional act to period ending January 31, 1966; and (e) conservation intact of federal system with state autonomy and constitutional arrangements.

3. Greatest hope for avoidance of undemocratic excesses rests in character and convictions of Castello Branco, who this morning appears almost certain of election, Dutra having withdrawn and Kruel possibly doing likewise. We are planning communicate to Castello by one means or another the signal importance from viewpoint foreign opinion and future collaboration of his reaffirmation devotion to democratic procedures, respect for individual liberties, and reestablishment of harmonious collaboration among the three constituted branches of government in the national interest.

4. Meanwhile we are faced with difficult problem USG public stance over coming few days. We take as basic premise the absolute necessity that the new government succeed both politically and economically. They will need our cordial and generous support to do so. At same time, we do not see how we can pretend to approve of way in which institutional act was issued. After reviewing various alternatives, I have concluded that our best stance until Castello’s inauguration (which is now expected on Sunday) is the closest possible approximation to golden silence.

5. Specifically, we recommend that any USG spokesman say in response to questions substantially as follows: "The Brazilian Congress is scheduled to elect a president and a vice president on Saturday afternoon to serve for the remainder of the five-year presidential term ending January 31, 1966. They are expected to take office shortly thereafter. In these circumstances, we prefer to withhold any comment regarding the institutional act and its implications until the new president has taken office and made the policies of his government known."

6. As additional unattributed background for press, we suggest you point out that only since revolution has depth and breadth of subversive activity become clear, affecting many government agencies, both military and civilian, trade unions, journalism, teachers, transport and communications, etc., all systematically aided and abetted by Goulart regime. Accumulating evidence points to a Goulart plan to complete a left-wing coup d’état prior to May 1, which would have involved the closing of Congress and either a Peronista type or outright Communist-dominated dictatorship with no respect for democratic forms or constitutional liberties and no mercy for opponents. Steps in this included planned violence against Rio April 2 democratic rally, to be followed by intervention in Guanabara, other announced Goulart left wing rallies throughout April, and CGT ultimatum to Congress to accept all reforms by April 20 under penalty general strike which Goulart had said publicly he would not oppose. It appears that May 1 was to have been a victory celebration under Communist sponsorship. Country was in process becoming armed camp, with grave danger massive bloodshed. Starting with March 13 rally, Communist backing of Goulart became open and total. Goulart’s collaboration with Communists and associates had become so close in final weeks that he was becoming their virtual prisoner. Kruel and others tried almost desperately as late as March 31 to get Goulart to disavow the CGT and the Communists but without avail. As to the congressmen whose mandates were revoked this morning the majority were demonstrably implicated in direct subversive activities, such as instigating NCO and enlisted men rebellions, fomenting rural violence and land invasions, distributing arms and organizing guerrilla forces. Others were implicated in Goulart plans for abolishing constitutional order. Some half dozen were known CP members masquerading under other party labels. While we do not seek to justify extra-legal processes adopted by revolutionary leaders to carry out "operation clean-up", a substantial purge was clearly in order.

7. We are not making any announcements on aid projects during this interim, pending inauguration and policy declarations by new president.



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

Rio de Janeiro, April 20, 1964, 11 p.m.

/1/ Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 15-1 BRAZ. Confidential; Priority.

2331. 1. Herewith highlights my first private talk with President Castello Branco in Brasilia Saturday morning,/2/ lasting eighty minutes. After exchange courtesies, I congratulated him on inaugural address and remarked that we looked on April revolution as possible turning point in affairs Latin America and world as well as Brazil, provided proper use made of opportunity. Also spoke of convergence US and Brazilian interests on major issues, interest in seeing a strong and progressive Brazil, and desire approach possible divergences on any minor issues with good will on both sides. President concurred and expressed special appreciation for LBJ telegram./3/

/2/ April 18.

/3/ Reference is to Johnson’s message congratulating Castello Branco after his election on April 11 to succeed Goulart as President of Brazil. (Telegram 1401 to Rio de Janeiro, April 14; Johnson Library, National Security File, Special Heads of State Correspondence, Brazil, Branco Correspondence, Vol. I)

2. President then noted that American press reaction to his speech had been favorable, but concern clearly existed in US as to possible revolutionary excesses. He understood the withdrawal of political rights, Celso Furtado/4/ had been especially badly received. I replied that there was indeed such concern, not because of disagreement with basic purposes of revolution, but because repressive measures could be arbitrary or excessive, state police in Sao Paulo seemed presently very extreme, and some judicial or other review procedure would have important favorable effect on free world opinion. Also said Furtado case especially sensitive in view his international renown, CIAP membership, and possible invitation by an American University as visiting professor. President said he understood Furtado had appointed many Communists to SUDENE, which I acknowledged, but I then explained in some detail reasons our own appraisal Furtado. President listened attentively to this exposition. (See separate wire on discussion Furtado case with Justice Minister Milton Campos.)/5/

/4/ Former head of the Superintendency for the Development of the Northeast (SUDENE).

/5/ Telegram 2330 from Rio de Janeiro, April 20. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964-66, POL 29 BRAZ)

3. We then turned to discussion economic and social problems. President inquired at some length about Alliance for Progress, Marshall Plan, and my earlier interest in Brazilian economic development. While expressing great confidence in medium and long-term Brazilian prospects, given effective policies and administration, I emphasized technically difficult problem of coping with inflation which had in January-February reached annual rate one hundred and fifty percent, an importance of well planned investment program to cushion shock of this inflation and spread austerity burdens as equitably as possible. Indicated our readiness to support both short and long-run efforts within general AFP framework and available resources. President asked me to review history of Brazilian planning and AFP coordinating efforts in recent years, and concluded this discussion by saying he placed highest importance on effective public investment planning and coordinating mechanism, this under active study, and he hoped arrive at decision by next Wednesday, April 22.

4. Following suggestion by Foreign Minister, I then explained AMFORP history and status to president, pointing to use Colombian precedent as possible means for early solution. Explained urgency solution from viewpoint avoiding further deterioration electric service and starting financing important new projects to avoid medium-term power shortage in center south. President undertook review promptly with Finance and Mines Ministers, as well as Foreign Minister.

5. President asked me about prospects additional PL 480 supplies and debt rescheduling, to which I replied with summary exposition present status.

6. Talk also touched on general international developments such as Sino-Soviet dispute and French policies under de Gaulle. President felt Russia relatively quiescent but ChiComs rashly and dangerously expansionist. He showed particular interest in France, remarking that de Gaulle had always seemed to him obsessed with concept of national greatness symbolized simply by military power, a concept Castello Branco regarded as obsolete and irrelevant to present world realities.

7. Contrast between tone this talk and that recent Goulart audiences was as day and night. Castello Branco was alert, attentive, intelligent, and responsive. He made no incautious predictions on future line of action, and I did not seek any. He obviously still feeling his way on many matters of organization, administration, and policy, but appeared to be doing it thoughtfully and conscientiously. I left the interview with the feeling that this was a most auspicious beginning.



213. Special National Intelligence Estimate/1/

SNIE 93-64 Washington, May 27, 1964.

/1/ Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79-R01012A, O/DDI Registry. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet this estimate was prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency with the participation of the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense and the National Security Agency. The United States Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on May 27.


The Problem

To assess the stability of the Castello Branco regime and the outlook in Brazil during his stated term in office.


A. President Castello Branco, whose term runs through January 1966, probably will provide reasonably effective political leadership along moderate reformist lines./2/ It is unlikely that the supporters of deposed President Goulart will be able to mount a serious challenge to the stability of the new regime, although some leftist extremists may attempt demonstrative acts of violence to discredit it. The principal danger to the stability of the new regime is the possibility of a falling out between Castello Branco and some groups within the military who want a more thorough purge of the old political order. We believe that, with some concessions to expediency, he will succeed in maintaining general control of the situation. (Paras. 2-15)

/2/ The Director of Intelligence and Research, Department of State, feels that the thrust of this estimate is overly optimistic in several respects. He believes that it does not adequately take into account the enormous gravity and many-sided challenge of the political situation; the persisting confrontation of powerful forces on both the right and the left which will hamstring necessary reformist action; the political inexperience of the President and most of his Cabinet and the absence of enough qualified second- and third-level technical personnel; and the prospective destabilizing role of some of the revolution’s military leaders who would emphasize continuing repressive action at the expense of meaningful social reforms. For these reasons, the Director believes that there is an even chance that the regime will slip into increasing authoritarianism, thus precipitating another constitutional crisis within the period of the estimate. [Footnote in the source text.]

B. Brazil’s economic and social problems-worsened but not caused by Goulart’s disruptive rule-are not amenable to quick or painless solutions. The new regime is likely to take constructive steps on several fronts, but over the next years or so it probably will be unable to do much more than to lay a basis for future progress. It probably will enact a number of social reforms as an earnest of its concern for Brazil’s depressed classes, but will concentrate initially on combatting inflation and on other measures needed to get the economy rolling again. For political reasons, however, it probably will stop short of stringent austerity measures. It will need considerable foreign economic assistance to reschedule Brazil’s huge short-term debt and to help cushion the shock of the economic stabilization measures it does undertake. (Paras. 16-21)

[Omitted here is the Discussion section of the estimate.]


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