Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Exchange of Letters With President Goulart of Brazil.

December 23, 1963

[ Released December 23, 1963. Dated December 18, 1963 ]

Dear Mr. President:

I greatly appreciated receiving your letter of December 13 conveying your good wishes on my assumption of the Presidency, as well as your message of sympathy of November 22 in connection with President Kennedy's tragic death.

Your Foreign Minister and reports from our Embassy and Consulates have told me of the great outpouring of sympathy which was manifested in all walks of life in Brazil at that grievous event. The sympathy which we received from the entire Brazilian nation has, I am convinced, evidenced the bonds of natural affection that exist between our two peoples and demonstrated once again the deep popular support of the great ideals of peace, freedom and progress for which President Kennedy stood. It is in this spirit that I particularly welcome your having taken the initiative in opening an exchange of personal correspondence between us.

Like President Kennedy I am convinced that in the building of a better world, there is no area more important that Latin America. I am acutely conscious of the great importance of joint efforts by our two countries.

It is my view that economic development, social justice and the strengthening of representative democracy are interrelated and that progress in each of those fields can only be made in conjunction with progress in the others. I am convinced that development should be accompanied by reforms to modernize economic and social structures, to build durable institutions and develop human skills, and in this great effort for economic and social progress in all of Latin America, I am convinced that the Alliance for Progress can be of essential importance. As President Kennedy told a meeting of the Inter-American Press Association only four days before his death, "The goals and methods of the Alliance for Progress represent the only route whereby men of good will can obtain progress without despotism, social justice without social terror." I note with interest that you made the same point in your letter.

Problems of trade, development, and investment, such as were raised by various delegations at the recent Sao Paulo meeting, naturally are of concern to both of us. I believe that all these problems are soluble if approached within a framework of expanding international cooperation--a framework which removes unnecessary barriers to trade and investment and which creates new opportunities for economic growth. This is, of course, especially important to the accelerated growth of the less developed countries.

In the case of Brazil, it appears that there is an immediate concern with the problem of debt payments. Since the U.S. Government holds only a relatively small portion of the obligations which are presently due or will fall due in the next few years, a Brazilian initiative to bring this problem within manageable proportions will need to be directed primarily toward arrangements with the commercial creditors, international agencies and governments which account for the bulk of such obligations. The United States, however, stands ready to participate in negotiations for this purpose.

Brazil, I know is the possessor of a fine tradition of political freedom and stability, and of social and religious tolerance. It also has a rich cultural heritage, great natural resources, an already very substantial industrial base and internal market, and a highly talented people. The remarkable progress made in the last thirty years, with the creation in Brazil of the greatest industrial center in Latin America, provides solid ground for confidence that all the elements exist for an even more brilliant early future. Our countries have stood together in war and in peace, and I believe that our continued cooperation can make a vital contribution to the welfare of both our peoples.



Note: President Goulart's letter of December 13 follows:

Dear Mr. President:

The Brazilian Government and people are following with brotherly sympathy the decisive moments through which the United States is passing, after being so hard hit by the loss of the admirable leader who was John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

We are comforted by the certainty, based on the first actions and statements of your excellency, that there will be no interruption in the high destiny which continues to be reserved for your country, with which there is indissolubly associated the survival of the democratic ideas and the permanent values of our civilization.

The cruel attack which struck down your predecessor left him, for all time, fixed in the very act of struggling for generous causes and deepened the commitment of all peoples and all men of good will for the construction of a new world, free from the already obsolete ideological preconceptions of the last century and also independent of the unacceptable privileges and interests of special groups, castes, or individuals. The causes of improving relations among peoples and of perfecting human society have been fortified by the lamentable episode in which President Kennedy lost his life, President Kennedy who infused both these missions with a higher ideal of justice, with high standards of peaceful brotherhood, and with the search for a prosperity which could be enjoyed by all, in accordance with their merits and their needs.

We are certain, Mr. President, that the policies which were the aspirations of the extraordinarily statesmanlike vision of your lamented predecessor will continue to be pursued with unshakable stubbornness and confidence, within the framework of the strictest respect for human dignity. It is on this postulate that we base the conviction that we are on the right road. No economic process, however perfected, no modern technique, however efficient, will be able to prove lasting and valid if by chance it implies a sacrifice of the dignity of the human individual. It is not possible to admit that there should remain without rights the millions of people who are demanding, all over the world, access to a life which is dignified, free, and just.

I take pleasure in affirming to you, on this occasion, that this is also the orientation of government of my country. I recognize that, if it lacks this sense of authenticity, no power emanating from the people can expect to be sustained without failing in its mission and its purposes. This was the very reason for which John F. Kennedy lived and died.

We are certain, Mr. President, that this banner of a noble struggle will continue to be held fearlessly by you, and that you will not let it fall, so that there may thus be completed the admirable work which was begun under the aegis of your predecessor. In this way we can maintain the understanding between our two countries, linked by traditional friendship and numerous common interests. The spirit of reform, which belongs to the cultural and historic patrimony of the United States, and which was so eloquently stressed by President Kennedy, will certainly continue very much alive under your government and will be able to help in constantly increasing degree the fruitful cooperation which should bring us together.

With wishes for your personal happiness, and for the growing greatness of your country, I take this opportunity to present by highest appreciation and unchangeable consideration.
Very sincerely yours,

Lyndon B. Johnson, Exchange of Letters With President Goulart of Brazil. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under



Simple Search of Our Archives