Category: History

Why the Communists are Winning as of 1976...
by William D. Pawley & Richard R. Tryon

Chapter Eight



To my mounting concern during my ambassadorship, the Brazilian Communist Party had taken an alarming number of great leaps forward. Its shrewd and vigorous leadership had built up a militant hard core of some 120,000 regulars. It spearheaded an increase from 600,000 votes piled in the 1945 election of Dutra, which was frightening enough, to 800,000 in 1947. The Communists had gained a plurality in Rio, elected a coalition candidate for Governor of Sao Paulo, piled up a majority in Recife, and elected two Senators, fourteen deputies and almost 70 members of state legislatures. While this was considerably less than the million-vote total predicted, it was ominous.
President Dutra had denounced the Communist Party as a threat to Brazilian democracy, and the Catholic Church had urged its communicants to go to the polls, since “every abstention is a vote for Communism.” In Latin America as a whole, the Red Tide seemed to be in full flood. Chile had elected President Gabriel Gonzalez Vidella, with Communist support, for which the Party had been rewarded with three Cabinet seats. In Cuba, a Communist was Vice-President and the Reds controlled the trade unions.
In the United States, despite a growing awareness of the Soviet threat, our foreign policy was still in a nebulous state of carryover from the emotionally-charged friendship of a wartime alliance to the realities of the impending world struggle between freedom and totalitarianism.
With my morning coffee and newspaper, I was fed a steady diet of vicious propaganda against the “imperialist” United States. A diet also was being fed to the population in a skillfully conceived and executed master plan to wreck inter-American cooperation. The Marxists hoped to stifle the investment of foreign capital, and to create, perpetuate and intensify conditions of economic stagnation, retrogression and chaos. These are standard elements of Communist tactics.
The Reds missed a few bets. There was the literacy requirement for voters, as an example. Talking to some of the humbler employees in residence at the Embassy, I learned that they were attending night school so as to qualify for the vote. I asked what they were studying. The curriculum, it developed, featured major courses in “Hate the U.S. - 110,” “Love the Soviet Union - 112" and “Dedication to Social Revolution - 114.” Thousands of such institutions of Red learning were poisoning the minds of men and women whose only goal was to qualify as conscientious Brazilian citizens.
After a brazen statement by Luis Carlos Prestes, leader of the Communist Party of Brazil, that in the event of war between Brazil and the Soviet Union all Communists must fight for a Soviet victory, matters came to a boil. The government finally decided to act. It appealed to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal for a ruling that the Communist Party was illegal.
I held a serious talk with Dutra, who expressed his fear of a complete Communist takeover unless bold action were taken, and soon. I proposed that, although I was not a Catholic, it might be helpful on my forthcoming visit home, if I could find time to sound out the dignitaries of the Catholic Church and bring their latest views to Dutra.
Edna and I flew to Washington near the end of September, 1946, but several weeks intervened before I was able to seek out my old friend Francis Cardinal Spellman. First, the disorder that had plagued me for so long forced me into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for a checkup and recuperation. I touched base with the Robert Hannegan, Harry and Clare Boothe Luce, and the Tom Clarks, renewing old ties and voicing my alarm over rising Communist strength in Brazil. I expounded this to them also at lunch with ex-President Herbert Hoover, and with Ike and Mamie Eisenhower when they drove down to our Belvoir Far outside Washington for a visit. Ike had always remained a farmer at heart, and a keenly observant agrarian expert, as he proved on a tour of inspection of my premises.
Finally I contrived to work in a special trip to see Cardinal Spellman. He reacted with such immediate concern that he suggested a broader meeting in Washington three days later. Monsignor Fulton Sheen, then titular Bishop of Caesarina and Auxiliary Bishop of New York; Monsignor John Joseph Mitty, and Archbishop of San Francisco, and the Cardinal, picked me up at the hotel and drove me to dinner at Sheen’s house. These wise religious leaders fully shared by concern as we exchanged views on the critical situation facing the world.
Spellman concluded with the practical suggestion, for a beginning, that upon my return to Rio I go to see Jaime Cardinal Camara, the newly appointed Primate of Brazil. Spellman had once been his secretary, and he assured me that Cardinal Camara would be fully informed on the Communist situation. I later wrote to Spellman:
“I am tremendously impressed by the keen knowledge your friends had of all the perplexing world problems, and I know that you are doing everything in your power to assist in bringing some semblance of order to the world ... I have tried not to be unduly disturbed, but when I see all around me agents of a nation endeavoring to destroy us, I cannot help but wonder if we are taking sufficient precautions... I do not recall an instance where members of the Russian government have shown a sympathetic understanding of the U.S.; where they had shown a desire for us to succeed in our efforts to be of use to the world.
“They are busily engaged in every corner of South America in a battle of nerves, a psychological warfare that they could easily win because of the promises they are making to the masses of uneducated people, which promised they know they will never have to fulfill... I hope that out of all this confusion will develop some thought, some idea, that will lead us from this darkness into the sunlight.”
In his reply, Spellman assured me that he and his associates “certainly see mind to mind with one another.”


Back in Rio, I briefed President Dutra and was able to assure him of the wholehearted support of the Church in whatever just and lawful measures he adopted to outlaw the Communist Party. I also followed up with Cardinal Camara, an excitable man, who on three occasions inadvertently spoke of outlawing “the Protestant Party,” instead of the Communist Party, reminding me of some of those perennial jokes about Catholic versus Protestant.
The kind of action I had been praying for was soon forthcoming. On May 6, 1947, the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, by 3-1 vote, illegalized the Party as “inimical to the democratic regime.” Plain-clothes police immediately began shutting down the Communist “Clubs” and schools. Some 600 agents of the Federal police, alerted for immediate action upon announcement of the Tribunal’s decision, closed hundred of Red dominated trade unions and farm organizations throughout the land. Approximately 5,000 tainted organizations were padlocked. After being “fumigated,” the unions were then placed under the temporary control of government-appointed mediators.
Cardinal Camara exhorted Catholics to support the decision, lest Brazil start down what he called a “torturous road toward an unknown and dangerous destination.” Press reaction was mixed. Three of the leading metropolitan papers expressed fear of a return to authoritarian rule, but the Jornal do Brasil, under strong Catholic influence, hailed the decision on the premise that “Communism and democracy are incompatible.”
Time magazine reacted predictably. It quoted the Correjo de Manha to the effect that democracy had been sacrificed to “Dutracracy,” adding: “With yesterday’s closing of the Communist Party, one does not have to be a prophet to foresee for some time in the future - how long depends upon the amount of stupidity accumulated in the government - the victory of the Communist Party.”
Time then rang in the stock Communist line against suppression of the Reds, that the move was just a pretext to silence all dissenting opinion. The Brazilian army, it pontificated, “works hand in glove with the Church to reinforce the country’s reactionary social pattern. Many a Brazilian liberal feared last week that the Army was out to silence not just Communists but all critics of the Dutra government.”
These predictions turned out to be fatuous. Under repression, the Communist Party withered, commencing to flourish again only after it had received official resuscitation in 1953 from Jose Goulart, a fellow traveler if not a Party member, who was allowed to become Minister of Labor. In its reference to the Army as a hotbed of reactionaries, Time chose to ignore, among the Army’s old grads, an ardently pro- Labor and revolutionary leader named Getulio Vargas, a “revolutionary” in the better sense of the word. Solemnity characterizes the life of an Ambassador more often than humor. Nevertheless, the Communist newspaper, Tribuna Popular, sometimes brightened my day by a ludicrous editorial at my expense. On September 18, 1947, in what was pure fiction, the paper alleged that I had said to a private gathering of American businessmen:
“It cannot be denied that the United States must develop a certain type of imperialism, but it will be of benefit to the populations under control, for we will give them sanitation, schools, transport, etc.” Tribuna Popular went on to conclude that I had swallowed whole “The argument of the most crass colonialism,” whose spokesmen rationalized slavery as “beneficial to the slave because it gave him clothes, food and a roof.”
“Skirmishes with my friend Harry Luce and Time magazine, resulting in frequent phone calls which had commenced while I was in Peru, now redoubled. Like other Latin Americans, Brazilians are quick to take offense at real or imagined affronts, including those emanating from the press. They were dubious when I tried to explain the traditional irreverence of our press, which is free to take a jarring dig at our President and his family, if so inclined, under our interpretation of freedom of speech. In Peru, for example, President Prado called me in to complain bitterly that he had been “stabbed in the back by Time,”which had referred to him as a “sunken-chested, pot bellied” president.
“Do you think the Peruvian press would have referred to Mr. Roosevelt as the paralytic President of the United States?” he asked earnestly.
The most inflammatory affront to Brazilian sensibilities appeared in Time April 21, 1947, with the assertion that most Brazilian nurses were so wretchedly trained that doctors “do not trust them even to administer a sedative.” The article failed to mention that the United States was cooperating with Brazil in developing a nurses’ training program. The magazine compounded the slur by an unflattering reference to Dutra’s wife:
“One thing is sure. Brazil’s first lady, tall, 260 lb. Camela Dutra, does not like Guanabara Palace. Superstitious ‘Dona Santinha’ (the Little Saint) fears the palace’s curse:she blames it for serious illness last spring ...”
The article ran a picture of Senora Dutra with the cryptic caption: “Chickens fell dead.”
Needling of this sort by Time was sometimes garnished with gross inaccuracy and disrespect for facts. With cynicism and gratuitous disrespect, the Dutra Administration was referred to as “fumbling,” the President as “plodding.” General Goes Monteiro, one of the most powerful military-political figures in Brazil and an adamant foe of Communism, was “old and ailing,” and “crafty.”
The Brazilian Communist Party, by contrast, came up smelling like a lilac bloom on Time’s pages. Red leader Prestes, and Communist achievements at the polls, met with fulsome praise and ill-concealed glee. I got Luce on the phone and protested.
“Your blasted magazine,” I told him, “is doing more harm than my Embassy can counteract. What are you trying to prove?”
“Time has always been an impudent magazine, Bill,” he retorted. “You know that. We’ve got to call them the way we see them.”
In May, 1947, I was at least able to persuade Harry Luce to visit Brazil as our guest and see for himself. He wired that one purpose of his trip would be to rest up and be spared the tedium of formalities. Instead, he was besieged by a formidable delegation from the Brazilian press and harassed by penetrating questions about Time’s coverage of their country. They gave him a particularly bad time over the article which referred to their first lady as “superstitious” and weighing 260 pounds, at a time when she was terminally ill.
I tried to soothe Luce by emphasizing the extremes to which Edna and I had gone to cooperate with Time’s young reporter, complying with all of his requests, providing him with story background and talking to him by the hour. We related that after downing several stiff highballs, the young staff writer remarked to my wife:
“Every time I turn around I seem to get another invitation to the Embassy.” Edna answered:
“You are evidently receiving too many. I will see that you receive no more.”
For Luce’s information, I counted off on my fingers the number of times his writer had failed to check his stories with me and others in possession of the facts, or to correct errors in his copy when he did consult us, after which he would go ahead and send in the story even after the urgency of a correction had been carefully spelled out.
Luce absorbed the punishment from the press and the Brazilian friends we invited to meet him, then after five days threw in the towel.
“I’m going home, Bill,” he said.
“But you just got here. Why?”
“I came down here for a rest. Not a third degree,” he said.
“One of the troubles with you news media types, is that you can dish it out, but you can’t take it,” I answered, “Why don’t you stick around and find out what it feels like to be in the wrong end of the shooting gallery. You’ve never been a quitter.” That seemed to give him considerable pause.
“You may have something,” he said, “All right, I’ll serve out the full two weeks, if you don’t mind my moving out of the Embassy, away from social obligations. All I want is some peace and quiet - and damn little of that.”
It would be a gross omission not to mention Henry Luce’s extraordinary wife Clare Boothe Luce, my friend of many years, with whom I had shared an unlikely wartime adventure on a flying trip from India back to the United States via Cairo, Egypt early in 1942.
Like almost everyone who met this rare feminine combination of stellar actress, gifted writer, diplomat (our first woman Ambassador to Italy), student of history and intense patriot, I was among her legion of admirers.
India at that time was a focus for the international press bent on digging out what was going on in the negotiations between Britain and the Government of India aimed at the latter’s postwar independence. Naturally, Luce had dispatched his most trusted to the scene of action. Clare and I met at social functions in New Delhi, following which she was booked on the military air transport which we both needed for our next stop at Cairo, Egypt, an accomplishment even for a celebrity noted for a rare combination of beauty, brains, character and a will of steel.
When she stepped off our plane in Port of Spain, Trinidad, Clare was summarily placed under house arrest, by zealous British intelligence officers. They confiscated her briefcase into the bargain. She was suspected of having written material inimical to the desired image of Britain as our wartime ally.
After Clare appealed by phone to her husband and Editor Hedley Donovan, it was arranged that her dispatches would be turned over to a special courier who happened to be the grandson of Lord Tennyson. Our plane was then permitted to proceed to New York, where Clare was met by Harry and the British ambassador, Lord Halifax. The latter dispatched the suspect papers direct to 10 Downing Street.
Evidently Churchill knew honest and professional reporting when he saw it, for, some months later he ordered a special plane to take Clare to General Alexander’s headquarters in Italy. The Prime Minister wanted someone to give him an unvarnished report, with the bark on.
Before his departure, Harry and I agreed upon an amicable modus operandi. While not for a moment would it tailor its policies to Embassy wishes, Time would refrain from such vital statistics as the generous dimensions of Dutra’s wife or to the paunch of the President of Peru and other notable.
Short-lived was my elation at what appeared to have been a signal victory, after Luce wired me his thanks and said he had become an “evangelist” for my goals in Brazil. There was a brief moratorium, and the resident Time writer reverted to his old ways.
While I have pulled no punches in my appraisal of Time I need pull none, either where its publisher is concerned. Henry Luce, in my book, had absolute integrity and a deep faith in American traditions of political and economic freedom.
One reason that I failed to make an impression on Time overnight lies in a parallel between that vast organization and any administration Washington: the Boss can give orders, but the final result is in the hands of those supposed to carry them out. A second, and more disquieting explanation came from the luminous and always penetrating brain of Herbert Hoover. When I mentioned my duels with Time, at lunch on a trip to New York, he commented in carefully measured words:
“I would assume the reason the magazine rapidly reverted to its bad habits is that there were, at the time, about a hundred pro-Communists and fellow travelers in the Time- Life organization.”


When I walked through the Embassy door on my return to Rio, I was reminded how doubly blessed I had been in the caliber of my staff, without whose competence I would have snowed under by the prodigious work load. There were stalwarts like Paul C. Daniels, David Key, John H. Burns, Clarence A. Brooks, Walter McConaghy, Randolph Kidder, to mention only a few.
Five of these men later became Ambassadors. And among my younger star performers was Major Vernon “Dick” Walters, an assistant Military Attache, educated in Switzerland, who spoke eight languages with fluent ease, combining this gift with a bright mind and a strong personality. It was Walters who stood by the side of distinguished visitors when they addressed the Congress, repeating nearly verbatim, in flawless Portuguese, what they had just said. Consequently, he was to serve as interpreter for Presidents during their more important meetings with Foreign Chiefs of State and at all summit meetings. During the Iranian oil crisis in 1951, he was to act as aide to Harriman during negotiations with the pro-Communist Iranian Prime Minister, Muhammad Mosaddeq, ably in many posts and at the time of this writing is Deputy Director of CIA whose confidence Walters quickly won. Walters has served his country.
Not all of my chores were of momentous import, but they helped to oil the machinery. On authority from Washington, I took over and negotiated a satisfactory settlement over partial repayment of Lend-Lease supplies furnished by us to Brazil during the War. I requested and received permission to draw upon the proceeds of the Lend- Lease repayment ($3 million in U.S currency and $12 million in Brazilian cruzeiros), with offices, a theater, cafeteria and apartments for newly arrived Embassy personnel to tide them over until they could find accommodations, to improve morale and efficiency. I seized every opportunity to fly all over Brazil, visiting most of the State capitals, in order to bring as much first-hand knowledge as possible to my job.


The Rio conference of Inter-American States, held in the summer of 1947, marked a milestone in the strengthening of hemispheric military solidarity.
Our Embassy went all out to anticipate every possible contingency: Proper housing and food for the delegates; topnotch communications and interpreter facilities; transportation, social entertainment and everything we could plan for that they might need.
The large and distinguished United States delegation, headed by Secretary Marshall, labored diligently for thirty days. Our efforts culminated in my opinion, in one of the finest treaties every entered into by the United States. The agreement was signed on behalf of the United States by Secretary George C. Marshall, Arthur H. Vandenberg, Warren R. Austin, Sol Bloom and myself.
Prospects for hammering out a viable security system for the Western hemisphere seemed favorable. Argentina had been officially declared to be in compliance with anti-Nazi provisions of the Act of Chapultepec, and, with Spruille Braden now out of the Department of State, the danger of a feud between an Argentine bloc and a United States bloc was remote.
Out of the Conference came a far-reaching decision: That any armed attack upon a member state in the Western Hemisphere would be construed as an attack upon all - a reaffirmation of the Monroe Doctrine. Each signatory bound itself to cooperate in collective measures against such aggression, if they were endorsed by a two-thirds majority of the signatory nations, provided that no nation shall be compelled to resort to armed force without its consent.
President Truman, accompanied by Mrs. Truman and Margaret, lent his prestige to the final days of a successful conference. He was greeted on his arrival by over by over a million people. The Trumans spent the first four days with us before becoming the official guest of the Brazilian government. Mr. Truman, who loved Brazil to start with exhibited the drive and energy of a young man who was enjoying every minute.
One evening President Dutra’s daughters arrived at the Embassy to take Margaret Truman to the opera. After they had left, Truman flashed a conspiratorial look at me.
“Know what I’d really enjoy, Bill? He asked. “I’d like to go there myself and hear some real music.” Bands had been running into the ground the “Missouri Waltz,” which Truman came to loathe.
Truman, Admiral Leahy and I smuggled ourselves out of the Embassy without calling the Secret Service (at Truman’s insistence), and arrived unobtrusively at the side entrance of the opera house. We slipped into the Governor’s private elevator and reached the latter’s box.
In the privacy of the box, the President hugely enjoyed the first act of Tosca. To the evident bewilderment of the cast, the audience greeted their performance with salvos of thunderous applause which required five or six curtain calls. Finally it dawned on the astonished singers that all eyes were directed toward our box, behind which people were gathering, clamoring for autographs or the pleasure of shaking Truman’s hand.
There was nothing for it but to acknowledge the spontaneous ovation. Truman stood up, to the horror of the Secret Service men assigned to the protection of Margaret. They assumed that the boss was safely ensconced in the Embassy. To avoid the crowds, we left quietly in the middle of the next act.
On more official occasions, the President met with the same unrestrained enthusiasm, while President Dutra, exhibiting his customary modesty, hovered inconspicuously in the background.

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