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C. Charles

Welles Tries to Line Up
So. American Countries

With Vargas as His Chief Lieutenant,
He Uses Economic Pressure as Well as Words

(21 January 1942)

From The Militant, Vol 6 No. 4, 24 January 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

JAN. 21. – On Jan. 16, the Conference of American Foreign Ministers assembled in the palace of the former Chamber of Deputies of Brazil at Rio de Janeiro. At the opening session Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles presented the proposal of the United States Government calling for the complete breaking off of relations with the Axis by all the Latin American countries.

The aim of Welles at the conference was to make sure that the United States and its allies would receive all the civilian and military exports of Latin America. This is part of the long-range military strategy of blockading the Axis. The United States is also attempting to secure air and naval bases.

Ten nations, primarily in the Caribbean area, are at war alongside the United States, while three others have broken off diplomatic relations with the Axis.

The representatives of Argentina and Chile are proving difficult to “convince”. Fearful that the Allies will not be victorious and that the Axis powers in this case would take revenge upon them; anxious to avoid an Axis declaration of war against their own countries, and bargaining for more economic concessions from the United States as a price for their support of the resolution calling for hemispheric unity and an unanimous rupture with the Axis – they are hesitant about lining up.

Welles, in his speech attempting to overcome these obstacles, assured the assembled diplomats of the superior military power of the Allies over the Axis. In addition the threat of economic and financial pressure is being used behind the scenes.

Other resolutions presented called for the establishment of a Pan-American defense committee, for hemispheric adherence to the Atlantic Charter, for the investigation on an inter-continental scale of Axis activities, the suppression of Axis organizations, the closing of communication channels with the Axis and the strict regulation of movement of Axis citizens.

The chief lieutenant of Welles is Getulio Vargas, “president” of Brazil.

Vargas on Nov. 10, 1937, declared himself dictator of Brazil, dissolved the Congress (which has never met since), promulgated a new constitution which declared him dictator for life. He has. gone even further – he has appointed the next president, the head of the Supreme Court, Eduardo Espinola, to take over when Vargas dies. All unions have been abolished. Vargas loves to pass out nicely noosed lengths of rope when he wants people to hang themselves, saving himself the trouble of doing away with them. A thousand opponents of his government are in prison.

With this as the stage and with Vargas as his lieutenant, it is no wonder that the references by Welles to the war as a “war for democracy” are very few. In the house of the hanged one does not speak of gallows. In Brazil one is polite and considerate to Vargas and one speaks rarely and vaguely about democracy, but one does speak of finance, trade and industrial concessions.

The events at the palace where the Brazilian Congress used to meet, before it was dissolved, the actors on the stage, the lines that are spoken – all promise that the Rio de Janeiro conference will be the season’s best satire.

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