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Digital Archive International History Declassified

May 17, 1963


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    Chairman Mao discusses Manuel Jover Telles's visit to China, the Brazilian economy, and factions within the Brazilian government.
    "Memorandum of Conversation from Chairman Mao's Reception of the Delegation of the Brazilian Communist Party (The Old Party)," May 17, 1963, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, PRC FMA 111-00608-04. Translated by Sergey Radchenko.
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Memorandum of Conversation from Chairman Mao's Reception of the Delegation of the Brazilian Communist Party (The Old Party)

Time: April 17, 1963, 8:30 pm-10:30 pm and April 18, 4 pm-7 pm

Place: Hangzhou

Chairman Mao: Welcome to you.

[Manuel Jover] Telles: We are very happy to see you today, we have brought greetings to you from comrade [Luíz Carlos] Prestes and the [PCB] Central Committee.

Chairman: Thank you. Thank comrade Prestes on my behalf. How is his health? He came to China in 1959, and spoke with me once. He is relatively old, about the same as I.  [Mao was 70 years old—ed.]  

Telles: 65 years old.

Chairman: Then, he is a bit younger than I. You came from Brazil, you passed through many places and have not had a rest. Do you feel tired?

Telles: We went via Africa, Paris, and Moscow.

Chairman: That's more than half the globe.

Telles: We left Rio de Janeiro on March 27, and came to China on March 31. We only arrive here from Beijing this morning.

Chairman: There are positive sides to visiting South China. You can go to see Shanghai. Shanghai is only three hours away from here.

Telles: Comrade Mao Zedong surely knows the goal of our visit to China. We have been entrusted by the Central Committee to come and report on our situation and to understand the views of the Chinese comrades concerning the split in the international communist movement. In Beijing we reported on our situations to comrade Wu Xiuquan and comrade Li Qixin, and comrade Peng Zhen spoke to us about the problems of the split of the international communist movement.

Chairman: I know about this in general terms. I am not too sure what questions comrade Peng Zhen spoke to you about [but] I already know about your report.

Comrade Wu Xiuquan (hereafter, Wu, to Chairman Mao): Comrades Peng Zhen and Kang Sheng spoke to them about the content and the process of development of the Sino-Soviet split, problems of the Sino-Indian border, the problem of Yugoslavia, the problem of the Caribbean Sea [likely a ref. to the Cuban Missile Crisis – trans.], revolutionary strategy and tactics, and so on.  

Chairman: I've already looked at the Brazilian situation that you have spoken about to comrades Wu Xiuquan and Li Qixin. This helps me understand the Brazilian situation but there are some other questions I am not too clear about.

Telles: We are fully able to provide even more information, possibly the last time we were unable to speak clearly, but we listen to your disposition [zhipei], if you have any views on our report, or if you have views on other problems of our party, we are very wiling to listen, we won't see it as interference in internal affairs. Although our party's history is fairly old it [the party] is still fairly backward [luohou].

Chairman: For example, foreign debt reaching 3.1 billion US dollars, what kind of foreign debt is this? Does this include foreign investments?

Telles: It does not count investment by foreign companies, this refers purely to payment for goods.

Chairman: of a financial nature?

Telles: Yes. In recent years, Brazil lives by borrowing, repays debts by borrowing, and the debt is growing ever larger. In reality, actual cash never reaches Brazil.

Chairman: In terms of foreign investment in heavy and light industry, your report only has percentages but does not have absolute numbers. The report only has the sum for years 1955 to 1961, more than 500 million [sic; 5 billion?—trans.] US dollars, but it I don't know the numbers for before 1955.

Telles: In Beijing comrades already pointed out this issue. We can't provide absolute numbers. One can say that just US direct investment certainly exceeds 2 billion US dollars.  

Chairman: Moreover, it's probably not limited to just US investment?

Telles: There are also other countries. In Brazil, current foreign investments, not counting the US, come from West Germany, France, and Britain. Japan is also recovering its economic power in Brazil. The increase in West German investments in very quick, mainly in the car industry and the machine tool industry. Japan's is mainly in the shipbuilding industry. Italy also has some investments.

Chairman: And doesn't Canada also have some?

Telles: Canada has big enterprises, for instance [a] light and electricity company, but most of its shares are in the US hands, real Canadian capital, [Canadian] penetration are not that great. Generally speaking, the percentage of US investments is on the decline but it is growing in absolute numbers. Our report pointed out that annual automobile production has reached 130,000, the main part is in foreign hands, mainly in the hands of the US capital. Around the automobile market there sprang up some auxiliary industries, such as the automotive parts industry. The majority of these automotive parts industries are national capitalists, they have relations with foreign capital. This year after the change of the presidential system, Brazil is going to pay off 800 million US dollars of US debt. Last month, the Finance Minister Santiago Dantas went to the US. It is planned to renew a US loan in order to repay debt. It was originally planned to borrow 1.5 billion US dollars, to use it for paying off debts for three years but the US has only given the amount necessary for paying off this year's debt, the rest remains for later, to hold Brazil by the pigtail. This has something to do with [João] Goulart's 3 Year Plan, it also has something to do with the Alliance for Progress. It does not touch on the causes of economic difficulties. Their reliance on the Three Year Plan of the Alliance for Progress [sic] is not at all in accordance with the interests of the Brazilian people.

Chairman: Can you say that the Brazilian national capitalist class has already captured political power?

Telles: The composition of the present government is still very complex. I already mentioned in the report that the specifics of the current Brazilian situation is that the Brazilian nation has already divided into two groups: one, the patriotic group, and the other the sell-out group. The patriotic group of the national capitalist class belongs to our common anti-imperialist front.  The sell-out group includes the sell-out elements of the national capitalist class and the large landowners. Therefore, the specifics of the political situation in Brazil are that there is often conflict between these two groups. Sometimes it relaxes, and sometimes it sharpens. There was a sharpening in 1954, there was the suicide of [Getúlio] Vargas, I already mentioned that in the report. The latest instance is the struggle of the general strike of July 5 of last year.  

So, with these struggles, what means does one use to resolve them? The entire process is in the hands of the capitalist class. The result of the struggle is that the capitalist class reaches a compromise. The current government is a product of a compromise. After a compromise, the government has become increasingly stable in its position. This government has large landowners, big capitalists and representatives of the national bourgeoisie. In general, it's a product of a compromise. Recently we saw a dispatch of the Xinhua Agency, it looks as if the whole process has sharpened again. The head of the war ministry Kuluai'erqitu [Amaury Kruel] fired the commander of the First Army A'erweisi [Osvino Ferreira Alves]. This head of the war ministry has ties to the large landowners, and the commander of the first army, by contrast, has connections with the leftist forces, he represents the national bourgeoisie. One can say that the position of the capitalist class in power has been consolidated, but it is unable to control it entirely. They would [like?] to extend their control, so they want support of the workers, and they are making economic concessions to the workers. Of course, at the same time these concessions facilitate the struggle of the working class.

Chairman: Can one say that Vargas represented the national bourgeoisie?

Telles: No. Vargas was a big landowner from South Rio Grande. He came to power following the movement of 1930. In 1929 there was a crisis on the Rio stock market, the world economic crisis impacted Brazil, the national bourgeoisie looked for a way out, the US was also wantonly acting in Brazil, [it] wanted to get rid of the British influence in Brazil. At the time, the bourgeois class was developing, they wanted to take advantage [of the situation] to occupy a position of political power. The petit-bourgeoisie were disappointed with the uprising of 1924, and also thought that this was an opportunity. The party at the time still had many weaknesses both in terms of ideas and the organization. Under such circumstances, the U.S. put out money to support the Vargas group and attained the victory of the movement. Vargas became president but the Americans were not able to completely displace Britain's position, because Britain continued to oppose them.  

In 1932 the coffee plantation owners from Santa Catarina, who had ties to the U.K., started an insurrection, and the government was forced to come to terms with them. Vargas obtained money from the U.S. and gave subsidies to these coffee plantation owners. Germany took advantage of the opportunity and also got into Brazil, establishing a Corporate Fascist Party [Brazilian Integralist Action (Ação Integralista Brasileira, AIB) party?], this party indeed became a mass movement.

In 1937 Vargas, on the pretext of opposing communism, established the New State [Estado Novo], and, all the way through 1945, fully exercised personal dictatorship. In 1938 Vargas made a talk on a cruiser, announcing that Brazil fully supported Hitler. In 1938 there was a political coup that prompted cheers from Berlin. Afterward, due to the development of the Second World War, the US declaring war against Germany, there was an upsurge in the people's anti-fascist struggle. It was only then that Vargas declared war on Germany.

After the war, the British were unable to protect their interest in Brazil because they could not even take care of themselves, and the enterprises belonging to the nationals of the Axis powers came under the control of the Brazilian government. The US set up an air base and a naval base in Brazil's northeastern part, forced Brazil to sign the Washington agreement, and obtained a position of absolute preponderance in Brazil. During this period Vargas also made concessions to the workers' movement.

Before 1930 labor unions were unrecognized by the government. After continuous struggle, now the government could not help but recognize them. But Vargas plagiarized Italy's labor charter in setting up Brazil's labor law. In it, he decreed the extend of the power of the labor unions and regulations concerning social insurance, and dressed himself up as the protector of the labor movement. After the coup of October 28, 1945 Vargas was expelled from power.

Among the capitalist class, Vargas is quite smart. He also understands how to use cadres. At that time the world war ended, and the people wanted democracy and amnesty of political prisoners. Vargas saw that the situation was not right, He preferred cutting off a finger to preserve an arm and made concessions to the democratic movement. But in 1945 he was still expelled from power.

In the elections of 1950 he was once again elected President. He opted for a strong policy against imperialism, [established a] state oil monopoly, set up the minimum worker wage, and attempted to establish contacts with other European countries. At the time the whole country was on the eve of an election. Vargas wanted to gain victory for his group. He did not dare to resort to tough measures against the people's movement. Therefore, the most reactionary forces, with US support, carried out a coup. At the time Vargas basically had every condition to resist. At the time every democratic force, including our party, initiated contact with him, asking him to arm the people.  

But at the time the repressive apparatus was split. If Vargas opposed the coup, there would have been a civil war. Vargas understood that, he preferred to kill himself. He was unwilling to let the people rise up to chop off his arm. Can't say that Vargas was a representative of the national bourgeoisie.

Chairman: After Vargas's death, what factions does the government have?

Telles: He was succeeded by Vice President Café Filho. This person participated in the coup. He had no ability to obstruct the mass movement. Therefore, there was another election. [Juscelino] Kubitschek was elected. The people who supported him in gaining power were the same as those who supported Vargas.

Imperialism wanted to impede him from taking power, they wanted to organize a coup. But on November 11, 1955 the democratic forces within the army launched a counter-coup, organized [sic; probably “prevented”—trans.] their coup. Kubitschek  gained power, he is a typical representative of the bourgeoisie. However, I would not [word missing, probably “say”—trans.] that he was a representative of the national bourgeoisie. His thinking was progressive. He wanted to promote Brazil's capitalist development but he wanted to rely on American imperialism and he would not dismantle the structure of large land ownership at the cost of sacrificing the wide masses.

From 1955 to 1956 he established Brazil's auto industry. At the time he could basically rely on the national capital to manage [it]. There already were national capitalist enterprises, which began to produce cars. The U.S. discovered that they could not impede the development of national capitalism, so it became involved in the development of the auto industry. Kubitschek also turned to Japan for capital and established a ship-building factory. He also turned to West Germany for capital, and set up an auto factory and heavy industry. Kubitschek's time was the time of economic development but it was carried out relying on an unprecedented influx of U.S. and other foreign capital.

At the same time, Kubitschek utilized contradictions between all the foreign countries. After the elections, [Jânio] Quadros gained power. Quadros is a representative of the big capitalists of São Paulo.

The capital possessed by São Paulo's big capitalist class accounts for 50 to 60 percent of Brazil's capitalist class. Quadros is not the same as Kubitschek. Kubitschek relied on inflation to drive economic construction but Quadros resorted to financial austerity. Quadros's internal policy was to obey the IMF while his external policy was to promote the principle of self-determination for all countries.  

During his rule, [Brazil] began restoring diplomatic relations with all the socialist countries, stepped up the oppression of the people, yet also sought the markets of socialist countries. There were contradictions with the U.S. Therefore, Quadros was forced to resign, there was the August [1961] incident. At the time Vice President Goulart was in China. Fascist generals declared that they would not allow Goulart to return home. They wanted to establish fascist rule. There was a universal internal strike against the establishment of a fascist dictatorship. Led by [Leonel] Brizola of Rio Grande do Sul, it resolutely opposed fascist tyranny.

Brizola organized a legal broadcast network. At the time the third army, stationed in Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná, stalled and did not listen to the orders of the fascist generals in Rio de Janeiro, marching north to the border area between São Paulo and Paraná, where it established fortifications. The fascist generals ordered troops into the South but entire regiments and battalions would not listen to orders, there was a split. At the time, Rio Grande do Sul already established more than a hundred worker volunteer battalions [check unit], preparing for war.

Chairman: Did these worker volunteer troops have weapons?

Telles: They did not yet have weapons, they paraded in the street, practicing military drills. The state of Goias had two thousand peasants with home-made weapons, they advanced on Brasília. At the time our party's direction was to advocate the civil war. Our slogan was: protect constitutional rule, dismantle the big land ownership system, and throw off U.S. control. When Goulart returned home, he returned to Brazil via Rio Grande do Sul. As the leadership was in the hands of the national bourgeoisie, they knew that if a civil war starts, it could lead to the Communists organizing an enormous armed force. Then they adopted a compromise policy, organized a parliamentary government, paralyzing the entire movement. The basic problem was not resolved. Contradictions sharpened again.

The conflict between two big factions sharpened again in 1962. The main movement this time was the political general strike. This was shortly before the elections. Some ministers resigned and participated in the elections. Goulart had no choice but to reorganize the cabinet. The U.S. attempted to organize a cabinet that would be completely subservient to them. The national bourgeoisie, on the other hand, tried to strengthen their position in the government. The two sides acted wantonly, and the struggle of contradictions sharpened. Under these circumstances, workers, under the party leadership, carried out a general strike, proposed to organized a national democratic government, raised the banner of land reform, but did not have the power to impede the new compromise.

The capitalist class and the big landowners were afraid of the insurrection of the masses and renewed their compromise, yet the problem was unresolved. On August 15 of the same year there was a new general strike, 2 million people participated, in the end the capitalist class compromised again, and the question was once again unresolved. In last year's October elections, the most reactionary forces suffered some kind of defeat. The tendency is the isolation of the reactionary forces and the progress of the revolutionary forces. The consciousness of the masses has greatly increased.

I already mentioned that during this election, the position of the national bourgeoisie in the government was strengthened, undisguised U.S. agents were not elected into the parliament. All the candidates of the number one U.S. agent in Brazil [Carlos] Lacerda in the state of Guanabara failed to be elected. The most reactionary candidates from the northeastern state of Pernambuco were also not elected. Miguel Arraes was elected governor of the state. He had been attacked as a communist candidate. The state of Pernambuco is the center of the Northeast, it has influence on other states. The industrialization of this state is the highest in the northeast, and the population is the greatest.

Although we have no illusions with regard to newly elected Arraes, but this definitely is beneficial for our work in the northeast. In the Congress we also organized a nationalist parliamentary front, in which all the party deputies participate. The sides that I just mentioned are all divided into two big groups.

Chairman: Which group does Goulart belong to?

Telles: Goulart says that he belongs to the nationalist parliamentary front but in reality he has contradictions with this front.

Chairman: Doesn't he belong to the labor party?

Telles: He is the leader of the labor party [Partido Trabalhista Brasileiro, PTB; Brazilian Labor Party] but he is not implementing the party program. The labor party program also proposes a thorough land reform and expropriation of imperialist enterprises.

We are currently facing a situation of a struggle between two big groups. The new phenomenon is this: the worker's movement has progressed. The peasant movement has also developed. The united front has also developed. So what's the result? Although we worked very hard, the nationalist capitalist class still holds the power of leadership. It is like a mischievous boy kicking a ball. First he gets the ball out and lets everyone play. Then, just as the ball is being kicked around in a lively fashion, and is about to be kicked into the goal, suddenly he takes the ball away, preventing everyone from finishing the game.

The basic revolutionary force is not sufficiently strong. It can't come in to take the ball. Basically, two factions are contending, possibly leading in the prospect to an extremely big struggle. The party has concluded that it was not sufficiently prepared in the past, that it overestimated the national bourgeoisie, saw the peaceful road as the absolute. Under the circumstances of several instances of sharpening struggle between the two big groups, the party was in no position to exercise control, and made mistakes.

Be it as it may, Brazil's revolutionary force is still developing. The peasant movement is developing. In the last few years, we accumulated forces, promoting the development of the situation. As a result, the two factions' struggle intensified. The force with the leadership power compromised and could not resolve the problem. A new conflict emerged. As for the national capitalist class, the conclusion of the last few years: every time the people rise, they reach a compromise with imperialism. But after compromise, there is still struggle. Where is the weak point? The peasant movement is very weak. The reason is that we underestimated the significance of the peasant movement.

Chairman: In the end, to what group do the national bourgeoisie belong? I am still not clear. If you say they belong to the sell-out group, they still have conflict [with them], if you say that they belong to the people's faction, they still reach compromise with the sell-out group.

Telles: I think the national bourgeoisie still are a part of the national democratic united front. The national bourgeoisie is divided into two factions. One faction capitulates and sells out, the other cooperates with the people.

Chairman: Does this latter part already participate in the government?

Telles: Some do.

Chairman: Is Brizola a typical national capitalist?

Telles: Brizola has always been close to Goulart. But they also have contradictions. Brizola has criticized Goulart's government. Brizola basically represents Rio Grande do Sul's capitalist class but local capitalists are different from capitalists of another place.

The initial rise of the capitalist class of São Paulo was through the export of coffee, cocoa, sugar, and so on. From landowners they became capitalists, so this capitalist class has ties to the land. They are simultaneously large landowners. But in Rio Grande do Sul land was parceled out early into small holdings. The capitalist class developed from the handicraft industry, it has nothing to do with the land.

Chairman: Can one say that Brizola has also ascended the political stage?

Telles: He has prestige at the national level. He was a governor in the past.

Chairman: And now?

Telles: He is no longer a governor. By the Brazilian law, those who have not resigned from governor's posts cannot compete in the gubernatorial elections.  Afterwards, he was elected as a deputy from the State of Guanabara. He received 300,000 votes. In the crisis of August 1961 he gained many people's support.

Chairman: Does he have any relations with you?

Telles: He does. We used to struggle together with him. But we have no illusions. He is Goulart's left arm. He does television broadcasts, which is advantageous for us [check: not clear whether he is in charge of broadcasting or whether he just makes frequent appearances]. Because Brazil's television industry is very developed. Just in Rio de Janeiro there are 600,000 TV sets. In his television speeches his slogans are anti-imperialist and anti-feudal.

Chairman: It's good that you have told me these things today. For now I still cannot voice my opinions because I have not yet seen the documents of your congress of representatives. But I believe that you can find answers in practice. Is the policy right or wrong? Practice will show. China came up a long road. When it started, all it knew was that it wanted revolution. But how to carry out a revolution? Which way to go? This was not clear. We committed mistakes of rightist deviation. We only united with the capitalist class, and did not struggle against them.

One can also say that we committed mistakes of revisionism. We also committed dogmatist mistakes. In 1927 China had a big revolution [sic], at the time there was also a strong worker's movement. Also several tens of millions of peasants were organizing and rising under out leadership. At the time we were not prepared for the treachery of the national bourgeoisie, that is to say, we were not prepared for the treachery of Jiang Jieshi. Therefore, the revolution lost.  

We were forced to take up arms, and fought a 10-year civil war. During the civil war we committed mistakes of leftist deviation three times. Only with the end of the civil war was it possible to correct the mistakes. It was only during the anti-Japanese war that we began to follow a correct party policy. Because after overcoming rightist and leftist mistakes one could sum up the experience, and make the entire party stand united. After Japan's capitulation, Jiang Jieshi attacked us again. We were prepared for it. Not only were we prepared organizationally, but we were prepared militarily. So we beat back Jiang Jieshi's attack. It would be best if you could study China's tortuous road.

Wu: They already prepared to send over ten people. We are ready to systematically introduce China's revolutionary experience to them when they come.

Chairman: If China's experience may be of reference – not just the facade but also the experience of defeats – we can provide it for your reference. The important one is the experience of defeats. Thank you very much for coming to China. You have introduced your conditions to us and also understood our conditions. Thank you, and please pass my greetings to comrade Prestes.

Telles: We will definitely take these greetings with us. I would like to once again express gratitude for the reception we have had while in China. Many of the questions that used to be unclear have now become clear. We are ready to take all of these back with us. Please forgive me for taking so much of your time.

Chairman: Is this your first time in China?

Telles: Yes. But because we have work, we have to go back soon.

Chairman: Later you will have another chance.

(After taking a photo with the foreign guests Chairman Mao and others bid farewell.)






































个妥协的产物。通过妥协,政府越来越巩固自己的地位。这个政府有大庄园主,大资产阶级与民族资产阶级的代表参加,总之是个妥协的产物。最近我们看到新华社的电讯,似乎都整过程又尖锐化了。 陆军部长克鲁埃尔企图把第一军长阿尔维斯解除职务,这个陆军部长同大庄园主有联系,而第一军长则同左派力量有关系,代表民族资产阶级。可以说,资产阶级在政权中的地位在巩固,但还没有完全能够控制。他们想要进一步控制,因此要利用工人阶级的支持,向工人作经济性的让步。当然,这些让步同时也是由于工人阶级本身的斗争促成的。





















































































































现在我们的年青人,革命时才多大,现在的大学生,那时也不过七八岁,不知道过去的困难,没经历过阶级斗争锻炼,要靠老一辈的人把过去的经历告诉他们。 (对翻译)你今年几岁?(翻译答:三十二岁。)解放时才十八岁。(又问在座的伍,江,李,杨等年龄后)教育青年要靠他们四位,而不能靠他(指翻译)。青年人没有经历过