740.00111 A.R./1215

The Ambassador in Argentina (Armour) to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Dear Sumner: I have sent off my reply67 to your telegram68 received this morning to the effect that we cannot agree to give approval to the Argentine Government’s proposed change in the Uruguayan draft note, even though not to be used.

Cantilo accepted it with pretty good grace. He … assured me he realized that unity was the great thing, particularly at this time, and that what he and the President especially desired was to keep step with us. He wished at times we could make this a little easier. He realized, however, that we had our difficulties, although he thought perhaps we did not always appreciate theirs to the full. He showed me a poster they had just confiscated, several thousand of which had been printed, demanding in big red letters the resignation of Cantilo because of his alleged attempt to bring Argentina into the war through his stand on non-belligerency.69 The poster called on all Argentines to stand firm for neutrality and for keeping out of war. This was, Cantilo said, of course Nazi-inspired.

I have no doubt that what he had in mind was that had we been able to support their proposal in principle—that is, a strengthening of the Uruguayan text—this would have helped the Government here, particularly Dr. Ortiz69a and himself, in a somewhat difficult situation they are facing in the pro-Nazi group which appears to be making some gains due to the very effective German propaganda directed by the German Embassy and the unlimited funds the latter seem to have at their disposal apparently through levies on German firms and members of the German community.

Dr. Ortiz is, I think, becoming really worried both by the internal situation as well as what would be in store for them in the event of a German victory in Europe. I see this reflected in Cantilo who in his calmer moments seems at last convinced of the necessity of cooperating more closely with us.

[Page 740]

In this connection he asked me particularly to give you a message. He said that he feels that many in the United States do not understand Argentina and incorrectly interpret their attitude as unfriendly to the United States. He admitted that in the past, at any rate, there may have been justification for this feeling. He feels sure that you do understand them and appreciate their difficulties. He also feels, however, that you may still have in mind the Saavedra Lamas70 days but hopes you will realize that those days are now gone, not to return. He was in Rome, far from the scene of action, when Saavedra Lamas took his stand on our proposed lease of destroyers to Brazil,71 a position which he quite understood must have irritated you—justly—beyond measure. All he asks now is to cooperate with us: to keep in step with us: and if the worst comes to the worst and we are forced into the war, he wants his country to be shoulder to shoulder with us. To be sure, their assistance from a material point of view would perhaps not prove very effective, but he does feel the moral effect at any rate might be worth quite a little. There was more along these lines but this is the gist of what he had to say. …

May I suggest, if not too much trouble to you, that you might write him a personal line, saying that you have received this message from me of his desire to work closely with us and to keep Argentina in step with our Government on the larger questions in which we are all so vitally interested. I know this would be greatly appreciated and I feel sure it would have a good effect.

Incidentally, as evidence of one of the smaller points of difficulty, he mentioned earlier in his conversation this morning our Government’s selling subsidized wheat and corn abroad, making it increasingly difficult for Argentina to dispose of its large surplus crops, particularly corn.72 I do not know whether there is anything that you can do, perhaps through Wallace,73 or whether this is a matter which has come to your attention through Espil.74 But could anything be done or perhaps some explanation be given as to the necessity leading to our action in this respect, I think this might have a good effect.

I hope I have not bothered you too much during these last days by my telephone calls. I know how frightfully busy and anxious you must be with the grim events in Europe apparently becoming worse and worse and hope you will forgive these interruptions.

With all good wishes,

Always sincerely yours,

Norman Armour
  1. Receipt date not indicated.
  2. Telegram No. 147, May 17, 5 p.m., p. 738.
  3. No. 73, May 16, 6 p.m., p. 736.
  4. See section entitled “Argentine Proposal That the American Republics Declare They Cease To Be Neutrals and Announce They Have Become Nonbelligerents,” pp. 743 ff.
  5. Roberto M. Ortiz, President of Argentina.
  6. Carlos Saavedra Lamas, former Argentine Minister for Foreign Affairs.
  7. See Foreign Relations, 1937, vol. v, pp. 149 ff.
  8. See vol. v , section under Argentina entitled “Negotiations for a Proposed Marketing Agreement Between the United States and Argentina.”
  9. Henry A. Wallace, Secretary of Agriculture.
  10. Felipe A. Espil, Argentine Ambassador in the United States.