740.0011 Pacific War/1415

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

No. 3729

Sir: I have the honor to report that the outbreak of war between the United States and the Axis powers has created a pronounced reaction in Argentina in favor of the United States. The fact that war came as a result of Japanese aggression, and particularly the treacherous nature of that aggression, has undoubtedly been a principal factor in the exceptionally strong reaction which has made itself manifest in all levels of Argentine society.

I have already had occasion to refer in various telegrams to the reaction of the press, which, excepting of course such pro-Nazi organs as El Pampero, has been decidedly outspoken in support of the United States and in favor of full cooperation by Argentina in the common task of defending America. The Department is also, of course, aware of the personal messages addressed to President Roosevelt by the Acting President, by President Ortiz, and by such prominent Argentines [Page 64] as former Presidents Dr. Marcelo T. de Alvear and General Agustín P. Justo, the President of the “Círculo de la Prensa”, Jorge Artayeta, and the well-known lawyer, Angel Sánchez Elía. General Justo also called in person at my office.

I believe that the Department will be interested to know that since the Japanese aggression on December 7 the Embassy has received literally hundreds of messages of friendship, encouragement and support from people in every walk of life in this country. Many of these messages have been delivered to me personally, others have been received in letters and telegrams. The sentiments expressed in all of them have been the same: horror and disgust at the treacherous Japanese attack, expressions of friendship and solidarity toward the United States, and frequently offers of personal cooperation in any way possible.

Among the distinguished Argentines from whom messages have been received, in addition to those already noted, I may mention Monsignor Franceschi, who called the day following the Japanese attack; Dr. Julio A. Roca, who called personally at my residence; Dr. Jorge Mitre, owner of La Nación; Señor Alberto Gainza Paz, nephew of Dr. Ezequiel Paz, owner of La Prensa; Dr. José Luis Cantilo, and other members of the delegation of Argentine Deputies who have recently returned from the United States, all of whom have called upon me within the last few days; Dr. Enrique Gil; Dr. Guillermo E. Leguizamón, President of the Southern Railway; Dr. Federico Pinedo; Dr. Dimas Gonzalez Gowland, Dean of the Faculty of Law and Social Sciences of the University of Buenos Aires; Dr. Patrón Costas, President of the Senate; General Guillermo J. Lohr, former Inspector General of the Army; Colonel Zanni, Chief of the Army Air Corps; Colonel José Francisco Suárez, Secretary of the Minister of War; Senator Ricardo Caballero; Dr. Nicanor Sarmiento, President of the Academia Americana de la Historia; Dr. José Arce, Dean of the Medical School of the University of Buenos Aires; and the Minister of Finance, Dr. Acevedo. Expressions of solidarity and support for the United States have come from the owners and editors of the leading newspapers of Buenos Aires and a number of provincial cities; from officials of the Foreign Office and other Government Ministries; from the clergy; from cultural, professional, artistic and educational organizations and associations; from labor unions; from distinguished members of the medical and legal professions; and from officers of the Army and Navy. To all of these spontaneous messages of friendship and support, I have sought to give a prompt and adequate response.

There are a number of features of particular significance worth noting in connection with this unusual demonstration of solidarity and friendship with the United States.

[Page 65]
Immediately after the Japanese aggression, the Embassy began to receive a considerable number of inquiries from persons desiring to enlist in the armed forces of the United States. Other inquiries have been received regarding the possibility of serving as technicians in one capacity or another in our war industries.
The attitude of Argentine Army, Navy, and Air Force officers in general seems to have undergone a transformation. The Military and Taval Attachés of the Embassy as well as the Chief of our Military Air Mission, Lieutenant Colonel Deerwester, and of our Special Naval Mission, Captain Metz, have all been impressed by the numerous manifestations of solidarity which they have received. Captain Metz, who is acting as advisor at the Naval War College, reports that 7 of the 17 members of the staff and student officers of the War College have personally expressed to him their enthusiastic support of the United States. The attitude of the members as a whole, with the exception of one officer notoriously pro-Nazi, has undergone a radical change in favor of United States. Lieutenant Colonel Deerwester has submitted a memorandum to me describing the reactions which he has observed among the officers of the Argentine Army Air Force following the Japanese attack upon the United States, which indicates a similar trend. A copy of this memorandum is enclosed.17
The attitude of Monsignor Franceschi is highly significant in view of his position and influence in Church circles. Monsignor Franceschi telephoned on the morning of December 8 to express his sincerest regrets and sympathy at the aggression directed against the United States by Japan, and to wish us every success in the task that lies before us. (As stated above, he also called on me later when he expressed the same sentiments in person.) In the weekly edition of the Catholic review Criterio on December 11, there appeared a leading article by Monsignor Franceschi entitled “The Japanese Aggression”, which is particularly important. Copies of this edition of Criterio are enclosed.17 As the Department is aware, Monsignor Franceschi recently accepted an invitation from the National Catholic Welfare Council to visit the United States next spring. (Cf. despatch No. 3573, November 27, 1941.17)
The popular attitude is graphically illustrated by that observed by a member of my staff in several of the leading coffee shops of Buenos Aires on the evening of December 8. In each of these the national anthems of the United States, Great Britain and Argentina were played by the orchestras to the accompaniment of loud cheers and cries of “Viva los Aliados”. The playing of the Argentine national anthem in coffee shops is itself rare except on national holidays.
The attitude of the conservative elements in the country, which as a whole has been the least sympathetic to the democratic cause and most favorable to the application of totalitarian methods in Argentina, apparently has been altered to some extent. This is indicated by the messages which have been received from prominent conservatives such as the President of the Senate, Dr. Patrón Costas, who in the past has not been regarded as particularly friendly toward the United States.
[Page 66]

I am enclosing a memorandum18 of an interesting conversation which I had with Admiral Guizazola, Chief of the Naval General Staff, at a luncheon today at the Naval War College, which casts some further light on the attitude of Argentine Naval Officers toward the war between the United States and Japan.

As already indicated at the beginning of this despatch, the fact that it was Japan, rather than Germany or Italy, which attacked the United States, together with the infamous manner of the attack, has undoubtedly been a principal factor in the strong reaction in favor of the United States observed in Argentina. With the declaration of war by Germany and Italy against the United States, some cooling off in Argentine enthusiasm for our cause may be expected, and has indeed already been observed. Nevertheless, the views expressed by Monsignor Franceschi in his article in the enclosed copy of Criterio, may be taken as an encouraging indication of a growing appreciation on the part of conservative elements in Argentina that no distinction can be made between the methods or aims of the different members of the Axis.

Respectfully yours,

Norman Armour
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Not printed.