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

No. 4920

Sir: With reference to the Embassy’s telegram no. 760, of April 24, 12 midnight, forwarding the translation of a note received from the Minister for Foreign Affairs on that date with regard to certain proposals of our Government in connection with the furnishing of material for the Argentine Navy under the Lease-Lend Act, I have the honor to transmit herewith a copy, together with translation, of the note in question.34

As stated in my telegram under reference, in a conversation with the Minister for Foreign Affairs on the day previous to the receipt of the note, Dr. Ruiz Guiñazú made the point that in exacting certain obligations relating to the control and protection of shipping as a condition precedent to the supplying of materials under the Lease-Lend Act, our Government was discriminating against Argentina, since a similar condition was not stipulated in the case of the other American Republics which had received or been promised assistance under the Act. I took the position that, far from discriminating against Argentina, I felt that our Government had made an exception in their favor in that the other nations of the continent which had been promised material under the Lease-Lend Act had either declared war against or broken relations with the Axis Powers.

To be sure, agreements with certain of these Governments may have been made prior to the decisions taken at Rio; nevertheless it seemed to me that the principle is clear and that our Government’s proposal to make available certain material to the Argentine Navy under the conditions stipulated cannot be interpreted as discrimination against this country.

In a conversation with the Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs last evening I took this same position with Dr. Gache. To my surprise Dr. Gache stated that his Government felt that our proposals for convoy constituted a more drastic step towards war against the Axis even than the breaking of relations, since use of Argentine war ships for this purpose would inevitably lead to a clash with the Axis. I pointed out to Dr. Gache that the action of the Germans in sinking United States and other vessels carrying much-needed materials for Argentina virtually constituted a blockade of this country and it would seem only logical—aside from this country’s commitments in continental defense—that they should take the necessary steps to [Page 396] assure the safe delivery of materials essential to this country’s economy. He did not give any indication, however, that the Government was considering any change in its position from that indicated in the note under reference.

I understand, from other sources, that Admiral Sueyro and the naval officers who accompanied him to Washington are very bitter at what they consider to have been the arbitrary action of the State Department in imposing these further conditions at the last moment after they had come to a complete agreement and understanding with our naval authorities on other points which would have made possible the supply of materials required.

Respectfully yours,

Norman Armour
  1. For translation of note, see telegram No. 760, supra.