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

No. 10,693

Sir: Referring to Embassy’s despatch No. 10,692 of June 23, 1943,80 and in connection with the execution of the quota system therein recommended, I have the honor to report that the Embassy recommends that all information reported to the Department in connection with the distribution of newsprint be considered as confidential and that the responsibility for rationing the Argentine press be held in Washington and Ottawa as rationing by the American Embassy in Buenos Aires would not be acquiesced in by the Argentine Government. The Embassy has been informing all newspapers that the American and Canadian Governments are seeking to treat all newspapers equitably in these abnormal times and are therefore allocating a certain percentage of Canadian newsprint for which shipping space is available to each newspaper in accordance with its past consumption and that the action is taken in Washington and Ottawa.

However, the Embassy recently received a telegram from José W. Agusti, director of Noticias Graficas who was at the time in Washington, stating that he had been informed by an official of the American Government that the Embassy had reported that Noticias Graficas needed only 200 tons of newsprint monthly. He asked that this “misinformation” be corrected. The position of this Embassy would be much firmer if the interested parties asking information in Washington were informed that the control of the shipments of newsprint was in the hands of the American and Canadian authorities in Washington and Ottawa. In the event that the officials in Washington find it necessary to divulge certain information regarding quota allotments, the interested parties might better be informed that their quota is a percentage of the total newsprint sent to Argentina from the United States, based on past importations and after consultation with local importers, rather than informing that the allotment of a certain [Page 413] newspaper is “x” tons. For example, La Prensa, based on past importations, receives 20% of the total shipments sent to Argentina; El Día of La Plata gets 1.8%; Noticias Graficas 4.6%. Such information, of course, should only be given in cases where it is absolutely necessary to do so and only the figure corresponding to the particular paper in question should be given.

The Embassy would also like to point out to the Department the possibility that information supplied by competitors in an attempt to obtain increased allotments may be fallacious, as for instance, the Embassy was informed that an official in Washington had stated that El Mundo was the only newspaper in Argentina which had not cooperated in making economies. Up to and including 1941, El Mundo had the largest circulation of any Spanish-language newspaper in the world. When it became evident to the directors of El Mundo, when the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, that shipping would be diverted to war fronts, El Mundo cut its circulation in half by raising its price from 5 centavos to 10 centavos per copy. El Mundo reduced its consumption of newsprint by 50% in 1942 and was the first newspaper in Argentina to economize, making greater economies than any other newspaper has made to date.

Another matter which has caused some difficulty is that certain newspapers have been successful, through influence with the Argentine Government, in obtaining extra shipping space aboard the Flota Mercante, apart from the 2500 tons per month which is distributed among the various importers. Several newspapers have stated that the Argentine Government, seeking to ingratiate itself with the press, is disposed to be generous in granting additional space. There has been no concrete evidence, however, of such a disposition. The Embassy recommends that all space that is granted be utilized for shipping of newsprint but in the event that shipments are increased above 5,000 tons per month, that the quota of all newspapers be increased proportionately instead of permitting a favored few to obtain all the additional space. However, the Embassy sees no objection to certain newspapers being allowed to ship slightly higher amounts than their quota for a month or two providing that the difference is made up in ensuing months.

The Embassy believes that if it is possible, it would be advisable to ship the newsprint quota to each newspaper monthly. If, however, any newspaper is unable to receive shipment during any given month, it should be entitled to receive double its quota in the following month.

The Embassy recommends that a monthly allotment of 40 tons of newsprint in sheets, and 55 tons in rolls, be allotted to Serra Hnos., local representatives for American Paper Export, for distribution to numerous small clients; 60 tons of newsprint in rolls be allotted [Page 414] to J. Wassermann y Cía., local representative for St. Maurice Valley, for distribution among their numerous small clients; 50 tons of newsprint in sheets to be shipped to National Paper & Type; and 30 tons of newsprint in sheets to Stocker & Co. for their small clients in the interior of the country.

In addition to the above allotments, the Department is aware that the Flota Mercante has allotted 250 of the 2500 tons of shipping space to Iturrat. The Embassy receives the cooperation of the above firm and receives a monthly list of all sales made by this company. Iturrat has not been allocated a quota, however, in view of the fact that this company has only recently entered this business.

It would be of inestimable value to this Embassy to receive notification of all shipments of newsprint aboard all ships leaving the United States for Argentina, listing the ultimate consignees aboard each ship. Should shipments of newsprint to Argentina be maintained on the quota system, the Embassy believes that it will do much to solve this very troublesome problem.

The Embassy wishes to express its appreciation for the Department’s cooperation and special attention in the matter of the handling of the newsprint situation.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Merwin L. Bohan

Counselor for Economic Affairs
  1. Not printed; in this despatch a survey of the paper needs was given and quotas recommended for each newspaper based upon a percentage of its normal requirements (800.8830/2423).