740.0011 European War 1939/32831: Telegram

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

207. I saw the Foreign Minister this morning for a moment at public funeral for earthquake victims16 and he told me that break in relations has now been set for Thursday morning 9 o’clock.

Late last night Santos Muñoz, Legal Adviser of Foreign Office, called on me at my house and made some interesting revelations. He said thus far President Ramírez, Gilbert and González17 are only members of Government aware of Ramírez’s decision to break. To my expression of surprise that Gilbert should have been so categorical in his statements to me and the British Ambassador, Muñoz assured me that Ramírez and Gilbert have every intention of carrying out their promise and will succeed but there undoubtedly will be a stiff fight. He said it would be of assistance to the Minister if he could have more definite information on action our Government had proposed to take had there not been last minute changes. Muñoz made it clear that they already had a pretty good idea from information received from other American capitals. I told him of the three measures planned for yesterday and allowed him to remain under impression, which [Page 235] he clearly had, that this would merely have been “a beginning.” I also did nothing to correct his impression that action along similar lines had been planned by British. I told Muñoz while I was willing Minister should have this information for background I doubted wisdom of his using it, as Muñoz indicated he might with his colleagues in Cabinet, as it seemed to me this would be doing exactly what Minister himself had wished to avoid, namely, give the impression the Government was taking its action under pressure rather than, as I hoped was the case, because they were now convinced espionage activities were being conducted by Axis on a wide scale.

Muñoz was not clear whether Ramírez would attempt to secure approval of Cabinet first or present them with a fait accompli. He was inclined to former view and thought Cabinet meeting might be held this afternoon or tomorrow. Gilbert’s information of this morning however may indicate that President has decided to act first and fight it out later.

Muñoz told me this morning that certain American Governments have apparently been advised of Government’s intention to break and attributes this to necessity of our Government having had to make some explanation of our last minute change. He said Chilean Ambassador18 had already been informed but Muñoz indicated it was. not Gilbert’s intention to take him and the other American representatives here into his confidence for the moment.

Unfortunately New York Herald Tribune correspondent wired story of break yesterday and UP19 here has already been queried on it. I have not learned correspondent’s source but have of course refused all comment and hope Department will proceed very carefully as I am sure you will agree anything in nature of official confirmation at our end at this moment might prejudice proposed action.

British Ambassador has apparently received information from Halifax20 that we are proposing to present communication to Argentine Government apparently along lines mentioned by Duggan in our telephone conversation yesterday, that break in relations will not be enough unless accompanied by stern action against nationalists and intriguing elements. As you know I am heartily in agreement with this point of view and have stressed it in both my talks with Gilbert who assured me that his Government had every intention of proceeding vigorously against these elements. I do however agree with British Ambassador that in view of my having already stressed this it would be better to wait until Government has acted in breaking relations before making formal representations along these lines.

  1. The earthquake of January 15, 1944, destroyed much of the city of San Juan and caused great loss of life.
  2. Col. Enrique P. González, Chief of the President’s Secretariat and opponent of Col. Juan Domingo Perón, Director of the Department of Labor.
  3. Conrado Ríos Gallardo.
  4. United Press.
  5. Viscount Halifax, British Ambassador in the United States.