835.00/2275: Telegram

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

149. The action you have taken as outlined in your telegrams 201 and 205, January 4 [24] meets with the complete approval of the Department.

The Department welcomes the forthcoming rupture of relations between Argentina and Germany as of considerable military advantage in as much as Germany will thus have one less means of conducting espionage, sabotage, and subversive activities in this hemisphere. It is for this reason that the action contemplated with respect to Argentina has been deferred.

The Department takes note of the fact that the contemplated Argentine action does not represent the fulfillment by Argentina of its inter-American commitments, although it does indicate that Argentina has belatedly realized the dangerous nature of the Axis activities which made necessary the adoption of those commitments by all the republics and their execution by all except Argentina.

The break in relations with the Axis, however, cannot in itself be expected to alter the Department’s program designed (1) to hinder pro-Axis activities in Argentina and (2) to discourage anti-Allied movements in neighboring countries with Argentine and Axis support, unless the recent “discovery” of the Argentine Government that an extensive spy ring has been operating in that country under the auspices of the German Embassy results in a complete reorientation of Argentine policy toward the Axis, with a consequent identification of that policy with that followed by the other American republics.

The Department believes that the Argentine Government should realize that it can only demonstrate that a real reorientation of policy has taken place through the taking of the following steps supplementing the break with Germany and Japan:

The Argentine Government itself, or at least influential persons and groups within the Government, has stimulated and assisted movements aiming to subvert neighboring governments friendly to the Allied cause and to replace them with governments enjoying Axis [Page 239] support. In the event of rupture of relations by Argentina with the Axis, these activities would become more serious than the underground work of the Nazis themselves.
The full results of the Argentine investigations into the recently discovered spy ring would be of great value to our intelligence services and to those of our Allies. It is our belief that full disclosure of this data would implicate persons high in the Argentine Government. The readiness, therefore, of the Argentine Government to make available this information would be a real test of the good faith of that Government.
Following the break of relations, energetic action by the Argentine Government to prevent the Axis diplomats and officials from carrying on any harmful activities pending the prompt conclusion of arrangements for their exchange.
Since Germany and Japan will immediately endeavor to carry on harmful activities through other channels, the Argentine Government should act vigorously to extirpate these channels, as otherwise the closing of the diplomatic missions will be valueless.
In addition to Axis-directed activities, pro-Axis Argentine individuals and groups have been working in close cooperation with Axis-controlled activities. The Argentine Government should take energetic and effective steps to stop these activities.
We would expect full implementation of the Rio and Washington resolutions30 with regard to economic and financial controls.
Complete severance of all telecommunications with Germany and Japan.

Although we attach importance to action with regard to each one of the foregoing points, the extent of reorientation of Argentine policy will be gauged here to a considerable extent by developments with respect to points 1 and 2.

We judge from your telegrams referred to that you have covered in part the Department’s point of view as elaborated. We desire you to make certain that our attitude is understood immediately, so that there will be no misunderstandings later, once rupture of diplomatic relations has taken place. At the same time, since rupture of relations has definite military advantage we must leave to your discretion the degree to which you can emphasize the Department’s attitude without jeopardizing the possibility of rupture. You can tell better than we whether you can cover in one conversation all of the abovementioned points or whether in order not to produce an adverse reaction you should cover some of them in separate conversations. We incline to think that it would be desirable for you to go over the ground directly with the President at the earliest suitable opportunity.

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It is believed that similar representations on the part of your British, Brazilian, and Chilean colleagues would be of special value. We are communicating with their respective Foreign Offices about this.

With reference to the tanker Buenos Aires mentioned in your 201 of January 24, the Department is not disposed to review its earlier negative decision pending further developments indicative of Argentina’s real intention to cooperate in hemisphere security matters.

  1. For text of the Washington resolutions, see Pan American Union, Congress and Conference Series No. 39: Final Act of the Inter-American Conference on Systems of Economic and Financial Control (Washington, 1942); for correspondence concerning the conference held in Washington, June 30–July 10, 1942, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. v, pp. 58 ff.