The Ambassador in Argentina ( Armour ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 8:12 p.m.]
43. Decree regulating control of press by Subsecretariat of Information and Press summarized in my number 42, 6th55 confirms indications during last few months that Government was moving steadily in direction of complete suppression of freedom of press and utilization of all media of information and publicity for its own propaganda ends. Reference despatch No. 12853, November 19.55
Although present regulations affect most severely the domestic press, they also add further restrictions and complications in operations of foreign news agencies. A projected statute governing employment of all personnel of newspapers, periodicals and news agencies which it is understood is now being prepared on basis of personnel registration provided for in present decree may have particularly serious consequences. As reported in Embassy’s airgram A–1315, November 3055 agitation for such statute including creation of newspapermen’s syndicate has been led by pro-Nazi elements and is strongly advocated by Cabildo and El Pampero. It is understood that Colonel Perón56 is behind this move whereas centralization of press control in Subsecretariat of the Presidency has been sponsored by Colonel Gonzáles,57 Chief of the President’s Secretariat.
The specific provision for control of newspaper advertising by Sub-secretariat of Information and Press is viewed with particular concern by press circles, since it may involve attempt to control distribution [Page 393] of advertising among individual newspapers and in any event will expose papers to most pernicious form of official interference. If carried to extreme, it could involve redistribution of advertising for benefit of such pro-Nazi papers as Cabildo and El Pampero. Language of preamble to present decree indicates one of objectives is to prevent private commercial interests from influencing papers through their advertising.
Taken in conjunction with decrees abolishing political parties and instituting compulsory religious education, which significantly were also approved on same day December 31, these measures are clearly intended to give Government complete control of all means of public expression and to suppress propagation of any ideas contrary to existing authoritarian concepts and policies.
I understand that newspaper representatives are discussing course to be followed in view of these developments. La Prensa and La Nación today each published only one editorial, dedicated to restatement of their determination to follow policies laid down by their founders of presenting the news and expressing their views on basis of truth, honesty and disinterested service of the national interest. La Nación editorial was signed by Luis Mitre as editor and La Prensa editorial is signed “Civis”; normally editorials are anonymous.