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

No. 14326

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Embassy’s No. 846 of March 27, 9 p.m.,71 as well as to previous communications with reference to the recent suspension of All America Cables, and to forward for the Department’s files copies and translations of the resolution71 providing for the suspension as well as of the cables which motivated the action.

According to the local manager of All America Cables, on March 10, 1944 he received a letter from the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, Major Estéban Oscar Piciochi, advising him of the unauthorized delivery to United Press on March 8 of three cables from Lima (the three cables were all part of one newspaper dispatch). On March 14 Mr. Buchanan, the All America manager, replied to Major Piciochi explaining that the delivery of the cables in question was an inadvertent error on the part of an All America employee and stating his regret that it had happened. This was the last Mr. Buchanan heard of the affair until the morning of March 24 when, upon his arrival at the office, he found the official notice of the 24-hour suspension and [Page 399] the 1,000 Argentine peso fine mentioned in the Embassy’s telegram No. 815.72

Mr. Buchanan immediately arranged an interview with Major Piciochi, who advised him that the decision had been made by someone much “higher up”, that he had done everything possible to avoid signing the order, that he was very sorry it had happened but that there was nothing he could do. Mr. Buchanan then called on Lt. Col. Juan A. Lagos, the Director General of Posts and Telegraphs, who advised him that he knew nothing about the matter but that Mr. Buchanan might like to talk to Major Horacio A. Sirito (Major Sirito’s position in the Postoffice appears to be that of a more or less ex officio inspector). In accordance with this suggestion, an interview with Major Sirito was arranged for Saturday morning. According to Mr. Buchanan, Major Sirito’s attitude was extremely belligerent and unpleasant, but he finally agreed to consider at least the postponement of the sanction. An hour or so after Mr. Buchanan had left Major Sirito’s office, Major Sirito called by telephone to advise him that the suspension would continue.

Mr. Buchanan and other officials of All America Cables and its parent company, International Telephone and Telegraph, are of the opinion that the Postoffice authorities have chosen this method of attack, not because they feel that the infraction of the censorship regulations was a serious one, but merely because (1) they are anxious to embarrass an American company in whatever way possible, and (2) because they hoped that this Embassy would be drawn into the matter to the extent of making an official protest and, in that manner, recognizing the Argentine Government. In support of his feeling that the charge against All America is a trumped up one, Mr. Buchanan points out that although in the resolution, which itself is dated March 23, reference is made to a warning which had supposedly been given All America on March 17 (and which Mr. Buchanan says was not received), the violation actually occurred on March 8. In other words, it would appear from the resolution that the violation which was the cause for the suspension occurred after All America had been warned, whereas, actually, it occurred more than a week before this alleged warning. Further evidence of the unfriendly and highhanded nature of the action is the reference in the preamble of the resolution to Resolution XL of the Rio Conference,73 a reference which is patently inappropriate and could be designed only to “rub salt in the wound”. Also, the fact that the newspaper dispatch in question [Page 400] merely reported an editorial which had already appeared in a Lima newspaper (and which, in itself, is fairly innocuous) would have seemed to offer better cause for a protest to the Peruvian Government than for action against the cable company which received the message. As a matter of fact, the Peruvian Ambassador in Buenos Aires has shown considerable interest in the matter and has secured copies of the cables from this Embassy, presumably for transmission to his Foreign Office.

In connection with the conviction of All America and I. T. T. officials that this present event is merely part of a concerted campaign, it may be significant that at least four actions which might be termed “unfriendly” to United States interests during the past few weeks have been taken by the Ministry of Interior, which is headed by—as the Department is aware—General Luis C. Perlinger (the Department will recall from various communications the status of General Perlinger with reference to Argentine-United States relations). The four actions which I have in mind are: (1) the suspension of Associated Press and United Press radiocommunications with Uruguay; (2) the indefinite suspension of all activities of United Press in Argentina; (3) the 24-hour suspension of All America Cables, and (4) the 1,000 Argentine peso fine of Pan American Grace Airways for receipt and transmission of “private” radiocommunications. This latter action is being reported in a separate despatch. However, I am not inclined to agree with the All America and I. T. T. officials that these activities on the part of General Perlinger and the Ministry of the Interior are designed to provoke representations by the Embassy and consequent recognition. Rather, in view of the dissension between General Perlinger and Colonel Perón, I would be more inclined to believe that they represent an effort on the part of General Perlinger to widen the breach between Argentina and the United States and to enforce the conviction that any rapprochement with the United States is impossible.

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Respectfully yours,

Norman Armour
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Supra.
  4. Resolution “XL dealt with communications; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, February 7, 1942, p. 140; for correspondence on the Third Meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics held at Rio de Janeiro, January 15–28, 1942, see Foreign Relations, 1942, vol. v, pp. 6 ff.