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

No. 15031

Sir: I have the honor to refer to previous communications with reference to the difficulties being encountered by All America Cables in its relations with the Argentine Government (particularly the Embassy’s despatch no. 14,845 of May 23, 1944,82 reporting the details of the company’s most recent experience of this kind), and to report as of interest to the Department the essence of a conversation with the manager of All America in which he explained the company’s present position with regard to the censorship problem.

Following the episode described in the despatch cited above, Mr. Buchanan says that he called on Major Horacio Sirito (who, it will be recalled, is the special “investigating” officer in the Post Office who has been responsible for the recent unpleasant developments) in an effort to reach a more satisfactory understanding with reference to the censorship of incoming and outgoing messages and All America’s responsibility for the delivery or transmission of such messages. It was pointed out to Major Sirito that the “interventors” at present assigned to the company were incapable of properly exercising a complete censorship, both because of their inability to read such foreign languages as English and also because of the volume of messages handled. As a consequence, All America has been forced to accept the responsibility for the messages which it handles, even though theoretically the Government is censoring all messages and holding any which are considered undesirable.

Mr. Buchanan suggested to Major Sirito that the Post Office employ (at All America’s expense) two additional censors who are able to read both Spanish and English and that these censors be authorized to accept full responsibility for any messages which they approve. According to Buchanan, Major Sirito seemed to accept the suggestion with sympathy. A few days later, however, the company was advised informally that its suggestion had been disapproved, that the interventors now assigned to the company would continue their activities as at present, and that they should be considered “advisers” only. In other words, even if an interventor approves a message the company is [Page 407] relieved of no responsibility with regard to its subject matter and its transmission or delivery.

Rather understandably, Mr. Buchanan finds the situation in which he and his company are placed extremely uncomfortable; he has no explicit instructions with reference to the kind of messages the Government considers undesirable, he can consider the Government censors nothing more than “advisers,” and yet he and the company must accept full responsibility in the event the Government at any time decides a specific message should not have been transmitted or delivered. Under these circumstances, he is of the opinion that sooner or later All America will be subjected to further sanctions which may be much more serious than any it has yet experienced.

Respectfully yours,

Norman Armour
  1. Not printed.