Memorandum on the Argentine Problem95


Does the government of General Farrell95a merit the confidence of the American republics which are collaborating in the war effort?

An answer to this question requires, in the first instance, an analysis of the international problem with which the American republics are confronted as the result of Argentina’s policy. The essence of this problem is Axis power in Argentina. The analysis therefore evaluates the degree and scope of that power as it developed and spread prior to Argentina’s break in relations with Germany and Japan. Against the background of this analysis, the record of the Farrell government is examined to determine whether that government has taken the action necessary to resolve the problem in the common interest of the American republics.

It is the conclusion of the study that the present government of Argentina does not merit the confidence of the American republics which are collaborating in the war effort.

The irresistible effect of the evidence is doubt and mistrust regarding the international objectives and policies of the Farrell government. It is not denied that in recent months there have been indications of a growing willingness to cooperate. However, until sustained and sincere conduct over a period of time dispels real doubt and mistrust, until such conduct inspires a spirit of genuine confidence throughout the Americas, there can and should be no change in the policy toward the government of General Farrell.

Although the study places major emphasis upon the extent of Nazi power exercised in Argentina and upon the failure of the Farrell government [Page 449] to adopt and enforce the drastic measures essential to the control and destruction of that power, careful consideration is also given to the character of the regime independently of the problem of direct Axis activity. This treatment is responsive to the view that it is the combination of undiminished widespread Axis influence and a totalitarian regime closely patterned on Fascist lines which has aggravated the problem with which the American republics are concerned.


Elements of the Problem

The character of the total Axis attack on this Hemisphere—political, economic, psychological, and military—is too well known to require detailed restatement. The challenge of this total attack was met by almost all of the American republics acting together to defend their common heritage of liberty by means of the comprehensive defense program unanimously adopted at the Third Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

At the time when her sister republics were vigorously proceeding against Axis influence wherever that influence was found, Argentina’s “neutrality” policy and her conception of the agreements of Rio de Janeiro enabled the strongest center of Axis power in this Hemisphere to consolidate and strengthen its position.

The present international situation of Argentina with respect to other American republics is the direct consequence of the position which successive governments of that country have taken toward those inter-American agreements which constitute the basis for the defense of the continent.

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Position of Government of United States on Certain Fundamental Aspects of Argentine Problem

(1) Proposal for Stipulation of Conditions.

It has been suggested from time to time that the American Republics should stipulate conditions or terms, compliance with which would lead to recognition of the Farrell government. It has been the consistently maintained position of the Government of the United States that the Farrell regime is, and always has been, well aware of the actions that would be necessary to comply with Argentina’s inter-American commitments and to align it in good faith with the other nations of America. The Farrell government is also aware that this is a matter of sustained conduct and not mere promises, of substance [Page 450] and not of form. We have repeatedly maintained that a formula is unnecessary where the desire to collaborate is sincere; where there is no such desire, a formula becomes an invitation to go through a mere formality.

(2) Refusal to Establish Normal Relations and the Doctrine of Nonintervention.

The view has occasionally been advanced that the refusal of the overwhelming majority of the American republics to maintain relations with the Farrell government constitutes intervention in the affairs of the Argentine nation. This contention overlooks completely the fact that the exclusive basis for the policy of the American republics is their concern with the international conduct of the Farrell government. The collective action of the American family of nations has been responsive to the needs of the common defense of the Americas at a crucial moment of their history. Neither this Government nor any other American republic has suggested that this collective emergency action should be employed in time of peace to induce domestic or internal action beyond the competence of the family of nations.

(3) Argentine Sovereignty and Compliance with Inter-American Agreements.

Time and again responsible officials of the Farrell government have taken the position that any suggestion, from any source, that the government should implement the break of relations in accordance with inter-American commitments must be resisted as an attempt at external pressure and therefore derogatory to the national prestige and sovereignty. These officials have maintained that if the Farrell government were to fulfill the obligations contracted at the Meetings of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, there would be grounds for the belief that such action was taken under the pressure of foreign powers. The weakness of this contention becomes manifest in face of the fact that the obligations in question were freely entered into by all the American republics without real or implied loss of sovereignty and have been carried out by all except Argentina. It is our belief that unless we now demonstrate a capacity to develop a tradition of respect for such obligations among civilized nations, there can be little hope for a system of international security, theoretically created to maintain principles for which our peoples are today sacrificing to the limit of their resources.

(4) Hemisphere Unity.

It has been the constant object of this Government, as it has been of all the American governments, to obtain the wholehearted participation of Argentina in the common efforts and councils of the nations of this Hemisphere. But principles for which the free peoples of the [Page 451] world are contributing the full measure of their human and material resources cannot be compromised for the sake of appearance of unity. If Hemisphere unity is to be more than an empty form without real substance, it must be based on action which demonstrates a common purpose, common ideals and a practical spirit of cooperation among both the governments and the peoples of America. Such unity can be achieved only through the conscientious support and active defense of the principles that underlie Hemisphere solidarity as they have been enunciated and put into practice by the American republics which have cooperated in the war effort. There would be grave danger in the creation of a façade of unity behind which hostile forces can work to undermine and destroy everything for which we have been fighting.

  1. This memorandum consists of an over-all statement on the Argentine situation prepared for use of the United States Delegation to the Mexico City Conference held from February 21–March 8, 1945. To the manuscript of this “Statement of the Issue” was appended six exhibits. Each exhibit contained a memorandum, and, in some instances, appendices; the first three memoranda dealt with Axis political, economic, and psychological warfare in Argentina. The remaining three concerned Argentina’s adherence to her agreements with the other American Republics; German plans for post-war perpetuation of power; and the basic nature of the Argentine Government and her international projections within the Western Hemisphere.
  2. Gen. Edelmiro J. Farrell, President of Argentina.