The Chargé in Argentina (Cabot) to the Secretary of State

No. 1213

Sir: With reference to despatch No. 1126 of October 22, file No. 891, entitled “Termination of Cable Censorship”,38 I have the honor to report two situations which have developed recently in the cable companies which constitute a continuation of Government censorship.

An authorized inspector of the Argentine Post Office has been making periodical calls ever since October 15 at both cable companies in order to read copies of all outgoing messages, except for coded messages from the American Embassy. At the Western Cable Company the inspector calls at 7 a.m. every day and at All America Cables and Radio, Inc. every second or third day at varying hours.

The manager and the representative, respectively, of the two companies state that this inspection commenced years ago and was interrupted only during the recent period of censorship, the termination of which was reported in the despatch of above reference. The chief purpose of this inspection is to ascertain whether the various rates of charge are being enforced. At the same time, obviously, the inspector is able to read all press dispatches. For years past each cable and wireless company had been paying 800 pesos per month to defray these costs, but recently they have been paying three-quarters of one percent of the gross income, in quarterly periods. The American company decided to discontinue these payments at the beginning of the last quarter, on October 1, at which time it filed a written protest, drafted by legal advisors. The British company made no such protest. Mr. J. Y. Cowie, manager of the Western Cable Company, provides the inspector with a desk and typewriter. Mr. A. H. Annand, representative of All America Cables and Radio, Inc. gives him no conveniences.

On October 19 the Post Office refused to accept several messages which had been filed by American press correspondents with Press Wireless. Perhaps as a consequence of having reviewed these press dispatches, which were certainly harmful to the prestige of the Argentine Government, insofar as they reported certain recent acts of the Government which were definitely fascistic in nature, the Post Office summoned the responsible officers of all communication companies to a special meeting at noon on October 20. The officers were reminded of the provisions of Article 30 of the Cable Act of 1875 and told that they would be held responsible for its enforcement. They were also ordered [Page 526] to submit Spanish translations of all press dispatches. This meeting was clearly an act of intimidation.

On October 24 All America Cables and Radio, Inc. received a telephone call from the Post Office requesting these Spanish translations, which they had not yet sent. Although translations had been required under decree No. 132,935 of October 8, 1942 the provisions of which had been incorporated into decree No. 137,500 of December 2, 1942, they were discontinued on October 15, 1945, when the above mentioned decrees were annulled by decree No. 24,958 of October 10, 1945, as reported in reference mentioned in the first paragraph above. All America Cables complied with the request of October 24 by sending translations of five or six press dispatches, within the following few days, but none since then. The Western Cable Company, it is believed, submits them daily.

It has been learned that both of the cable companies send copies of all press dispatches which they fear might be considered inconsistent with the cable law, for revision by the Post Office. In almost every such case the Post Office advises that the dispatch is “inconvenient” and it is therefore censored.

The Embassy has pointed out to the All America Cables and Radio, Inc. that if the latter submits to any inconvenience or demand which is not required by law, for example, the submission of Spanish translations of press dispatches, the Embassy can do nothing about it, whereas it would be prepared to back the Company if the latter refuses to submit to unlawful demands.

Respectfully yours,

John M. Cabot
  1. Not printed.