The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in Argentina (Messersmith)
Sir: Reference is made to your despatch no. 1779–A of January 31, 1947 entitled “Final Disposition of Enemy Property in Argentina”. In view of the terms of the April 8 statement of policy, the Department wishes to be absolutely certain that the act of promulgating decree no. 1921 of January 24 amounts to something more than a written promise to purchase Axis property at sometime in the future—that all of the steps necessary to convert the decree into reality have actually been taken.
The Department understands from your reports that the enemy property decree contemplates:
- that the full and complete enemy titles to the spearhead firms will first be firmly and unconditionally placed in the Argentine Government which undertakes that the interests purchased will not be returned or sold to the former enemy owners; and
- that the Argentine Government, as the full owner of the enemy interests, will then establish procedures for dealing with questions of evaluation, compensation, operation and sale.
Please advise the Department promptly if this understanding of the decree and its operation and effect are incorrect in any particular.
In respect of foregoing paragraph (a), the Department would be pleased to receive a report on the precise steps which must be taken before the decree is implemented in the sense that the full and complete enemy titles to spearhead firms are firmly and unconditionally placed in the State. Presumably, the actual deposits of the purchase money are required and there may be other legal requirements such as registration which may be regarded as conditions precedent to the unconditional passing of title.[Page 180]
Further in respect of foregoing paragraph (a), the Department is conducting a study of the lists of business enterprises listed in your despatch34 which are to be brought under the terms of the new Argentine Enemy Property Decree in order to determine whether there is adequate coverage of spearhead firms.
To the extent that the steps outlined in paragraph (b) above are carried out in a manner which is consistent with Argentina’s Inter-American commitments, the Department agrees that these steps are internal Argentine matters.
Very truly yours,