Memorandum of Conversation, by the Counselor of Embassy (Ray)11

Participants: President Perón
Ambassador James Bruce
Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister of Marine Anadon
Guy Ray, Counselor of Embassy

Following the brief ceremony of presentation of credentials, President Perón invited the Ambassador12 and the Counselor together with the Acting Foreign Minister, Sr. Anadon, to a separate room for a conversation. The Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs was present but took no part in the conversation. Ambassador Bruce expressed his pleasure at being appointed as American Ambassador in Buenos Aires and his confidence that President Perón and he would be able to establish very friendly personal relations and that they would be able to accomplish much in the interest of the two countries.

President Perón emphasized his desire to cooperate with the United States and remarked that to his mind it was not so much a question of friendship between the two countries as a matter of self-interest. He added that there was really no such thing as lasting friendship between two countries and that friendship usually lasted only as long as there was no direct conflict of interests. The point he wanted to make, he said, was that it was in the interest of Argentina and the United [Page 284] States to work together. Perón said that he had been accused of favoring government ownership of business but that such, was far from being the case. It was true that he believed in government ownership of public utilities, but he was a great believer in private enterprise which should have control of commerce, industry, and manufacturing.…

. . . . . . .

Perón referred in particular to oil production in Argentina and the current gasoline shortage. He said that he believed Standard of New Jersey and the other American companies now understood the situation and were willing to deal fairly with the Argentine. He added, however, that Standard had taken such an attitude several years ago that there was still a bad taste in the mouths of many Argentines and conversations with congressional leaders had convinced him that it would be impossible for him to get the Argentine Congress to adopt a law which would permit foreign companies (i.e. American companies) to carry out explorations dealings and the development of Argentina’s petroleum resources. Ambassador Bruce pointed out that it is very important to increase petroleum resources in the Western Hemisphere and said he hoped an agreement could be reached whereby we could assist in the further development of Argentina’s petroleum resources and furnish machinery as well as lending technical assistance. Perón said this was very necessary, expressing the opinion that it would be feasible for Argentina to produce at least ten times as much petroleum as it is producing at the present. He said that petroleum exists in the Argentine from Tierra del Fuego northwards to Neuquen and then on through Mendoza and up as far as Salta. He indicated that he had had recent conversations with the leading American oil companies here, and that while some progress had been made, they had not reached a satisfactory arrangement as yet. Ambassador Bruce said that he would be glad to study this question and as soon as possible discuss it frankly with the President and render any possible assistance. Perón said that he hoped the Ambassador would do so and that he believed with good will on both sides, which he knew to exist, it would be possible to work out a satisfactory solution. Perón referred to the possibility of armed hostilities in the future and said that in such an event, the present petroleum supply in the Western Hemisphere would not be adequate and that it is imperative that oil production be substantially increased, not only in Argentina but in some of the other countries.

. . . . . . .

Guy W. Ray
  1. Transmitted, to the Department in despatch 2924, August 27, Buenos Aires; received September 5.
  2. Ambassador James Bruce, who succeeded Ambassador George S. Messersmith, assumed his duties in Buenos Aires on Augut 21, 1947.