Memorandum by Mr. Henry Dearborn of the Division of River Plate Affairs 1


Our Embassy in Buenos Aires has sent us its comments on our relations with Argentina.2 In summary, they are as follows:

The Austral Bloc. It seems unlikely that Argentina will have much success in creating an austral bloc, particularly if we succeed in strengthening the inter-American system. The Argentine desire to dominate its section of Latin America is traditional; but Paraguay and Bolivia probably harbor more distrust than love for Argentina while there appears to be no immediate danger that any real domination will be effected over Uruguay and Chile. We should not permit an exaggerated fear of an austral bloc to obscure our objectives in strengthening the inter-American system.

Bogotá Conference.3 Argentina is reported to be dissatisfied with the resolution which it understands the U.S. will propose at Bogotá looking toward the Inter-American Economic Conference. The Director of Economic Affairs of the Argentine Foreign Office feels that the U.S. resolution as reported in Buenos Aires is too generalized and merely “another expression of fine intentions with little practical meaning.” Argentina is more in accord with a resolution offered by Ecuador and expects that it will be proposed at Bogotá that the Economic Conference4 [Page 280] undertake a task roughly similar to that of the sixteen nation conference held at Paris.5

Argentina will probably hold up its own bilateral trade treaties with its neighbors as examples of a proper line of procedure and is so instructing its Bogotá delegation. Argentina’s ambition is doubtless to gain greater international influence and concomitantly to attain a greater degree of industrialization with the attendant assured markets in South America, We should not be disturbed by this. The more Argentina is involved in over-all Latin American economic cooperation the less possibility there is of an austral bloc. Argentina’s neighbors can be trusted not to deliver themselves fully into that country’s power. We should strongly encourage Argentine economic cooperation in inter-American matters.

Argentina as a military threat. If we should have a war in the future, we want Argentina on our side. There is no better way to do this than by increasing our influence with the armed forces. By supplying Argentina with the arms and technical knowledge it is requesting we would not be making that country a military threat to the U.S. or to any other country in the hemisphere. Even if given all the help it requests, Argentina would be in no position to be a military threat to us and we would not permit that country to attack another American republic.

Perón 6 and his administration. …

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Informational & Cultural programs. Our relations with Argentina in the near future will depend on the attitude of the Government and the trend of our political dealings and not to any appreciable degree on our information or cultural activities. Our cultural activities should be directed to a very practical end. We can encourage the Argentines to look to the United States for scientific, engineering and other knowledge, to buy U.S. books, and to look to us for technical assistance and other help in developing their country. Such measures will promote commerce with the U.S. and make our relations with Argentina more productive. A cultural program for culture’s sake should not give us any great concern for the moment.

Argentine beef. The best we can do for the moment is to soft-pedal this question.

U.S. Attitude toward Argentina. If the European Recovery Program [Page 281] is put into effect, we should not permit large amounts of dollar exchange to be paid Argentina unless the latter adopts a reasonable policy with regard to the price of wheat and takes certain measures which would substantially improve our relations.

We should stress inter-American unity and avoid unilateral condemnation of Argentina.

In all inter-American conferences and meetings we should emphasize freedom of the press, free enterprise and free elections.

We would waste our time preaching principles to the Péron Administration. We should make that Administration see that certain advantages will accrue to Argentina under given conditions.

A U.S. policy toward Argentina as herein outlined will probably bring “squawks” from Brazil, Uruguay and possibly other countries. We should assure these countries that they have our friendship and support “and they will have to be content with that.”

  1. Addressed to the Assistant Secretary of State for Political Affairs (Armour), the Director and the Deputy Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Daniels and Woodward, respectively), and the Chief of the Division of River Plate Affairs (Tewksbury).
  2. Despatch No. 2 of January 5, 1948, from the Chargé in Argentina (Ray ), mot printed. In airgram A–5, dated January 2 but sent on January 9, Ambassador James Bruce informed the Department of State that he had read Mr. Ray’s despatch (written without consultation with him) and agreed with every word of it (711.35/1–248).
  3. For documentation on the Ninth International Conference of American States, held at Bogotá, Colombia, March 30–May 2, 1948, see pp. 1 ff.
  4. For documentation on postponement of the projected Buenos Aires Conference, see pp. 73 ff.
  5. For documentation on the conference that led to formation of the Committee of European Economic Cooperation (based on the Marshall Plan), see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. iii, pp. 249 ff.
  6. Juan D. Perón, President of Argentina.