The Counselor of Embassy in Argentina (Ray) to the Ambassador in Uruguay (Briggs)1
Dear Ellis: Ambassador Bruce tells me that he discussed with you briefly the Uruguayan reaction to President Perón’s recent references to a “third position” and Uruguayan preoccupations regarding this speech, and also regarding the expected meeting between the Presidents of Argentina and Uruguay.
Perón has made many references from time to time to Argentina’s “third position”. We have reported on this so often and so fully to the Department that we merely sent the text of his most recent statements to the Department without any attempt to analyze it further. We have on a number of occasions asked Bramuglia2 and Perón what they meant by “third position” and why they considered it necessary to make frequent references to such a position since these statements usually created a bad impression in the other American countries. They usually shrugged their shoulders and remarked that statements of such a character were a bit of political demagoguery for home consumption. Perón has explained that he does have a “third position” in an economic sense: he does not believe in a Communist or Socialist state or in any form of totalitarian economy. He thinks the Communists and Socialists go much too far but that the purely [Page 282] capitalist countries frequently have trusts or monopolies which cause abuses. He has explained to us that he believes public utilities such as telephones, telegraphs, post offices, electric light power, street cars, railways, etc., should be owned and operated by the government. He professes to believe that ordinary commerce should remain in the bands of private industry. He describes his position, therefore, as being somewhere between the extreme left and the extreme right. He insists that his so-called “third position” does not mean in any sense, nor has ever meant, that in case of trouble between the United States and Russia he would adopt a neutral attitude and try to play one off against the other. The President, the Foreign Minister, and a number of others in the Foreign Office have reiterated to us time and again that if trouble should arise between the United States and Russia, Argentina would immediately take our side. There seems to be little doubt that Perón and his principal associates are anti-Communist.
We suspect that Uruguay and some of the other neighboring countries are prone to use the Argentine bogey man for enlisting the sympathy of the United States and urge us to accentuate our support for them, financially and otherwise. We have no doubt that Argentina has brought some pressure from time to time to bear on some of its smaller neighbors. The idea that Argentina should have a dominant position, at least in the southern part of South America, is not one which Perón initiated. There is nothing in Argentina’s history to indicate a concerted plan to increase its territory through military conquest. Its record in that sense might compare pretty favorably with ours.
There is no doubt that Perón and his administration are friendly with the Franco regime in Spain and also feel that the United States is following a mistaken policy in its relations with Franco. Perón argues that Spain is the best bulwark in Europe against Communism and that we should all give Franco our support.
In a conversation we had with Perón yesterday he did not mention the so-called “third position”. He dwelt at considerable length on his desire to put relations between Argentina and the United States on a friendly and durable basis. He emphasized that we must work together against the Communists and that we must get our relations on a basis where our interests will be parallel rather than opposed and that if we can do this, there should be no reason why Argentina and the United States should have any real difficulties.
In his conversation yesterday, Perón brought up the point which has considerable justification and which he had never mentioned to us before. He said that during the period of the revolution from 1946 to 1946 when he took office the administration here was carrying on a [Page 283] lot of experiments and had made a lot of mistakes. He said there might have been some justification at times of a feeling that Argentina was not entirely friendly towards the United States. Perón emphasized that since he took office, he has made every possible effort to improve Argentina’s relations with the United States and that he believed he and Mr. Bruce could make a lot of headway within the next few months in a further improvement of relations. He said that he had frequently been accused in the American press of being anti-United States and remarked that he considered himself much more friendly towards the United States than previous administrations, under the Conservatives, had been. He remarked that for many years relations between Argentina and the United States had been bad and that much of this was due to the attitude of former conservative administrations in Argentina. Our study of Argentina’s history makes us inclined to agree with him on this point.
We would certainly not say that things are going here just the way we would like to have them. However, our relations with Perón and Bramuglia have been cordial and friendly and so far they have kept all the promises they have made to us. We have been able to obtain quite a number of concessions from Perón. He has not granted every request we have made of him, but in every instance where he has given his word, he has kept it to the letter.
Perón pointed to Argentina’s attitude at the Río Conference3 as proof of Argentina’s good will and desire to cooperate with the United States and the other American countries. He expressed confidence that the Río Treaty would be implemented and that the Conference at Bogotá would be successful and that the Argentine Delegation would go there with a sincere desire to cooperate in achieving success.
I know you understand that we have not gone overboard completely nor are we being gullible. However, we do see a lot of encouraging signs and believe that instead of impressing Perón and Bramuglia with our skepticism, we should give them every chance to demonstrate that they are sincere in their protestations of friendship for the United States and a desire to cooperate.
This letter has spread over a somewhat larger field than I had intended when I started it. I think it may be of some interest to the Department and for that reason I am transmitting a copy to the Department by air mail despatch.
We have read with interest your recent telegrams to the Department.
With kind regards,
- Copy transmitted to the Department by the Ambassador in Argentina (Bruce) in his despatch 145, February 20, not printed.↩
- Juan Atilio Bramuglia, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Worship.↩
- For documentation on the Inter-American Conference for the Maintenance of Continental Peace and Security, at Quitandinha, Brazil, August 15–September 2, 1947, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. viii, pp. 1 ff.↩