The Ambassador in Argentina (Bruce) to the Secretary of State

[Extract] confidential
No. 388


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

Our Policy Towards Argentina

We cannot hope to have real American unity unless our relations with Argentina are on at least a reasonably friendly basis. We will [Page 289] have to make the Argentines feel that we are treating them at least as fairly as any of the other American Republics.

Many of us will recall our unhappy difficulties with Mexico during the first World War. We also recall our troubles with Argentina during World War I and II. We succeeded in bringing Mexico around for the second World War but certainly did not do so with Argentina. From what we read in the papers and elsewhere, war with Russia must be considered at least as a possibility. We are convinced that if we carry out a wise and realistic policy towards Argentina, we can have this country on our side in the event of real trouble with Russia.

It is true that every sign of friendship towards Argentina is resented by neighboring countries. If we are to straighten out our difficulties with Argentina, we will simply have to make the neighbors understand that we are still friends of theirs but that we consider it necessary in the interests of hemisphere unity to maintain friendly and cooperative relations with Argentina. There are strong nationalistic elements in Perón’s government which are opposed to any form of cooperation with the United States. Perón can be influenced and he is coming more and more to the realization that cooperation with the United States is desirable. Our only course seems to be to take the most possible advantage of this situation and adopt a realistic policy in dealing with Argentina.

The President has expressed the view that if Argentina receives considerable quantities of dollars as a result of the operation of the E.R.P., certain advantages should accrue to American business. He has repeatedly emphasized his understanding of our arguments that he could not expect United States capital to be attracted to Argentina unless conditions were greatly improved with regard to freedom of the press, civil liberties and free enterprise. We expect to begin negotiations shortly with regard to treatment of American business and only time will tell what progress we will be able to make.

As already reported, Perón and many of his followers are working for closer relations with Spain. They have many Fascist ideas but their policy could be just what it is today as a result of the traditional Latin American dictatorship idea even if they had never heard of Fascism.

The policy of Argentina attracts more attention because the country is bigger and stronger, but the government and the situation are probably no worse here than they are in a number of other American Republics. We cannot hope to accomplish anything worthwhile by a policy of unilateral condemnation and turning a cold shoulder to Argentina. Most of the other Latin American countries are offended by Argentine megalomania and overbearing attitude. However, when we appear to be attacking Argentina, sympathy of the other countries immediately shifts to the underdog. If we are to accomplish anything in this hemisphere in plugging for freedom of the press, freedom [Page 290] of speech, civil liberties and democratic methods, we will have to do it on a multilateral basis with the support of some of the other leading countries and not on the basis of unilateral condemnation on our part of conditions in Argentina.

Respectfully yours,

For the Ambassador:
Guy W. Ray

Counselor of Embassy