Memorandum by Mr. Henry Dearborn of the Division of River Plate Affairs 1
Subject: Important Political Developments During Month
General situation: The general situation in Argentina is confused and satisfactory explanations are not available for all that has been happening during the past month. Our Embassy tells us that high Government officials are not aware of just what is going on. The dollar shortage overshadows all other problems and it is suspected that most of what has happened can be traced to economic ills.
On September 8 President Perón threatened his opposition with Jianging. On September 24, the Chief of Police charged that John Griffiths was heading a plot to assassinate the Peróns and Perón himself implied that U.S. funds were behind the plot. On October 2 four U.S. newsmen had their cables refused at the order of the Government. While this presumably had something to do with Perón’s charge that foreign correspondents were spies and saboteurs, we still do not inow what the Government meant to accomplish.
The reasons behind the seemingly hysterical actions of the Government during the past month have been given as: (1) the desire of the President to whip up enthusiasm for his constitutional reforms, (2) the need for a scape-goat to divert the country’s attention from the acute dollar shortage, inflation, and the increasing number of strikes and unrest in labor circles, and (3) an attempt to intimidate all foreign correspondents by actions against some of the principal ones.
Griffiths: We have no indication that Griffiths was implicated in or knew of the plot against the Peróns. While there were rumors that Argentina might ask for his extradition, the Argentine judge on the case has said that this would not be asked for and the President of Uruguay2 has said he would not permit extradition unless he and we were satisfied with the evidence.
The arrest in Buenos Aires of two Uruguayan women and the Griffiths case have caused considerable ill feeling between Argentina and Uruguay.
Argentina has taken steps greatly to increase its consular service, especially by opening new offices, some in places where there is little apparent justification.[Page 295]
The Argentine Congress adjourned without ratifying the Rio treaty or the IRO charter. Congress does not meet again until next May 1.
Asociacion Noticiosa Argentina, an Argentine news agency, is expanding fast. It is to operate as a news agency in many countries but in the U.S. it will, in addition, diffuse propaganda. It has a competent staff and is doubtless subsidized wholly or in part by the Argentine Government.