Memorandum of Conversation, by the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Daniels)

Participants: Dr. Juan Atilio Bramuglia—Argentine Foreign Minister
Dr. Jerónimo Remorino—Argentine Ambassador
Mr. Daniels—Director, ARA
Mr. Woodward—Deputy Director, ARA
Mr. William D. Pawley1
Mr. Sohar R. del Campo—Interpreter
Mr. Tewksbury—RPA

Dr. Bramuglia expressed his pleasure at being able to visit Washington, and, after the usual amenities, Dr. Bramuglia stated that he would only take up matters of a political character since problems in the economic field were entirely outside his scope. He said, however, that the political problems bear directly on and affect all economic problems.

I expressed the satisfaction at the opportunity to discuss the political [Page 301] problems since these have assumed major proportions in recent weeks and I had been somewhat concerned at the apparent uneasiness in certain of the other American republics.

Argentina’s policy is that of non-intervention. Dr. Bramuglia said that he was glad I mentioned this since he was anxious to have the opportunity of definitely clarifying any misunderstanding which there might be regarding Argentina’s foreign policy. He stated that President Perón and his government was definitely of the opinion that Argentina should not interfere or intervene in the internal affairs of any other government. He expressed the opinion that, even though Argentina regarded certain political activities and conditions as unfavorable, the problems of each country should be solved within the country itself and without outside interference.
I suggested that it might be desirable if President Perón or he took an opportunity to set forth publicly this policy of his Government since such a statement publicly made might help to eliminate such uneasiness as now exists. Dr. Bramuglia indicated that such a statement could readily be made but expressed the opinion that probably little would be accomplished by it since those who professed uneasiness frequently did so to distract attention from their own internal problems.
Argentine relations with Chile. Dr. Bramuglia cited, as an example of irresponsible action, the recent developments in Chile. He said that the election of Gonzalez Videla hinged on the support of the Communist Party. He explained that, ever since election, the position of Gonzalez Videla has been uncertain and that, to gain support and maintain, himself in office, he has first leaned to the center and then to the right, abandoning some of his original supporters in the process. He pointed out that there have been a number of incidents which have been, to say the least, annoying to Argentina. He quoted as an example the action of the Chilean Government in breaking relations with the Soviet Government.2 He stated that very little notice was given to the Argentine Government and that there had been no consultations with Argentina regarding the breaking of relations with the Soviet. When Chile also broke relations with Yugoslavia, no notice was given to Argentina, and the Yugoslav Chargé and another employee of the Yugoslav Legation were taken by military airplane to Mendoza and left there without notice to the Argentine Government. Both were immediately arrested by Argentine authorities since they had entered without the necessary papers. This resulted in embarrassment to the Argentine Government but no protest was made to Chile. [Page 302] There have been a number of other incidents of a similar character, which the Argentine Government has either ignored or passed off with little notice.
The latest incident Dr. Bramuglia attributed to a desire of the Gonzalez Videla government to detract attention from its serious internal problems. Dr. Bramuglia said that it is quite possible that the junior official referred to had made a statement to the effect that a military government was the type best suited for the American governments. He said that such a statement clearly did not represent the official opinion of the Argentine Government and that it was apparently made at a small political meeting and not at an official affair. Dr. Bramuglia states that he does not personally know the person who is reported to have made the statement and that, in his opinion, undue emphasis has been given to it. He stressed the fact that on a number of occasions Argentina has gone to considerable trouble to cooperate with Chile in matters of mutual interest and he expressed the opinion that had not the position of Gonzalez Videla been somewhat precarious this incident would not have been permitted to flare up.
Argentine relations with Uruguay. Dr. Bramuglia prefaced his remarks on Uruguay with the statement that his wife is a Uruguayan and that he has spent a good deal of time in Uruguay and has known President Batlle Berres intimately for at least fifteen years. In discussing Argentine relations with Uruguay, he again stressed the fact that Argentine officials definitely have not intervened in Uruguayan affairs and that the government has no intention of doing so. He emphasized the fact that Batlle Berres and his government have always been strongly opposed to the Perón government. He remarked that, prior to Perón’s election to office, Batlle Berres visited Buenos Aires and made a strong public speech against the election of President Perón. Dr. Bramuglia said he regarded this as direct intervention in Argentine affairs but that the government had overlooked it and had not given serious importance to it. He stated that, on the contrary, Argentine officials had at no time participated in any election campaign or in other attempts to direct political affairs in Uruguay.
Dr. Bramuglia referred to the recent restrictions placed on the exportation of live cattle to Uruguay from Argentina. He said that this action was entirely justified due to the enormous and abnormal increase of exports of live animals to Uruguay to the detriment of the packing house industry in Argentina. He stated that there was no basis for an assumption on the part of Uruguayans that this action had political implications. He explained that imports have risen five or [Page 303] ten fold and were entirely out of proportion to the normal movement. He further explained the shortage which has existed in Argentina and referred to unemployment in a number of the frigorificos.
With reference to the exchange restriction regarding tourist traffic to Uruguay, Dr. Bramuglia stated that he was not entirely in accord with the measure but that actually he was not familiar with all of the economic factors involved. He pointed out that those directly responsible for the maintenance of exchange rates and economic conditions were the ones who must decide what measures to take to conserve exchange resources, etc. He assured me that the regulations governing the availability of exchange for travel to Uruguay were in no way related to political relations between the two countries.
Dr. Bramuglia spoke in a very friendly way regarding Uruguay and said that all countries recognized that Uruguay was a truly democratic country. He compared Uruguayan politics to family politics and remarked that in Uruguay all political matters are considered vital by those interested in the particular problem and that the party line is most important. He said that the Batllistas become worked up about their political problems, the Colorados are equally intense, and the same holds for the Catolicos, etc. Each group regards its factional interest as a dominant factor and unfortunately the Batllistas feel strongly against the Perón government.
With reference to arms purchases,3 Dr. Bramuglia stated that on several occasions he discussed this subject with President Batlle Berres. He has frankly explained to the President that Argentina must continue its defense program which was neglected during the past war. He pointed out that Brazil has much more in the way of modern military equipment than Argentina and that new equipment is therefore justified for defense reasons and that it is in the interest of Uruguay that Argentina be well armed as Argentina would serve to guarantee Uruguay’s security in the case of a new world struggle. Dr. Bramuglia intimated that, when discussing the matter with President Batlle Berres, he appeared to understand and to accept his statements. Unfortunately certain elements in Uruguay apparently continue to stress the danger to Uruguay of Argentine rearmament.
Argentine relations with Paraguay. Dr. Bramuglia mentioned that, as far as Paraguay was concerned, we all knew of the unsatisfactory conditions prevailing in that country. He remarked that there was, of course, a great deal of unrest and extremely disturbed political conditions. He remarked, however, that the internal political situation was a purely Paraguayan matter, and he again stressed the [Page 304] fact that Argentina had no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of neighboring countries.
Recognition of de facto governments.4 With reference to the recent political upheavals in Peru and Venezuela, Dr. Bramuglia said that Argentina had, in connection with Resolution, Number XXXV of Bogotá,5 continued her diplomatic relations with both countries. He remarked that it was ridiculous to think that this action implied any participation on the part of Argentina in the recent events. At this point I remarked that we had heard rumors of this sort but that I had received no evidence of Argentine complicity in these events.
Dr. Bramuglia said that the uprising in Peru in no way surprised him since he had known for a long time that there was a great dissatisfaction with the government and of course a previous attempt had been made in the Callao uprising.
Dr. Bramuglia also said that he remarked in Bogotá to friends that he considered the situation in Venezuela highly uncertain. While he regarded Gallegos as an outstanding intellectual, he did not consider him a practical administrator and felt that the Gallegos government was unduly tolerant of the radical elements. He said that the uprising in Venezuela did not, therefore, surprise him particularly, since he felt that some of the conservative elements distrusted the Gallegos administration. Dr. Bramuglia pointed out that public references to the fact that one of the military officials connected with the revolt had visited Argentina and might, therefore, imply Argentine participation or influence in the uprising were, of course, ridiculous. He said that the officer had, it was true, visited Argentina but said that this was like the visit of any other military official of a friendly country and had no significance whatever.
At the conclusion of Dr. Bramuglia’s discussion of recent events in Latin America, I expressed my appreciation for his assurances that Argentina had no intention of interfering in the internal affairs of neighboring countries. As. Dr. Bramuglia was already due at his next appointment, I told him that there were two matters which I had agreed to mention and then referred very briefly to reports which we have received regarding a limitation of news print supplies to publishers in Buenos Aires which in the United States have been regarded by some as indicating pressure on specific publications; and the difficulty which the American and Foreign Power Company has had with respect to certain properties in various provinces of the republic. Dr. Bramuglia assured me that he would look into both matters on his return to Buenos Aires.
Paul C. Daniels
  1. Mr. Pawley served as Ambassador in Brazil from April 1946 until March 1948.
  2. For previous documentation on the United States position toward labor violence in Chile and Chile’s breach of relations with the Soviet Union, see Foreign Relations, 1947, vol. viii, pp. 497 ff.
  3. For documentation on Argentine armament procurement, see pp. 310 ff.
  4. See ante, pp. 98 ff.
  5. See Pan American Union, Final Act of the Ninth International Conference of American States, Washington, 1948, p. 50.