Memorandum of Conversation, by the Secretary of State

Participants: Dr. José A. Mora—Chargé d’Affaires ad interim, Uruguayan Embassy
Secretary Marshall
Mr. Tewksbury—RPA

Dr. Mora stated that he had just returned to Washington from Montevideo and that, before leaving, President Batlle Berres had specifically requested that he convey the following message to me:

President Batlle Berres will have a meeting with President Perón of Argentina on February 27. According to the agenda covering the interview, the subjects to be discussed are a trade agreement between Argentina and Uruguay and certain boundary questions. As scheduled the meeting will only cover matters relating to the River Plate area, and President Batlle Berres does not anticipate any discussion of international matters of a broad character. If these questions come up, an effort will be made to limit them to purely regional matters. President Batlle Berres is somewhat disturbed lest the meeting involve a discussion of the so-called third position (apparently a position between capitalistic free enterprise and communist totalitarianism) which was announced sometime ago by President Peron. If this question arises, President Batlle Berres intends to oppose this idea on the ground that Uruguay fully supports the liberal democracies.

The President of Uruguay is preoccupied lest the reaction in the United States to the meeting between himself and the President of Argentina will be that it signifies a closer tie in with Argentina and a trend toward the Argentine position in inter-American relations. He wished it made very clear that the forthcoming meeting would relate exclusively to local matters.

Dr. Mora then outlined the importance of friendly trade relations between Argentina and Uruguay and the desirability of having some specific trade agreement. He also stated that there has been for many [Page 739] years a question as to the boundary between Argentina and Uruguay with reference to some small islands in the River Plate. He said that the forthcoming meeting might facilitate an understanding in both of these matters.

Dr. Mora said that the President of Uruguay regretted that he was unable to report that Uruguay had ratified the Rio Pact.1 He pointed out that there was strong political opposition from certain factors in Uruguay but that the President was determined to insist on ratification and felt that he could assure me that he would be successful in his efforts in this connection.

I expressed my pleasure at this expression of the President, and there was a brief discussion of action taken thus far by various countries in this matter.

Dr. Mora said that the President wished to assure me that the position of Uruguay in the Habana Conference2 on the ITO Charter did not signify general opposition to our trade policy. Opposition to various provisions of the Charter have arisen largely as the result of a desire on the part of Uruguay to protect weak industries and to permit an expansion and development of diversified manufacturing in Uruguay.

The President of Uruguay explained to Dr. Mora that Uruguay’s policy toward communism was different from that of some of the neighboring countries. The President feels that, in a country of true democracy such as Uruguay, the activities of political groups should be in the open. He feels that, even communist activities, which in Uruguay are not very extensive, should be permitted to operate in the open rather than be driven underground since it would then become more difficult to watch and control any subversive activities. While there is a certain amount of communist activity, Dr. Mora did not feel that this is a serious menace at the present time in Uruguay.

In closing, Dr. Mora stated that his President was pleased to see the re-establishment of friendly relations between the United States and Argentina,3 He felt that this was particularly important to Uruguay since strained relations between the United States and Argentina created delicate problems for his country. The President had stated that some fear has been expressed in Uruguay that the improvement of relations between the United States and Argentina might lead to an agreement on the part of the United States whereby [Page 740] Argentina might be granted certain freedom of action with respect to its neighbors in the southern part of South America.

I requested Dr. Mora to inform his President that I deeply appreciated his frank statement regarding the various problems and policies of Uruguay, and I assured him that this Government was most anxious to continue its friendly relations with his country.

George C. Marshall
  1. For the Inter-American treaty of reciprocal assistance, opened for signature at Rio de Janeiro September 2, 1947, see Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series No. 1838, or 21 UNTS 77.
  2. For documentation on the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment at Habana, November 21, 1947–March 24, 1948, see volume i .
  3. For documentation on this subject, see pp. 279 ff.