Memorandum by Mr. Raymond K. Oakley of the Division of River Plate Affairs to the Director of the Office of American Republic Affairs (Daniels)


In accordance with your instructions there are outlined below the efforts of the Uruguayan Government in recent years to purchase arms in the United States.

During the war Uruguay obtained a small amount of arms and equipment under lend lease. In June 1946 she submitted a request for a long list of military equipment. In February 1948 the list was reduced and the items requested were for equipment:

  • 1 regiment of infantry (less 2 battalions);
  • 1 cavalry reconnaissance squadron, mechanized (less M3–A1 tank companies);
  • 1 artillery battalion 105mm Howitzers (less 2 batteries);
  • 1 artillery battalion 105mm Howitzers (less 2 guns);
  • 1 anti-aircraft artillery automatic weapon battalion, semi-mobile (less 4 40mm guns);

In June 1948, after an extensive inventory of available equipment, we replied that we did not have any such amount of equipment available. Several other countries also had asked for considerable quantities of such materiel and were likewise refused. A law effective June 30 effectively stopped the sale of surplus equipment on hand within the United States unless it had already been declared surplus. Very little matériel existed at that time which had already been declared surplus.

Meanwhile in May 1948 we received an informal request for purchase of 39 military aircraft. The sale of these was finally approved by the State Department on November 9. Some were planes declared [Page 749] surplus before June 30. It is understood that the Army would fly the remainder to Panama and there declare them surplus, since in that way they would not be subject to the prohibitions of the June 30 law.

In June the ranking officer of the Uruguayan Navy wanted to visit the United States to purchase naval equipment. He finally was convinced that there was no legislative authorization to sell such equipment and that his trip therefore would be unproductive. He decided not to come.

On June 8 the Assistant Military Attaché of the Uruguayan Embassy solicited the assistance of the Army Department in obtaining from private sources a small arms and ammunitions plant and 25–50,000 semi-automatic rifles. This officer made further inquiry in private sources but as far as it is known to the Department, nothing definite was accomplished.

On October 29 Ambassador Briggs reported a conversation with Ambassador-Designate Domínguez Cámpora. The latter stated that upon his arrival in the United States he would press for special consideration for the sale to Uruguay of the equipment listed above plus equipment for one US-type infantry division and 30,000 rifles. Ambassador Dominguez previously had “indicated” to Ambassador Briggs that “there exists an obligation on our part to supply this equipment since the matériel obtained under lend lease is incomplete and of little use without more”.

On December 3 the Department approved the export to Uruguay of 16 Avenger aircraft purchased by the Uruguayan Navy from private sources.

There have been several other small requests from Uruguay to purchase arms or equipment from the United States Government or from private sources. These have been resolved in a manner on the whole satisfactory to the Uruguayans it is believed.