725.35/1–1149: Airgram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Embassy in Argentina


A–9. The following comments based on reports from Chile may explain in part the concern of that country re Argentina.

Embassy, Santiago, has been informed by member US naval mission recently returned from Rio de Janeiro that Argentine Ambassador some time ago called on Brazilian Foreign Office to denounce Sr. Mario Rodriguez as a “crook” and “communist” and some Rio newspapers subsequently published similar charges against Rodriguez.

(For your use if opportunity arises for statement:

(Sr. Rodriguez is Minister-Counselor of Chilean Embassy in Washington. He is married to American woman and has served many years in Chilean Embassy in progressively more important posts. He is known to officers of Department as unusually able, serious and competent and it is believed he is held in similar esteem by colleagues in the diplomatic corps of Washington.)

This is one more incident tending to increase the uneasiness of the Chilean Government over what it considers hostile attitude toward it of Argentine Government. Chilean belief that Argentine consular and other officials were involved in subversive plot2 has added to nervousness. President Gonzalez Videla on November 23 asked Ambassador Bowers to arrange for some act by US which would indicate US support and strengthen his Government at home and in its relations with Argentina. The Chilean President expressed doubt that the United States Government realized the significance of the present trend in South America which he holds threatens to encircle Chile with anti-democratic regimes.

Department’s telegram 424 of November 24 to Santiago,3 a copy of which was sent you on November 30, instructed Ambassador Bowers to reassure President and Foreign Minister4 of our continuing friendship [Page 589] and also our desire to take any appropriate action which would have reassuring effect in Chile consistent with our policy of friendship for all American republics. The Department’s disapproval of the use of force, as an instrument of political change (Dept’s circular telegram of Dec. 165) and Dept’s press release of December 21 on this subject6 were very favorably received by President Gonzalez Videla. At the same time, the Foreign Minister and the President of the Chilean Senate7 have endeavored to calm down Chilean press and public reaction to the charges of Argentine involvement in the recent Chilean plot.

Notwithstanding the foregoing efforts to lessen Chilean-Argentine tension, there have been continuing indications that the Chilean Government is extremely disturbed over the situation and is convinced that Perón8 has aggressive intentions which are awaiting only the opportune moment for concrete expression. The Chilean Ambassador in Washington9 and Mario Rodriguez have both expressed their Government’s apprehension in conversations with officers of the Department.

The statements attributed to Perón in the interview by the Buenos Aires correspondent of La Razon of La Paz published in that paper on Dec. 31 have naturally served further to increase Chilean alarm with regard to Argentina. In spite of Perón’s reported reference to the question of the free port area in Rosario, subsequently confirmed by Argentine Foreign Minister,10 Chilean touchiness regarding the Bolivian port issue is naturally sufficient to cause Chile to assume that Peron is looking westward.

The Dept has endeavored in its conversations with Chilean representatives here to point out that the Rio Treaty11 provides a substantial bulwark against military aggression, that we have no evidence that Argentina had a hand in bringing about the overthrow of the governments in Peru and Venezuela,12 and that we wonder whether Chilean fears might not be exaggerated. Nevertheless, the Chileans are not completely convinced and Perón’s saber-rattling activities are not serving to reassure them.

  1. Reference is to an abortive military coup in Chile in November 1948.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Germán Rieseo.
  4. The text of this message is printed in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ix, p. 147.
  5. Text in Department of State Bulletin, January 2, 1949, p. 30.
  6. Arturo Alessandri.
  7. Juan D. Perón, President of Argentina.
  8. Felix Nieto del Rio.
  9. Juan Bramuglia.
  10. Text in Department of State Treaties and Other International Acts Series (TIAS), No. 1838, and 62 Stat. (pt. 2) 1681.
  11. For pertinent documentation, see the compilation on continuance by the United States of diplomatic relations with new governments on the basis of the Bogotá Resolution and consultation with other American Republics, in Foreign Relations, 1948, vol. ix, pp. 111 ff. and pp. 126 ff.