123 Ravndal, Christian M.: Telegram

The Ambassador in Uruguay (Briggs) to the Secretary of State

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159. Saw President this evening (having previously seen FonMin1) and communicated to both contents Deptel 113, May 5.2 Batlle Berres [Page 789] stated his concern lest change be result of pressure from Perón and declared he feared would in any case be widely so interpreted by his associates in Uruguayan Government. President spoke at some length along this line asserting that Argentine President although “frustrated by publicity” last February (Embtel 29, February 163 and subsequent correspondence) had not ceased activities seeking my removal.

I replied I knew nothing to confirm President’s impression and emphasized that on contrary it was customary shortly after beginning new presidential term for numerous diplomatic changes to be made. Cited several already announced and said anticipated more might shortly be made known. To my knowledge therefore nothing whatever in any way unusual about my transfer. In answer to President’s observation that change meant my successor might be instructed follow different policy or one less cordial or cooperative, declared was positive President could be at ease. I then referred to my successor stating we had been personal friends for many years. Ambassador Ravndal man highest character and ability, Spanish speaking, previous experience River Plate affairs, who had, moreover, occupied past two years position great responsibility and importance Department.4 Repeated that idea new Ambassador would represent different policy or that my transfer heralded any change of policy President could discount altogether.

When I asked President whether I could interpret our conversation in sense agrément granted, he said he did not want to appear lacking courtesy to my Government or to Mr. Ravndal, but that he would appreciate our allowing him to defer his response until he had communicated with Ambassador Domínguez Cámpora and had received latter’s reply.

I am personally distressed not to be able to report agrément granted. President worries over southern neighbor again at sensitive pitch: he mentioned activities very large Argentine delegation ILO conference;5 Perón’s complaint over alleged discourtesy to correspondent at that conference (Embtel 157, May 66) which President described as just one more example kind of persistent harassment to which constantly exposed; alleged renewal activities Argentine agents here; and increased contacts between Uruguayan opposition party and Perónistas including, according to President, lengthy recent talk between Perón and Herrerista leader. President obviously upset insisted that in light his “numerous messages and representations” to Department re Perón’s efforts to have me removed could only place one interpretation on my transfer.

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It is my suggestion that most satisfactory way to handle matter will be for the Secretary personally to reassure Domínguez Cámpora.7

  1. Daniel Castellanos.
  2. This telegram informed Ambassador Briggs that he would be nominated Ambassador to Czechoslovakia and asked him to obtain Uruguayan consent to Christian M. Ravndal as his successor in Montevideo (123 Briggs, Ellis O.).
  3. Not printed: but see Montevideo’s telegram 31, February 18, 1949, p. 783 and telegram 33, to Montevideo, February 28, 1949, p. 787.
  4. Christian M. Ravndal had been Director-General of the Foreign Service.
  5. The Fourth Conference of American States Members of the International Labor Organization met at Montevideo from April 25 to May 8, 1949.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Telegram 117 to Montevideo, May 10, 1949, reported that Minister-Plenipotentiary of the Uruguayan Embassy Jose A. Mora “inquired Dept at request Amb Domínguez who is in NY and was reassured unequivocally (reurtel 159 May 6, 9 p. m.) consistent your reassurance Pres Batlle.” (123 Ravndal, Christian M.)