123 Ravndal, Christian M.

The Ambassador in Uruguay (Ravndal) to Mr. R. Kenneth Oakley of the Office of East Coast Affairs 1

official   informal

Dear Ken: Shortly after my arrival here last August, I asked a group of leading American businessmen to meet with Bill Walker2 and me from time to time to consider ideas, problems and proposed recommendations, so that in submitting matters to the Department we would have had the counsel of men of long experience in River Plate affairs.

One of the first questions raised with them was the possibility of their pooling a part of the funds they normally spend on commercial advertising for the purpose of selling the American way of life and, incidentally, neutralizing communist propaganda. Among the subsidiary ideas developed was financing visits to the United States of newspaper men, of labor leaders, and of people who promise to play an influential role in future Uruguayan government.

When the Department recently suggested the formation of an advisory committee for USIE activities here we simply gave the existing advisory body an additional hat to wear. The members are:

M. G. Patrick, Manager, The National City Bank of New York (Montevideo)

H. C. Wheaton, Manager, Cia. Uruguay a de Cemento Portland

W. C. Denton, Manager, International Harvester Export Company

M. M. Merritt, Manager, Standard Oil Company, S.A. Uruguaya

S. T. James, President, Cia. Swift de Montevideo, S.A.

Recently Al Carter3 has given a series of luncheons in order that we might get to know better the people running the newspapers and radio stations here. We have used those meetings to discuss communism in Uruguay and to challenge any complacency re the matter. Out of those meetings came the idea of using the theater of the air for the purpose of subtly teaching the Uruguayan people the meaning of communism and awakening them to its menace.

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While Bob Ross4 was working out the detail of how the program might work and how much it might cost, we had a visit from John L. McCaffrey, President of the International Harvester Company, who was passing through with three of his top officials on a flying tour of their branches in Latin America. We presented the idea to him and when he reacted enthusiastically asked him whether the International Harvester Company would be willing to bear a part of the financial burden. He replied unequivocally in the affirmative and added that his company would also help by providing whatever useful material it had available.

With this encouragement we took the matter up with our advisory committee, and the immediate result was Despatch No. 606 of June 265 which Bob Ross prepared with the committee’s unanimous approval on the basis of his findings to that date.

Subsequently, Perry Culley6 urged that we explore the immediate utility of a poster campaign to expose the lie of the communist pro-peace campaign. And we have since had two further meetings with the committee. The members are all 100% for the idea. Between the meetings Pete James talked to four representative Uruguayans whom he trusts and Patrick talked with Dr. Regules, our new Minister of the Interior. From the latter we have the green light to form an Uruguayan association which on its own responsibility will plaster the country with cartoons carrying anti-communist messages which our American friends will provide them. At no time will the real source, the American Embassy, be revealed. James made a great impression on his Uruguayan audience and since our second meeting has been showing them representative cartoons. (Embassy telegram 186 of June 30).5 The American businessmen here are prepared, if the Uruguayans want financial backing, to give such backing as well.

With warmest personal regards and the best of wishes,

Sincerely yours,

  1. Assigned to River Plate Affairs.
  2. William W. Walker, First Secretary of Embassy.
  3. Albert E. Carter, Second Secretary of Embassy.
  4. Robert W. Ross, Third Secretary of Embassy.
  5. Not printed.
  6. Perry H. Culley, Assistant Attaché.
  7. Not printed.