735. 00/3–651

The First Secretary of Embassy in Argentina ( Pool ) to the Department of State

secret
No. 1319

Subject: Developments During Mr. Miller’s Visit.1

[Page 1086]

Mr. Miller’s visit produced some unexpected developments, the evaluation of which the Embassy has not yet completed.

During the whole time Mr. Miller was here, he never once saw Peron alone.2 The Embassy was informed that Friday afternoon, March 2, would be reserved for his talks with the President, and that Miller and Paz3 would proceed to the Pink House after Mr. Miller’s call on the Foreign Minister at 3:30. Nothing happened on Friday, however, or on Saturday either. Mr. Miller finally was invited to luncheon at the President’s Town House on Sunday and spent about two hours with him then, but always in company of the others present—the members of the Economic Council, and Mrs. Peron.4 It was quite clear that it had been decided Peron was not to see Miller alone. It is not known whether this idea originated with the President or with his advisers. All of this is in sharp contrast to Mr. Miller’s visit last year,5 when he and the President sat down in a friendly spirit and talked things out over the table. This time Cereijo6 and Evita did the talking.

While Mr. Miller was in Peron’s company, no specific matters whatever were touched upon, the conversation being confined entirely to generalities. Peron stated that Argentina was fully committed to supporting the United States in the coming conflict, and he recognized that Argentina must soon define its position. Instead of attempting to bring up specific matters for discussion, he went out of his way to talk of other matters—such as the secret scientific experiments in Bariloche7—which are not on the agenda. When Mr. Miller said goodbye to Peron on Monday morning, March 5, Peron made a half-hearted effort to explain away his attitude, which explanation Mr. Miller took to be a feeble apology.

The thought has been expressed that the President is too harassed to have taken on the kind of discussion which would doubtless have ensued in a private conversation with the Assistant Secretary. It is fairly [Page 1087] clear that he is not a very happy man these days. From several different sources, word was pointedly got to the Chargé d’Affaires and to Mr. Miller that above all Mr. Miller should say nothing whatever to Peron about the Prensa matter.8 From this it is gathered that the situation was too touchy for him, that it had gotten out of hand, and that Peron had a bull by the tail and did not know what to do with it. And too, from the conversations with the Perons, it appeared that they were really concerned about local developments and the outcome of the next election.

Foreign Minister Paz and Remorino9 appeared to understand far better than anyone else the United States position vis-à-vis Argentina. Both strongly indicated their intention of working to bring about the improvement necessary. Paz went so far as to say that he would resign if Argentina did not embark on a program of collaboration with the United States for he would not wish to be in office if things went the other way. Paz stated that he foresaw no difficulties in the political or military sphere at the coming meeting of Foreign Ministers.

Cereijo was the official who did most of the talking, and he professed to be speaking for Peron. He told Mr. Miller that Peron was ready to do what he wanted, and desired to know exactly what was wanted so that he could go on from there. (Such a statement should more properly come from the Foreign Minister.) Mr. Miller pointed out to Cereijo (and to Evita) the great effect on American public opinion which recent developments in the field of civil liberties in Argentina had had. Neither Cereijo nor Evita appeared to appreciate the situation, but agreed with the necessity for Argentina’s going along with the United States in the economic field, Cereijo saying flatly that Argentina was in accord with the economic ideas which the United States would develop at the meeting, and that he had heard Peron order Paz to lend the United States full support. Cereijo made light of Democracia’s attacks on the United States, saying this was election year and such things should be expected. Just before Mr. Miller left for the airport, Cereijo said that Democracia would immediately be changing its line.

Evita emerged as the great and good friend of the United States. This was quite different from last year, when during the whole course of Mr. Miller’s visit she had no word of praise whatever for us. She now professed to be a great admirer of the United States—particularly for the stand it has taken in defense of freedom. She indicated her belief in the necessity for Argentina to cooperate with the United [Page 1088] States. She again expressed her desire to visit our country, but realized it would be politically inadvisable for her to go now. She expressed the hope that some day when she was again a private citizen, she would be able to make the trip. Evita showed no understanding whatever of the Prensa problem and said that the matter could be settled very simply by the Prensa giving in to the news boys,10 She heatedly claimed that labor was free in Argentina. As to the possibility of there being created a Third International Labor Organization in the western hemisphere, she indicated that it could be postponed.

That Evita and Cereijo did the talking is considered significant. It would appear that she is in the saddle more than ever, and, of course, Cereijo is her man. (It is somewhat amusing that at one point in the conversation with Mr. Miller, Evita told Cereijo to “shut up”.) The thought has been expressed that Peron may be losing his grip, and that he is an extremely worried man. If the word ever gets around that he is in reality leaving more to her these days, trouble will most likely come, for the army will not accept her.

[Here follows a personal reference.]

The Embassy has not as yet decided what to make of all this. Its thinking at the moment is still confused—even somewhat baffled. It is not disposed to take anything at its face value, for there is a wide discrepancy between words and actions. If, however, the Argentine Government really intends to play ball with us, it should certainly be starting soon, for it is only two weeks from today that the Foreign Minister, Ambassador Remorino, and the other members of the delegation to Washington will be leaving for the Conference. In any event, the Embassy officers are still hoping that before long they will be able to add up two and two and get four. In the meantime, fingers are crossed.

John C. Pool
  1. Assistant Secretary Miller visited Buenos Aires March 2–5, as part of a tour of five Latin American countries (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay) during the latter part of February and early March. He was invited to Argentina ostensibly to attend the Pan American Games, but the actual purpose of his visit was to engage in preliminary discussions with Argentine officials concerning the forthcoming Meeting of Consultation and current problems in United States-Argentine relations. Mr. Miller’s memorandum describing the discussions, dated March 4–5, was transmitted to the Department of State under cover of despatch 1321, dated March 6, 1951 (110.15–Mi/3–651). In the covering despatch, Chargé Mallory stated in part the following:

    “Perhaps the principal value of the visit will be the realization by the Argentines that Mr. Miller made no requests and offered no help except in general international cooperation. The tactic of causing Argentina to realize that she cannot bargain with us using civil liberties or anything else as a pawn, and that she needs us and our close allies more than we need her, should bear good fruit, providing that the several agencies of our Government maintain a united front in policy and practice. The Embassy most strongly supports the views of the Assistant Secretary in this matter. It recommends that no overt action be taken which could cause offense to Argentina, or provide the basis for reaction on her part. It recommends that we follow a policy of quiet watchful waiting, of doing as little for her as possible, allow her to become deeply concerned over supplies and materials which she needs; in short, to follow a policy of masterly inaction which will place us in a dominant position to the end that Argentina can realize that her own best interests are to quickly become our partner in the divided world of today.”

  2. In a letter to Chargé Mallory, dated February 5, 1951, Mr. Miller had stated In part the following: “Regardless of the visit and regardless of the ground covered by George Messersmith, I sincerely hope that I will have an opportunity to talk with Perón alone. The deterioration in U.S.-Argentine relations during the last three weeks is most discouraging to us, as I assume it is to you, and I would like to go over with Perón some of the choicer morsels which his press has been serving up recently and compare them to some of the letters which he sent me last spring and summer.” (Miller Files, Lot 53 D 26)
  3. Hipólito Jesús Paz, Argentine Minister of Foreign Relations.
  4. María Eva Duarte de Perón.
  5. For documentation on Mr. Miller’s visit to Buenos Aires, February 19–24, 1950, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. ii, pp. 691 ff.
  6. Ramón Antonio Cereijo, Argentine Minister of the Treasury and President of the National Economic Council.
  7. Reference is to the experiments with atomic energy conducted for the Argentine Government by Dr. Ronald Richter. On March 24, 1951, President Perón announced that Dr. Richter’s experiments had resulted in the discovery of an improved method for producing atomic energy, but the announcement ultimately proved frivolous. Documents pertaining to this subject are in Department of State decimal files 835.2546 and 935.7137.
  8. La Prensa, the independent Argentine newspaper, was forced to cease publication on January 26, 1951, because of a boycott of the paper by the Argentine newsvendors’ union, an affiliate of the government-sponsored Central Confederation of Labor (Confederación General del Trabajo-CGT); on April 13 the newspaper was expropriated by the Argentine Government.
  9. Jerónimo Remorino, Argentine Ambassador to the United States.
  10. In a letter to Chargé Mallory, dated March 13, 1951, Assistant Secretary Miller stated in part the following: “I am, of course, bitterly disappointed that instead of easing up on La Prensa since I left, the attitude seems more hostile than ever. It seems to me that unless some solution is found of the La Prensa case, we are going to be in for extremely hard sledding in connection with any constructive program towards Argentina.” (Miller Files, Lot 53 D 26)