OAS Files, Lot 60 D 6651

Paper Prepared in the Department of State2

IAM D–10

[Here follow a covering sheet and a Negotiating Brief on the La Prensa problem.]

Position Paper“La Prensa” Problem

Problem—What should the position of the US be if the closing of the Argentine newspaper. La Prensa is interjected in any way into the Meeting of Foreign Ministers?


1. The US should not take any initiative to bring up the La Prensa matter either with a view toward putting it on the agenda or toward introducing a resolution under an item already on the agenda.

2. The US should not support any move by another republic to place the La Prensa matter on the agenda either in general or specific terms.

3. The US should support a general resolution introduced by another Latin American republic favoring freedom of the press.

4. The US should not support any resolution by another country which specifically attacks the Peron regime and its attitude in the La Prensa dispute.

5. In discussions with other Foreign Ministers outside of the Meeting, the US should if the subject is brought up express its concern over the La Prensa situation. The US should point out that while the difficulties of La Prensa are an internal Argentine problem to be resolved in Argentina, comments on the La Prensa situation throughout the hemisphere clearly show that the problem has international aspects. We should state that when free institutions are attacked, the suppression of any part of them becomes a matter of concern to all who are fighting for their preservation. It would also be appropriate to refer to the detrimental effects of this affair on US-Argentine relations.

Discussion—On January 26, 1951, the independent Argentine news paper La Prensa was forced to cease publication owing to a boycott of the paper by the newsvenders’ union, an affiliate of the Government-sponsored Central Confederation of Labor of Argentina (CGT). The [Page 1090] venders gave as the reason for the boycott that La Prensa had refused their demands, among which were that 20% of the paper’s revenue from classified advertising be given to the union for social aid and that the union be the sole distributor of the paper. The Department suspects that the action of the newsvenders was inspired by the Peron Government and in fact this is widely believed among those who have expressed themselves on the subject. The Peron Government has always been hostile towards La Prensa for the latter’s critical stand towards the Government and its policies.

There has been widespread criticism of the Peron Government throughout the hemisphere because of its attitude towards La Prensa. Although that Government has stated that the issue is solely a labor matter and is not one in which Executive intervention would be justified, editorial opinion in the US and the other American republics has made abundantly clear that it believes Peron is taking advantage of the situation to silence his most powerful and vocal critic. The issue has therefor become one of freedom of the press.

Indignation toward the Peron regime appears to have reached its height following February 27 on which day one La Prensa employee was killed and several others wounded by unidentified persons who attempted to prevent La Prensa workers from entering the printing plant. The unidentified persons are generally believed to have been acting on behalf of the Government though proof of this is lacking.

At the present time the Argentine police have taken over the La Prensa plant and it has been announced that Dr. Alberto Gainza Paz, the publisher of the paper, is to be charged with violation of a 1945 decree regarding the security of the state. Gainza Paz, however, still has not been formally charged and is at liberty. A general meeting of the Government sponsored CGT on March 9, resolved in favor of complete support of the newsvenders’ boycott and a boycott of La Prensa by all CGT affiliates.

The La Prensa question may arise in the Meeting of Foreign Ministers in a number of ways. An attempt to place it on the agenda is regarded to be the least likely approach since a unanimous vote is required for this purpose and Argentina would certainly not give its assent. Another possibility is that the problem will be introduced as a resolution under one of the items now on the agenda. The resolution could be either of a general nature on freedom of the press or could relate specifically to the situation in Argentina. The US would not wish to take any initiative at the Meeting to bring up the La Prensa matter. To do so would in all probability strain US-Argentine relations to an extent which might wreck the whole Meeting and make hemispheric solidarity on security objectives impossible. Furthermore, it would be unwise for the US to support a move by another republic to place the La Prensa matter on the agenda as a separate item. This is [Page 1091] because every effort has been made to limit the agenda to its present terms and it is believed that the La Prensa matter does not fall within the objectives of the Meeting. On the other hand, if another American republic should introduce a general resolution on freedom of the press under an item already on the agenda the US should support this since it would neither be desirable nor politically expedient for the US to refrain from supporting a resolution which all the world knows we believe in so firmly. The US should not, however, support any resolution which specifically attacks the Peron regime since such an action might also wreck the conference and put an end to hemispheric solidarity. Action on the La Prensa matter during the meeting may be limited to cloak room discussion by the Foreign Ministers. In this case the US should express itself along the lines of recommendation 5.

  1. Basic collection of records of meetings of the Organization of American States (OAS), other major inter-American governmental organizations, and inter-American conferences, together with related subject files for the years 1939–1962, as maintained and retired by the Office of Inter-American Regional Political Affairs.
  2. Drafted by Mr. Henry Dearborn of the Office of South American Affairs in preparation for the forthcoming Fourth Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs.