511.00/8–251: Circular airgram
The Secretary of State to Certain Diplomatic Offices in the American Republics 1
Fol is Info Policy Guidance on Electoral Campaign in Argentina
The principal opposition party of Argentina, the Union Cívica Radical, will reportedly select its slate for the Presidential elections (set for Sunday, November 11) at a convention on August 4. The Peronista Party convention is expected to follow on or about August 22, resulting in the nomination of President Perón for a second term. Plans of the Conservative, Socialist, and minor—including Communist—parties are as yet unknown.
The following factors are foreseen as likely to produce a large amount of international publicity and to make the conduct of U.S.-Argentine relations unusually difficult during the period of the campaign:
- The Government-controlled papers and news agencies of Argentina will probably maintain and even increase their current efforts to convict the U.S. of interference in Argentine domestic affairs, to disparage [Page 1103] the U.S. Government, and to vilify its leadership. To this end, close scrutiny will be turned upon our informational activities, particularly in the field of radio: it is a matter of record that in Argentine official circles VOA broadcasts are interpreted as having diplomatic significance.
- The Argentine government may take official actions in the international field calculated to reaffirm Argentine sovereignty in the face of U.S. regulations which they consider presumptious—for instance, the Kem Amendment.2 Unfavorable U.S. public opinion reaction will naturally follow.
- The Radicals’ choice of Deputy Ricardo Balbín, if confirmed, will indicate that that Party plans to conduct its campaign as much for the purpose of affecting foreign opinion as for winning Argentine votes. (Balbín, pardoned on January 2 after 10 months of imprisonment, is at present under charge of violating the “disrespect” law on more than a score of occasions; he is distinguished mainly for his oratory.)
- Argentine exiles and self-exiled persons in other countries, chiefly Uruguay and the U.S., can be expected to carry on the opposition campaign abroad and may go to considerable lengths in attempting to damage the relations of the Peron Govt with others of the American republics.
- The Peronista campaign will predictably receive an abnormal amount of attention, much of it unfriendly, from the U.S. press.
In the absence of unforeseen developments, the Peronistas are expected to win the elections, regardless of in what manner the campaign may be conducted.
It is obviously to the interest of the United States, with reference to 1) the long-term objectives of U.S.-Argentine relations, 2) the development of Continental strength and security, and 3) the maintenance of Western Hemisphere support at the Sixth General Assembly of the U.N., to exercise restraint during this period of strain.
The United States, therefore, acting within the leeway afforded by its long-range Argentine policy, is currently expressing an attitude of strict “correctness” towards Argentina, applying this tactic in every phase of relations. It is essential that this attitude of “correctness” be projected in terms of the public affairs program and that it be kept uncompromised during the months of the presidential campaign. There should not be even the appearance of justification for airy Argentine claim that the U.S. Government is abetting Administration opponents or showing partisanship in the political contest. Although it is not the determining consideration, the fact should be borne in mind that a departure from this policy might very possibly lead to [Page 1104] curtailment by the Argentines of USIE activities in their country, which are continuing with a proven degree of effectiveness.
1. In order that treatment may accord with that customarily given to political contests in the Latin American republics, coverage of the Argentine campaign should be held to a minimum of factual reporting.
2. The elections themselves and their results should have brief routine handling.
3. In the absence of specific guidance, avoid statements related to the elections which may be made in this country by Argentine exiles or expatriates.
- Sent to all missions in the American Republics; sent also to the Consulates at Sao Paulo, Recife, and Porto Alegre, Brazil; Monterrey and Guadalajara, Mexico; and Guayaquil, Ecuador.↩
- The Kem Amendment (Section 1302 of Public Law 45, Third Supplemental Appropriation Act, approved June 2, 1951), so-named after Senator James P. Kem of Missouri, directed that all economic and financial assistance must be withheld from any country which exported strategic materials to Communist-bloc nations. For text of the amendment, see 65 Stat. 63.↩