Miller Files, Lot 53 D 26

The Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Miller) to the Ambassador in Argentina (Bunker)


Dear Ellsworth: I spent Friday night having a long talk with Les Mallory during the course of which we discussed some of the problems you had talked over with him. I think that Les and I, and consequently you and I, see eye to eye about the problems in Argentina, and Les has undertaken to write you fully about his consultation here including his talk with me. I prefer that he do it himself rather than have me do it since there are undoubtedly nuances which he will want to take up with you on some of the problems in recent months. However, there are a few points which I might comment on here.

In the first place, I am glad that Les can get away for a substantial leave. I was also glad of the opportunity of spending a full evening with him—he is a fine person. I was delighted to know that he is extremely happy in his assignment with you, as I expected that he would be. Also, I gather that the feeling is mutual. He was quite impressed over your unprecedented generosity in having gone to the airport to see Eleanor and him off.

At one point during the evening, Les mentioned that you sensed a hardening attitude on the part of Washington toward Argentina. To the extent which you have detected such a trend, I am probably responsible for it in my letters, particularly my letters about the Descartes translation1 and the pulp and paper matter.2 All that I can [Page 1107] say is that it is extremely difficult for us to take this continual pounding which the Argentine press is handing out without reacting in some way along the lines of a stiffening in attitude. This does not mean that there has been any change in our policy with Argentina which remains the same. Furthermore, an example of the way our policy pays off, such as Argentine cooperation in San Francisco,3 is proof that our policy is the only one. Nevertheless, Argentina is a unique case in hemispheric relations since it (and possibly Guatemala) is the only place in the hemisphere where the government, while cooperating with us in multilateral organizations, works against us both at home and elsewhere in the hemisphere. They work against us through buying newspapers, such as El Mundo in Rio, and individual newspapermen and radio stations such as two we listened to in Panama. The result of the attacks on us is probably not great but it tends to work against our objectives during this critical point in history. Even in international organizations their support is not constant and during the IA ECOSOC meeting in Panama,4 from which I returned last week, the Argentines were not as cooperative as they might have been. While this to some extent was due to the especially offensive personality of Schiopetto, the fact that the performance is still perfectly Argentine is shown by the issue of the Argentine Information Bulletin which includes an entirely gratuitous and unnecessary crack at me. It is only natural that the result of all this should be to make us here in Washington less tolerant of Argentina and to put us in the mood to be harder bargainers in specific negotiations. At the same time, as I told Les the other night, we are getting to be in an increasingly hardboiled mood toward South America as a whole, because of their miserable performance in making any concrete contribution in Korea. I am having luncheon in a few minutes today with the Chief of Staff of the Brazilian Armed Forces, General Goes Monteiro,5 who is going to tell me that Brazil’s willingness to cooperate with us in the military field will be conditioned to a large extent on the success of the Brazilian Minister of Finance, Lafer,6 who is asking for a 100 million dollar loan. I propose to tell Goes Monteiro that Lafer’s visit will be facilitated by a greater display of willingness on the part of the Brazilian people as a whole, and the armed forces in particular, to do their part in the collective security effort, and that any effort to link the economic and [Page 1108] military negotiations will only have adverse repercussions toward Brazil.7

Since I have been in this job, I have felt that it was part of my responsibility to try to bring home to these people that they need us at least as much, if not more, than we need them. In this effort, I have run against the feeling of overconfidence which was instilled in the Latin Americans before and during World War II that like the figures on Keats’ Grecian Urn the United States would always be pursuing and the Latin Americans would always play the role of the flirtatious maidens, always beckoning and never giving in.

As to our tactics in the immediate future, I believe that we should continue to play our role of correctness and fairness which seems to be paying dividends. Any positive efforts in specific negotiations would seem to be out of the question for the next two months. We can send the ball back when they serve it up, but let it go at that. On the other hand, I believe that we can work on personal relations, you with Remorino at your end and I with Paz at this end, since I believe both of these men are worthwhile. I suggested to Les that in my opinion it would be fruitless for you to try to establish close personal relations with Peron. I believe it would be more effective if you tried to arrange it so as to deal primarily with Remorino and also to see him as much as you think appropriate on a personal basis. This might arouse the curiosity of both the President and other characters such as Cereijo, although we must be careful that in cultivating Remorino and Paz we do not injure their standing with their own people. I have seen Paz on three occasions since he has been here and our relations are most intimate and cordial. He cannot conceal his complete bliss in being out of Buenos Aires and out of the Ministry8 at this time. He has explained to me with remarkable frankness his reasons for being glad to leave which include primarily that he has never been close to Evita. He considers her renunciation of the vice-presidency to be a major blow to her and he has no doubt, on the basis of a conversation which he had with her before he left, that she was most anxious to be nominated. His interpretation of the sequence of events is that she ran her luck out as far as it would go and when she saw that Mercante9 and the Army had the cards stacked against her she pulled out of the game. However, he feels that she may not have pulled out of it for good and believes that Quintano will not be the final candidate for the vice-presidency.

[Page 1109]

I am giving a dinner in honor of Paz and the new Panamanian Ambassador, Roberto Heurtematte, who was in Yale with me, on September 27 which also happens to be my 40th birthday. This should go very well to solidify (or else liquify) relations.

With kindest regards,

Sincerely yours,

Edward G. Miller, Jr.

P.S.—The Epoca editorial which Jack Pool sent me with his letter of August 3110 is not inconsistent with the other cracks that this and other journals have been taking at us in BA recently. The coincidence between the line in this editorial and that in the Argentine Embassy propaganda bulletin enclosed herewith11 is so striking (for example, in the emphasis upon the fact that my presence at the meeting in Panama was of secondary importance to other duties of mine) that it leaves no doubt that this is all part of a concerted officially-inspired attack. Furthermore, the line was set down before the end of the IA ECOSOC session since the head of the Argentine Delegation after being voted down ignominiously in the closing plenary on a last-minute resolution with reference to farm wages, explained lamely that he had been caught short by the last-minute decision of the conference to hold a plenary on Thursday night instead of Friday as originally scheduled. The meaning of his remarks was clear to anybody since the last plenary was called because of my impending departure which had been announced to everyone when I arrived.

  1. Reference to the letter concerning the Descartes translation is uncertain. “Descartes” was the pseudonym of an individual, suspected by some in the Department of State to be President Perón, who wrote articles critical of the United States for the government-controlled press in Argentina, particularly Democracia.
  2. See the letter of August 16, supra.
  3. Apparent reference to the Japanese Peace Conference, which met in San Francisco, September 4–8, 1951, For documentation on the conference, see vol. vi, Part 1, pp. 777 ff.
  4. Reference is to the Second Extraordinary Meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council (IA–ECOSOC), held in Panama City, August 20–30, 1951. For information on the meeting, see the editorial note on p. 1065.
  5. Pedro Aurélio Góes Monteiro.
  6. Horácio Lafer.
  7. For documentation on the negotiations between the United States and Brazil concerning military and economic matters, see pp. 1184 ff.
  8. Ministry of Foreign Relations. Ambassador Paz had served as Minister of Foreign Relations prior to his appointment as Ambassador to the United States.
  9. Domingo A. Mercante, Governor of the Province of Buenos Aires.
  10. Not printed in this volume.
  11. No enclosure was found with the source text.