Memorandum of Conversation, by Henry Dearborn of the Office of South American Affairs

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  • US Policy toward Argentina
  • Participants: Assistant Secretary Miller
  • Ambassador Nufer
  • ARA—Mr. Mann
    • Mr. Spalding1
    • Mr. Fishburn2
  • OSA—Mr. Atwood
    • Mr. Bennett
    • Mr. Randolph3
    • Mr. Dearborn

A meeting comprised of the above persons was held in Mr. Miller’s office today on the subject of US relations with Argentina. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the points listed on pages 7 and 84 of Ambassador Bunker’s memorandum of March 11, 1952, entitled “Suggestions for Argentine Policy” so that Ambassador Nufer might have the benefit of the most recent views of ARA prior to his departure for Buenos Aires.

  • Point 1. The unanimous opinion of those present was that US officials should not engage in any attacks on the Peron regime. On the other hand they may and should take advantage of every opportunity to offset anti-US Peronista propaganda. In this connection, however, it was brought out that most Peronista charges are similar to charges made against the US by unfriendly elements in other LA countries and that the problem is one which the US has with all of these unfavorable groups and not with Argentina alone. Mr. Miller emphasized that we should not let the tail wag the dog: we should not allow our concern over Argentina to dominate our whole hemisphere policy. This would be like a parent permitting his every action to be determined by a naughty child. Mr. Mann suggested that the Bureau should initiate action toward getting the US view across to persons strategically situated in LA so that much of the misinformation circulating from Argentina and other sources might be counteracted. An example which Mr. Mann gave was that the Chileans were not informed that the US produces large quantities of copper and of other facts related to this important item. He recalled an opinion of the Ecuadoran Chargé d’Affaires, Dr. Moscoso,5 that the US should make a special effort to establish working contacts with 50 important LA newspaper editors. Mr. Mann suggested that we should work at high and low diplomatic levels to correct misinformation about the US so that OAR would have [Page 420] a better understanding of our position. All present agreed and Mr. Miller asked Mr. Mann, together with MID and OSA, to work on a plan of implementation.
  • . . . . . . .
  • Point 2. Insofar as this point could be implemented within the framework of the commentary on Point 1, it was approved. There should be no overt activity toward inducing other countries to adopt measures to oppose Argentine penetration.
  • Point 3. There was agreement in general with this point but there was no detailed discussion of it.
  • Point 4. The unanimous opinion of those present was that there was not much that could be done through the US trade union movement and the ORIT that was not already being done.
  • Point 5. Point 5 received considerable discussion. All present agreed that under present conditions Ambassador Bunker’s relationship with President Peron had been the proper attitude. It was not believed that the time had come for us to take the initiative in attempting to bring about closer relations between Peron and the Ambassador. Mr. Miller noted that every attempt at an understanding with Peron had failed and said that he was convinced that Peron would settle for nothing less than a price we would not pay—namely, US official public approval of his regime and all its trappings. Mr. Miller recalled that Peron had said as much to him in February 1950.6 Mr. Mann believed that there was no likelihood of any understanding with Peron until such time as the latter might indicate on his own initiative that he desired to be cooperative—and Mr. Mann was not optimistic about this eventuality. It was the view of the meeting that the Ambassador should be prepared to see Peron when the latter desired it but should take no step on his own part to bring about a closer relationship than existed during Ambassador Bunker’s tenure. On the other hand, friendly relations with officials of the Argentine Government would fall wholly within present policy and it would be perfectly proper to visit them and to invite them to the Embassy.
  • Point 6. This point was considered with Point 5.
  • Point 7. It was believed by those present that while it serves Peron’s purpose to attack the US, there is little likelihood that we shall be able to shift his attack from the US to communism. Mr. Miller remarked that he thought we had little chance of changing the Third Position [Page 421] and that in his opinion Peron would continue to attack both us and the Commies.
  • Point 8. Mr. Miller suggested that an instruction be sent to the field to serve as guidance for our Missions on problems likely to arise regarding Argentina. Mr. Dearborn said that such an instruction7 was circulating among officers in ARA and that it would probably reach his desk in a day or two.
  • Point 9. Ambassador Nufer has been briefed on this point.

Following the discussion of the nine points, Ambassador Nufer said he would like to know what decision had been made on whether certain economic sanctions should be secretly applied to Argentina. The prevailing opinion was that there should be no sanctions of this sort. It was agreed that the US would continue to give Argentina routine treatment on her requests and that no special consideration would be allowed in matters of priorities or export licenses.

In conclusion Mr. Miller emphasized that our policy was not frozen and that he would be pleased to review it at any time the Ambassador might wish to make a recommendation to this effect.

  1. Hobart A. Spalding, Intelligence Adviser.
  2. John T. Fishburn, Labor Adviser.
  3. Archibald R. Randolph, Officer in Charge of River Plate Affairs.
  4. Reference is to part VI of Ambassador Bunker’s memorandum of Mar. 11; see p. 404.
  5. Alfonso Moscoso.
  6. Mr. Miller visited Argentina, Feb. 19–24, 1950; for documentation concerning his trip and his discussions with President Perón, see Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. ii, pp. 691 ff.
  7. Not identified, but presumably a reference to the instruction dated Aug. 26, 1952, p. 423.