Miller files, lot 53 D 26, “Argentina”

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


Dear Les: I got your letter of June 191 just before I left for Rio2 and just in time to show it to Al Nufer. I won’t try to comment on it in detail except to say that this kind of correspondence is extremely useful to us all up here. I haven’t seen Tuco Paz since I have gotten back but I hope to catch up with him shortly and will let you know anything that he spills.

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When Al gets to Buenos Aires, he can give you pretty much our thinking up here on the subject of U.S.-Argentine relations. We had numerous bull sessions with him before he left and I do not believe that we came up with anything startling at all. Incidentally we did not feel that Al should stay in Rio since it seemed to us to be conspicuous and also we felt that it was very risky to plan our relations with Argentina upon the uncertain contingency of Evita’s death. If they wish to snub him they will do so whenever he arrives and whatever the circumstances are. However, I should think it extremely unlikely that Remorino being such a close personal friend of Al’s should go in for this kind of petty dealing.

I believe the main difference between the thinking of the Embassy and ourselves about our aproach to Argentine relations is over the Embassy’s feeling that we should make a direct approach to Peron. It seems to me that we have had it as far as these tactics are concerned and that they have not paid off. Rather it seems to me that the best approach would be for Al to cultivate quietly his already good relations with Remorino. Insofar as Peron is concerned, you will recall the completely fruitless mission of George Messersmith last year3 who had every possible advantage, namely, previous friendship with Peron, an entirely unofficial mission, and the complete confidence of his Government. Yet though Uncle George was able to have many hours with Peron, he was unable to change him in the slightest. It would of course be nice to dissuade Peron of his erroneous views about the U.S. but I think that it is one thing to talk to him and another thing to change his thinking. I think the only way that there will ever be any improvement in our relations with Argentina is for the Argentines to come to the conclusion that they must take some responsibility for them themselves. When they wake up to the fact that their anti-American campaign, no matter how long sustained, is not going to make us lose our nerve, they may reconsider their position.

Unfortunately, as I wrote to Ellsworth Bunker some months ago, the basic difficulty is that what Peron wants from us is something that we are unable to deliver to them, namely, an expression of our approval of him, his wife, and all of their works including justicialismo, the CGT and even their anti-American propaganda. When he talks about “resolving all of his problems with the U.S.” this is what he means. In other words, like the Russians he is perfectly prepared to be buddies with us on his terms.

Naturally there may be some change in the situation although I have given up speculating on what may happen if Evita dies. We must be [Page 423] prepared to re-examine our attitude towards Argentina at every point and we should be flexible enough to adjust to any change in the situation down there. However, things being as they now are it seems to me, exasperating and frustrating as it may be, our only course is the one that we have been pursuing. We must during this period avoid to the extent possible any hostile act and, as I told Tuco Paz in regard to the activities of his Labor Attaché, we must do everything possible to avoid getting into an inflexible position. We should exploit those personal friendships that any of us have, always of course in a dignified and prudent manner. It does seem to me though that it is up to them and not to us to take the lead in any change of attitude. We have done it too many times in the past without success.

With kindest regards,

Sincerely yours,

Edward G. Miller, Jr.
  1. Attached to the source text, but not printed. In the letter Mr. Mallory commented on the recent intensification of the anti-American campaign in Argentina and the declining health of Evita Perón, and he speculated on possible political developments in Argentina in the event she should die.
  2. Mr. Miller met Secretary Acheson in Recife, Brazil, on July 2, 1952, and accompanied him to Rio de Janeiro for a state visit which lasted a week. The Secretary’s trip to Brazil was part of a tour of several countries taken between June 22 and July 8. For additional documentation on the Secretary’s trip to Brazil, see pp. 586 ff.
  3. For information on this subject, see despatch 1184, Feb. 13, 1951, Foreign Relations, 1951, vol. ii, p. 1079.