Memorandum by the Under Secretary of State (Smith) to the President 1



  • Current Status of U.S.-Argentine Relations

Through various channels, President Peron has sent messages to the effect that Argentina’s difficulties with the United States were due to the personalities and attitudes of officials of the previous administration. He professes to have a high personal regard for you and suggests that the time is now ripe for improving relations. Substantially the same statements were made by Peron to Ambassador Nufer with the request that the Department be informed officially.

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We want from Argentina: cessation of the Communist-line propaganda which, until modified recently, was being propagated throughout the hemisphere by the Argentine Government and labor elements which it controls; unequivocal opposition to Communism and the Soviet design. (Peron’s announced policy is one of equal opposition to both US and USSR “imperialism”.)

Peron probably wants from us: friendly and respectful attitude towards him and his regime by the press and organized labor in the US as well as military and economic aid. Unless he modifies his policies, it would be impossible for us to comply completely with his first desire, and substantial US aid would be opposed by elements in the United States and resented by Brazil, Peru, Uruguay and other Latin American countries which fear Argentina.

Peron may actually be willing to modify some of his policies to bring about an improvement in relations with the US. On the other hand, his professions of friendship may be simply a tactic in his plan to play off the US and the USSR against each other. Another possibility is that he may hope to obtain something from us without changing any of his policies. (A recent intelligence report2 would support this last possibility.)

Peron’s approach to us has been friendly, vague and general. We have instructed Ambassador Nufer to reply in the same friendly vein and to seek from Peron his opinion as to what the next step toward improving relations should be. Word has also reached him thru McCloy and others that the US is “willing” but that he must do something more to create a favorable atmosphere. He seems to like Nufer, and their next conversation may give a better lead.3

  1. The covering transmittal memorandum, which indicates that President Eisenhower requested this report concerning the current Argentine situation, is not printed. The report was drafted by Messrs. Smith, McWilliams, and Mann.
  2. Reference uncertain.
  3. On Mar. 13, 1953, pursuant to instructions contained in the Department’s telegram 613, supra, Ambassador Nufer met with President Perón to discuss further United States-Argentine relations. Ambassador Nufer’s memorandum of their conversation was transmitted to the Department of State under cover of despatch 1165, from Buenos Aires, dated Mar. 16, 1953. The despatch reads in part as follows:

    “As I had feared, I was unable to elicit from Peron what exactly he may have in mind in allegedly seeking a closer understanding with the United States. The statement that his bid for closer relations carries no price tag notwithstanding, I still feel that his move is inspired by some motive which he is not yet prepared to reveal. On the other hand, his statement that the establishment of a better atmosphere was a prerequisite to closer relations and that other developments would naturally follow once a better atmosphere prevailed seemingly indicates that he takes a realistic view of the problem.

    “The question with which we are now confronted is—Where do we go from here? Before we try to answer this question, we may have to let some time go by to see whether Peron carries through on his promise to keep the local press here effectively under control in so far as anti-U.S. propaganda is concerned. We shall watch this carefully and will also be on the alert for any indications of a firmer stand on his part against communism.” (611.35/3–1653)