Memorandum by the Secretary of State to the President 1



  • Development of Rapprochement with Argentina

In response to your memorandum2 on our relations with Argentina, it is my general feeling that if improvements continue at the present pace—and if we can avoid any setback—matters are developing about as favorably as we could reasonably expect. While the attached paper summarizes recent advances, if you should wish to discuss our Argentine relations further I should be glad to do so at your convenience. Despite Peron’s present friendliness, we should not be altogether surprised if he should fly off on another anti-American tangent.

I agree that Peron’s disinclination to restore the newspaper La Prensa to its former owner (whom he considers to symbolize the feudal economic and social structure which he has tried to reform), and the tenacious interest of the U.S. press in this matter will delay any real public acceptance of Peron in this country. The New York Times has been particularly critical and the United Press, partly because of its important financial connections with La Prensa’s previous owner, has apparently spearheaded the drive for restoration of the paper. For his part, Peron’s position, firmly and publicly stated, is that he will never return La Prensa. Since it now belongs to the Argentine General Confederation of Labor, which numbers 5 million members, he would probably find it difficult to reverse himself even if he wished to do so. I am hopeful that if Peron continues on his present conciliatory course, American public opinion will gradually become more friendly to him.

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Peron’s suspicion that the U.S. Government was secretly working against him and inspiring press attacks was apparently finally allayed only with the general clearing of the atmosphere which resulted from Dr. Eisenhower’s visit to Argentina last summer. I fear that this new and, I hope, sincere confidence of Peron in our intentions would be undermined and possibly destroyed if we were to indicate in any way that we considered the La Prensa case a fit subject for official U.S. advice or discussions—particularly in view of our policy and commitments against intervention in the internal affairs of the other American nations.

To my knowledge, there are at present no significant restrictions on the travel of U.S. citizens within Argentina, although there are limitations on the travel to Uruguay of residents of Argentina, including U.S. citizens. Our Embassy in Buenos Aires has been able to secure exceptions to these controls in particular cases.

John Foster Dulles


Paper Prepared in the Office of South American Affairs3

Improvement in Relations With Argentina

Perhaps the most important single improvement in our relations with Argentina has been the cessation of Argentine propaganda attacks which had undoubtedly had a very divisive effect on the attitude toward the US in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. The cessation of this propaganda is in itself very valuable to us.

Related to this has been the removal of restrictions on the operation of the US press services in Argentina. This has not only meant improved treatment for an important US enterprise, but has also aided full and fair news presentation of our actions and policies. In the same field, Peron has just told our Ambassador that he is taking steps to permit the free entry into Argentina of US periodicals which have heretofore been barred.

The Argentine authorities have also begun to take a much stronger stand against Communism in that country, in both statement and action.

Argentina has also removed discriminatory obstacles to the operation of some US business firms by issuing long delayed import permits for essential production materials. US film distributors have been given [Page 452] clearance on a long list of films whose importation had been held up. Legislation has been enacted designed to attract foreign private capital to Argentina by spelling out permissible profit remittances and capital repatriation. While the law is not entirely attractive in all provisions, it indicates a substantially improved attitude.

The Argentines have cooperated well with us at the present session of the UN General Assembly.

Most of this improvement in relations, which began with the election of President Eisenhower, and was given sharp impetus by the visit of Dr. Milton Eisenhower to Buenos Aires last summer, has consisted in the elimination of activities and situations distasteful to us. There is, however, virtually no possibility that Peron would or could consider eliminating the principal point of grievance in the eyes of the US press, the restoration of the newspaper La Prensa to its former owners. Goaded by New York Times editorial attacks on this matter, Peron recently reaffirmed his stand. This is essentially such an internal Argentine matter, even though it obviously has international and moral implications, that we have been most cautious about raising it with the Argentines in order not to be accused of “intervention.”

  1. Drafted by Deputy Assistant Secretary Woodward; delivered with attachment to the White House on Nov. 19.
  2. Supra.
  3. Apparently drafted by Mr. Dearborn.