The Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Cabot) to the Chargé in Uruguay (Trueblood)1


Dear Eddie: I am very grateful to you for your letter of October 262 and am naturally much distressed at the violence of the Uruguayan reaction to our rapprochement with Peron. I frankly find myself a little puzzled at the tenor of this reaction.

I should think that the Uruguayans would realize that, since we have signed solemn commitments of nonintervention, we should live up to them. Even if we had not made any such commitment, it strikes me that it would be inherently poor diplomacy to cultivate bad relations with every government we didn’t altogether like. If we were to seek quarrels rather than conciliation, we should have to complain of the dictatorships in several other Latin American republics; we should have to complain of graft in practically every one of them; we should have to complain of mismanagement and inefficiency in others; we should have to complain at the treatment of American companies in a number of countries, including Uruguay; and we should have to take into account all sorts of unfriendly sentiments expressed from time to time by officials or officially-inspired media of publicity in yet others. Considering that we maintain cordial relations with Tito, Franco, Chiang, Syngman Rhee and an assorted group of heads of government whose policies are not altogether to our liking, it frankly seems to me that this is a very shortsighted attitude to take. In the present state of [Page 1570] world affairs we simply cannot afford the luxury of quarreling unless we have to.

The fact is that Peron has shown his intentions to improve relations with us by a whole series of actions. I need merely cite the cessation of the vicious Argentine propaganda against us throughout the Hemisphere and the vastly improved position of American news agencies and periodicals to show the important advantages we have secured by a conciliatory policy.

With regard to Uruguay’s position vis-à-vis Argentina, one of the reasons (a minor rather than a major one, to be perfectly truthful) that we sought to improve our relations with Argentina was the thought that it would help Uruguay in the jam in which she has gotten herself in her relations with Argentina. The Uruguayans should appreciate that these matters will not be settled in a day and that they would be well advised to be conciliatory rather than stiff necked. I do feel, however, that relations between Argentina and Uruguay are likely to improve as a result of the improvement in relations between Argentina and the United States.

With regard to our economic policies, I am frankly at a loss to understand the Uruguayan position. Since I have not studied our trade agreement and its applicability to the particular situations we face today, I do not know which would be the more hurt if the Uruguayans should denounce it. However, my impression is that the Uruguayans have blandly ignored it whenever it suited their convenience. We have, of course, imposed countervailing duties on their wool tops and I think you know how much we in this Department regretted that decision. I hope that the reduction in this duty of which Mora will be informed today will somewhat assuage their wrath. They seem, however, to overlook the fact that, due to their monkeying with the exchange rate, wool tops were really muscling into our domestic market and that they did nothing effective about it when we warned them that they were heading for trouble. I do not know whether we are equally misinformed in thinking that only a few Uruguayan firms were directly affected by this order. I would say that we had an equal right to feel aggrieved regarding such Uruguayan moves as the UN resolution they sponsored which tried to pull the rug from under our foreign investments or the way in which they have hamstrung our packing companies in Uruguay.

I am very seriously concerned as to what might happen to our relations with Uruguay if we increase the duty on wool. As you must be aware, we have been doing everything we can in the Department to fight this possibility, but we are up against very serious opposition. If the increase should go through I would understand Uruguayan resentment, but at the moment I think they are being more emotional than [Page 1571] reasonable in their attitude toward the United States. However, they’re not the only ones in the world.

You were, of course, right in reporting these things even though they seem unreasonable and make unpleasant reading. You might give my personal greetings to Juan Yriart and tell him that so far as I am aware I haven’t yet started to grow horns.

With every good wish,

Very sincerely yours,

John M. Cabot
  1. Drafted by Mr. Cabot.
  2. Not printed.