733.5 MSP/9–2454

The Ambassador in Uruguay (McIntosh) to the Department of State

No. 123


  • Circular Airgram Control 2139, November 24, 1952.1


  • Report by the U.S. Ambassador to Uruguay to the Director for Mutual Security on the Operation and Status of Programs Under the Mutual Security Act of 1951. Period Covered: January 1 to June 30, 1954.

A. Country’s Adherence to Commitments Made in the Course of MSP Aid Negotiations.

With the entry into effect of the Bilateral Military Assistance Pact on October 14, 1953, the way was cleared during the period under review for sending grant aid matériel provided for under the agreement. It should be pointed out, however, that only the Air Force was able to receive this matériel since the U.S. Air Force Mission in Uruguay was able to function as an Air Force section of MAAG. This was due to the position taken by the Minister of National Defense who, because of the approaching national elections in November 1954, felt it unwise to set up the type of MAAG contemplated by the agreement and which would result in both further expense to the Uruguayan Government (which would have to be covered by an appropriation sought from the Congress) as well as the entry into Uruguay of additional foreign military personnel at a time when this might be criticized by the Blanco Party, which has consistently made an issue of the military bilateral pact.

Conversations were begun in June with the Minister of Foreign Affairs designed to permit the attachment to the Air Mission of four Navy personnel who would then act as a Navy MAAG and permit the shipment of Navy matériel to begin. The outlook was that the Minister of National Defense would agree to this arrangement.

Uruguay’s new National Government will take office on March 1, 1955, and it is hoped that shortly thereafter the position of MAAG can be regularized and to include all three services.

B. Political Developments Affecting Prospects of Adherence to Force Goals, Including Action on Defense Budgets.

The approaching national elections made the majority Colorado Party somewhat timid about full implementation of the pact, as explained above. It was considered a foregone conclusion that the Blancos, [Page 1582] traditionally anti-U.S., who fought the ratification of the bilateral pact in Congress at the time it was under discussion, would also make a campaign issue out of the pact.

C. Major Economic Developments Which Might Appreciably Affect Aid Levels.

Following a slow and uncertain beginning, the world market for Uruguayan wool steadied and improved which, combined with careful control of Uruguay’s imports, resulted in a definitely easier foreign trade position during the period under review. Since wool sales to a large extent determine Uruguay’s prosperity, the good season was reflected in a somewhat improved budgetary position for the Government which, however, was still unable to balance its budget. The series of deficits in recent years, combined with the limited local capital market, have tended to make credit tight and restrict new investment. Following a feeling of disappointment that the Inter-American Conference in Caracas in March did not take up economic questions, as the time of the Economic Conference to be held in Rio de Janeiro2 in November approached, the Government manifested increasing interest in this meeting, at which it hopes major achievements in promoting inter-American economic stability will be forthcoming. A significant economic development during the period under review was the entry of the USSR into the Uruguayan market for heavy purchases principally of meat.

D. Defense Alliances and Other Developments in International Relations Affecting Security.

Uruguay’s relations with its powerful neighbor to the West, Argentina, continued unsatisfactory, with full diplomatic relations interrupted, travel requirements so onerous as to greatly restrict the number of persons each way, and trade substantially curtailed. The Embassy has no reason to believe there is any likelihood of any substantial change in the situation in the near future.

Relations with Brazil continued friendly, although the inroads of Communism and the ineffectualness of the Vargas regime were disturbing thoughtful Uruguayan observers.

There was considerable uneasiness manifested during the period in review over Argentine encroachments in Paraguay.

The Guatemalan situation was followed with great attention in Uruguay, especially since for a time it seemed as though the projected Foreign Ministers’ Conference would be held in Montevideo. Sectors [Page 1583] of the press and public opinion were inclined to discount U.S. motives in the Guatemalan case and to be critical of the U.S. position opposing consideration of the case by the UN Security Council. These developments were heavily exploited by anti-U.S. elements in Uruguay.

E. Effect of MSP Aid in Furthering Internal Political Stability and Security.


F. General Progress in Activation of Planned Forces.


G. General Effect on Progress Toward Force Goals of Deliveries of U.S. Furnished End-Items.

The Air Force Mission continued to perform the duties of an Air Force Section, MAAG, grant aid matériel arrived in substantial quantities, cleared the customs without difficulty and was properly warehoused by the Uruguayan Air Force.

At the beginning of this period very little progress was shown by the UAF. Since that time, as more supplies began to arrive and as greater pressure was placed on them by the US Air Force Mission, a definite change in attitude was observed. The morale of personnel has increased proportionately with the amount of supplies arriving. An increased effort to begin utilizing the equipment and to place aircraft in commission has been undertaken and appears to be improving with each passing month. The tactical aircraft in particular are getting a very high priority of consideration in this program. The B–25s began flying during the latter part of this period for the first time in over a year. Additional F–51s were placed in commission as a direct result of the matériel received.

H. General Ability of Country’ s Defense Establishment to Utilize Military Aid

The personnel problem is increasing in severity as spare parts become available to place aircraft in commission. Sufficient trained specialists to maintain the UAF are not available. The supply and maintenance fields are hardest hit by this shortage of personnel. Every effort, as indicated in other paragraphs of this report, is being made to rectify the situation. Very little improvement can be expected in less than one year, as this is the expected duration of the first training program now under way in the Technical Training School.

The Air Force MAAG is firmly convinced that more progress has been made by the UAF during this six-month period than at any other time since the arrival of the Mission. Key staff personnel have accepted new responsibilities and are pushing the MDA Program in a definite attempt to maintain their portion of the mutual security pact. [Page 1584] Although many major problems still exist, it is felt that the hump is passed and real progress will be shown during the forthcoming period.

I. Major Developments with Respect to Defense Production Plans and Programs.


J. Major Trends with Respect to Economic Development Plans and Programs.


K. Economic and Social Effects of Point IV Programs.

In view of the small scale of the Technical Assistance Programs, the country has no problem in utilizing effectively the assistance being provided. The Health and Sanitation program continued to perform a useful function during the period under review, and in addition there was activity in each of the following fields: Public Administration, Census and Economic Statistics, Industrial Safety, Civil Aviation, Development of National [Natural?] Resources, and the Training of Nationals in the United States. In addition, negotiations were continued for expanding the scope of the Technical Assistance projects being performed to include the following: A university contract for Technical Assistance in Public Administration; an Industrial Productivity Servicio to aid Uruguay with its problems of industrialization; a project of budgetary management in one of the principal Ministries; and a program for exchange of books between the Uruguayan libraries and the U.S. Book Exchange.

L. Attitude of Government and Public toward U.S. Aid Programs.

There was no progress during the period under review toward ratification of the General Agreement on Technical Assistance, which has been awaiting congressional ratification since 1951. It will be recalled that an Agricultural Program for which an agreement was also signed in 1951 had to be abandoned after U.S. experts had spent considerable time in Uruguay because of failure of the Uruguayan Congress to ratify the Agreement. Negotiations for the Industrial Productivity Servicio were proceeding satisfactorily at the close of the period under review and it appeared as though there was definite interest in the Uruguayan Government for concluding this agreement. The dilatoriness of the Government toward the ratification of the General Agreement, however, and the failure of the Agricultural Agreement (which normally would be one of the most important fields for Technical Cooperation), indicates that the present political situation in the Parliament does not create the most favorable condition for requests for additional technical cooperation. It is believed that this factor should be kept in mind in planning new programs and also in connection with any consideration [Page 1585] of extending the life of the Health and Sanitation Agreement which is scheduled to expire in 1955, but which is to be subject to a critical analysis of future needs in November 1954.

Insofar as the general public is aware of what the U.S. is doing in technical assistance for Uruguay, there is a healthy and friendly attitude toward such cooperation. The FOA experts enjoy considerable prestige and assert an effective influence in the spheres in which they operate. It is still doubted whether in the most important activity—the Health and Sanitation Program—the Uruguayan public realizes the extent of the contribution of U.S. taxpayers.

On the side of military aid, the beginning of deliveries of matériel for the Air Force created an excellent impression in the Armed Forces and among top Government officials familiar with the situation. As deliveries are extended to the Navy, and perhaps later to the Army following official establishment of a MAAG, it is certain that this feeling will become even stronger. It is to be desired that at some future stage after the new Government is inaugurated, steps may be taken to educate the Uruguayan public concerning the utility of U.S. cooperation with the Uruguayan military forces.

Dempster McIntosh
  1. Not printed.
  2. Reference is to the Meeting of Ministers of Finance or Economy of the American Republics as the Fourth Extraordinary Meeting of the Inter-American Economic and Social Council (Rio Economic Conference), held at Quitandinha, Brazil, Nov. 22–Dec. 2, 1954; for documentation on the meeting, see pp. 313 ff.