546. Letter From the Ambassador in Uruguay (Mcintosh) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs (Holland)1

Dear Henry: During a private meeting which I had yesterday with President Batlle Berres, the President commented at length regarding the situation in Argentina2 and expressed great optimism regarding future relations between Uruguay and that country.

It is obviously true that at present there is a very strong feeling of comradeship between Argentina and Uruguay. The revolt in Argentina, of course, had the moral support of practically the entire population of Uruguay and the victory of the revolutionary forces was welcomed in Montevideo and throughout Uruguay with almost hysterical enthusiasm. In Argentina also, there has been a strong reaction against the previous attitude of Perón towards Uruguay, and the principal officials in the new Argentine government have taken advantage of every opportunity to praise their brothers in Uruguay and with great emotion to thank Uruguay for its spiritual and moral help. A large group of Uruguayan journalists proceeded to Buenos Aires immediately following the establishment of the new government and they were given a royal welcome by the Argentine government and by the people of Buenos Aires. Montevideo has likewise extended a tremendous welcome to the officers and the crews of the two Argentine warships, the Cervantes and the 9 De Julio, which have been in the harbor of Montevideo during the last few days and which have returned to Buenos Aires carrying a large group of Argentine exiles back to Argentina, as well as the bodies of the five sailors on the Cervantes who were killed during the revolution.

Batlle Berres expressed the feeling that Argentina and Uruguay will work together very closely in the future and that Uruguay will be helped economically and in other ways by the fact that they will now have a strong and friendly neighbor to the South instead of the enemy which Uruguay considered Perón to be. It occurs to me however, that in their enthusiasm over the downfall of Perón, the Uruguayans are overlooking the fact that the new Argentine government, although now friendly to Uruguay, is still a military, not a democratically elected government, and may continue as such for an [Page 1094] indefinite period in the future. Also, I feel that to some extent the present attitude of Uruguay towards the new Argentine government is inconsistent with the well-known Uruguayan attitude of hostility towards Pérez Jiménez, Somoza, Trujillo, Castillo Armas, etc., none of whom have ever harmed Uruguay. The theoretical and moralistic attitude of Uruguay towards military non-democratic governments in other countries is apparently subject to modification when Uruguay’s own interests are directly involved as in Argentina.3

While discussing Argentina, Batlle Berres said that confidentially, talking to me as a friend and fellow “criollo”, he felt obliged to mention that Ambassador Nufer was very much disliked by the new Argentine government and that he, Batlle Berres, felt that it was important that the United States should realize this. Batlle Berres went on to say that Ambassador Nufer was generally regarded in Argentina as having been too friendly with Perón. The remarks of Batlle Berres were naturally embarrassing to me and my only comment was that in my opinion, Ambassador Nufer was a very good man, with long experience in the American Foreign Service and very highly regarded. There was no further comment by Batlle Berres.

I have hesitated to write you regarding the above, particularly since I personally have a high opinion of Ambassador Nufer and consider him a fine representative of our country. The fact that the new Argentine government would not feel well disposed towards an Ambassador who had been accredited to the former Perón government, and had shown a high degree of success in conducting relations with that government, is certainly not surprising and does not involve any reflection upon Ambassador Nufer. Please understand, therefore, that I have written this without any desire whatsoever to indicate any criticism of Ambassador Nufer and only because I have felt called upon to convey to you the remarks made by the President of Uruguay.4

Sincerely yours,

Dempster McIntosh
  1. Source: Department of State, Holland Files: Lot 57 D 295, Miscellaneous. Secret; Official–Informal.
  2. Reference is to the revolt which led to the resignation of Argentine President Juan Domingo Perón on September 19.
  3. In his response of October 12, Holland wrote, in part: “I was greatly interested in your point that the Uruguayans are being excessively enthusiastic over the provisional government in Buenos Aires, but I wonder if you aren’t perhaps being a little hard on them. It is true that this government is largely military, and of course not elected. On the other hand, only the military could overthrow Perón, and it seems to me not unnatural that they should thereafter assume the responsibility for restoring law and order.” (Department of State, Holland Files: Lot 57 D 295, Miscellaneous)
  4. In his letter of October 12, Holland wrote: “I quite understand your embarrassment over the President’s remarks about Ambassador Nufer; you handled it, I believe, in the only way you could. If anything like this comes up again you may certainly state that the Department believes that Nufer has done—and is still doing—a splendid job in Argentina, and has the hearty backing of the Department.”