Reference: Our Letter No. 23 of January 25, 1960.†
ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS OF MAY REVOLUTION
I had lunch last week with Ambassador Scilingo. I have referred to this gentleman before as the ‘Foreign Minister’ in the shadow cabinet which President Frondizi maintains at the Case Rosada. Scilingo is a very influential man in the Argentine, an old personal friend of the President’s and in my opinion, very competent. During the lunch, Scilingo referred to the visit of President Mateos of Mexico to the Argentine and said that from all points of view it had been a complete success. His actual words were: “Mateos has helped Latin Americans to rediscover Latin America.” It is the first time that a Mexican President has visited Argentina and he brought to the government here a realization of the size of the Spanish-American community and the influence that it is bound to exert on world affairs as its numbers and strength increase. Projecting current population growths, Mateos reminded Argentina that in another twenty years this would be the third most populous continent. If its economic growth could match its population growth, it would truly be a force to reckon with. With only flimsy language barriers and largely the same historical background and cultures, economic union of the Latin Americas should be simple as compared with the problems facing such unions, say, in Europe.
2. Scilingo expressed the wish that relations between Canada and Argentina could be closer. He said he agreed with Alsogaray that Canada, more than any other nation in the world, could point the way for Argentina. A similarity in population and problems made Canada’s solutions generally more applicable to Argentine conditions than the solutions adopted by more populous countries. In 1938 the Canadian and Argentine economies were roughly at the same level. Today Canada is far ahead and Argentines therefore have a particular interest in the policies we have followed to achieve this result.
3. He suggested that a state visit by a senior member of the Canadian government would be a good first step to closer relations between the two countries. I asked him if he thought a visit by such a representative during the ceremonies for the anniversary celebrations in May would serve. He replied in the negative and for exactly the same reasons as outlined in my letter under reference. He said that Argentina would welcome any Canadian that might be nominated on that occasion but that it was not a good opportunity for useful discussion nor to establish the intimate connections which they wished.
4. There are a number of issues which might be discussed during a visit of the type envisaged by Scilingo and which would be of mutual advantage to both countries. For example, traffic rights for Canadian Pacific Airlines in this part of the world present a problem which could probably be resolved more expeditiously at the time of a Ministerial visit than at any other. The Swiss have been battling this issue for over a year now with no evidence of progress. I am sure that if this question were to be raised by our Minister of External Affairs in a State visit to Argentina, we would make our point without difficulty if only because it would provide some tangible evidence that the visit had been fruitful. I would be happy to prepare a list of items for possible discussion at such a meeting if you will indicate that it would be possible for the Minister to accept an invitation to come to the Argentine sometime later in the year, say in July.
5. Scilingo did NOT ask me officially to get your reaction. He made it quite plain, however, that the Argentine government would welcome a visit from our Minister. I believe it would be a helpful gesture. If you are of the same opinion, I can easily discuss the matter again with Scilingo and get his ideas on timing, length of visit,ÚtÚnerary, etc. I look forward to your comments.
[Richard P. Bower]