Argentina–United States relations

Argentine–American relations

United States


The Obelisco and the Washington Monument, iconic symbols of both Buenos Aires and Washington.

The Argentine Republic and the United States of America have maintained bilateral relations since the United States formally recognized the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, the predecessor to Argentina, on January 27, 1823. Since 1998, Argentina has been the only designated major non-NATO ally in Latin America, partly owing to Argentina's assistance to the United States in the Gulf War.

Relations have been strained at times over the past few years, especially during the Cristina Fernández de Kirchner administration, but they have improved since President Mauricio Macri came to power in late 2015.


After Argentina became independent from Spanish rule, the United States formally recognized the United Provinces of the Río de la Plata, the legal predecessor to Argentina, on January 27, 1823. The bilateral relations have seesawed over the last century and a half between periods of greater cooperation and periods of tension over ideology and finance. There has never been a threat of war.[1]


Argentina was integrated into the British international economy in the late 19th century; there was minimal trade with the United States. When the United States began promoting the Pan American Union, some Argentines were suspicious that it was indeed a device to lure the country into the US economic orbit, but most businessmen responded favorably and bilateral trade grew briskly. Relations soured when Argentina refused to join the Allies in the First World War. Argentina had large British and German populations and both countries had made large-scale investments in Argentina. However, as a prosperous neutral it greatly expanded trade with the United States during the war and exported meat, grain and wool to the Allies particularly to Britain, providing generous loans and becoming a net creditor to the Allied side, a policy known as "benevolent neutrality".[2]


Argentina's policy during WW2 was marked by two distinct phases. During the early years of the war, Argentine President Roberto M. Ortiz sought to provide economic support to the Allies as during WWI, even proposing to US President Roosevelt that both countries join the Allies together as non-belligerents in 1940. However his proposal was snubbed at the time, as Roosevelt was in the middle of elections.[2]

Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour, US foreign-policy worked to unite all of Latin America in a coalition against Germany. Argentina's neutralist stance, however, had hardened following the resignation of President Ortiz due to diabetes, and the United States worked to pressure the Argentine government, against the wishes of Britain which supported Argentine neutrality in an effort to maintain vital provisions of beef and wheat to the Allies safe from German U-boat attacks.[2] Most of the beef and wheat consumed in the British Isles came from Argentina.[3]

Washington policy backfired when the military seized power in a coup in 1943. Relations grew worse, prompting the powerful farm lobby in Washington to promote economic and diplomatic isolation of Argentina and to try unsuccessfully to keep it out of the United Nations, a policy reversed when Argentina, along other Latin American countries that still remained neutral, declared war on Germany in 1945. While Argentina hosted a fairly organized pro-Nazi element before the Second World War that was controlled by German ambassadors; Brazil, Chile, and Mexico had similar movements as well, and historians[4] agree that the supposed affinity between Argentina and Germany was greatly exaggerated.[5]

The Argentine government remained neutral until the closing weeks of the war, albeit quietly tolerated entry of Nazi scientists and some notable war criminals fleeing Europe as the conflict ended. Historians have shown there was little gold and probably not many Nazis, but the myths lived on and helped sour relations with the United States.[6][7]


By 1976, human rights groups in USA were denouncing the "Dirty War" waged against leftist dissidents by the repressive military regime in Argentina.[8][9] They demanded congressional control over foreign aid funding to regimes violating human rights. The US State Department saw Argentina as a bulwark of anti-Communism in South America and in early April 1976, the US Congress approved a request by the Ford Administration, written and supported by Henry Kissinger, to grant $50,000,000 in security assistance to the junta.[10]

In 1977 and 1978 the United States sold more than $120,000,000 in military spare parts to Argentina, and in 1977 the US Department of Defense granted $700,000 to train 217 Argentine military officers.[11] By the mid-1970s, at a time when détente with the USSR softened the anti-Communism issue and President Jimmy Carter highlighted issues of human rights, United States activists escalated their attacks and in 1978 secured a congressional cutoff of all US arms transfers to Argentina.[12] Argentina then turned largely to Israel for weapons sales.

U.S.-Argentine relations improved dramatically under the Reagan Administration, which asserted that the previous Carter Administration had weakened US diplomatic relationships with Cold War allies in Argentina, and reversed the previous administration's official condemnation of the junta's human rights practices. The re-establishment of diplomatic ties allowed for CIA collaboration with the Argentine intelligence service in arming and training the Nicaraguan Contras against the Sandinista government. The 601 Intelligence Battalion, for example, trained Contras at Lepaterique base, in Honduras.[13] Argentina also provided security advisors, intelligence training and some material support to forces in Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to suppress local rebel groups as part of a U.S.-sponsored program called Operation Charly.

Argentine military and intelligence cooperation with the Reagan Administration ended in 1982, when Argentina seized the British territory of the Falkland Islands in an attempt to quell domestic and economic unrest. The move was condemned by the US, who provided intelligence to the British government in its quest to regain control over the islands.

The United States has a positive bilateral relationship with Argentina based on many common strategic interests, including non-proliferation, counternarcotics, counterterrorism, the fight against human trafficking, and issues of regional stability, as well as the strength of commercial ties. Argentina signed a Letter of Agreement with the U.S. Department of State in 2004, opening the way for enhanced cooperation with the U.S. on counternarcotics issues and enabling the U.S. to begin providing financial assistance to the Government of Argentina for its counternarcotics efforts. In recognition of its contributions to international security and peacekeeping, the U.S. Government designated Argentina as a major non-NATO ally in January 1998.

The Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Argentine Ministry of Defense hold an annual Bilateral Working Group Meeting, alternating between Argentina and Washington, D.C. Furthermore, both nations exchange information through alternating annual Joint Staff Talks, military educational exchanges, and operational officer exchange billets.Argentina is a participant in the Three-Plus-One regional mechanism (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and the U.S.), which focuses on coordination of counter-terrorism policies in the tri-border region.[14]

Argentina has endorsed the Proliferation Security Initiative, and has implemented the Container Security Initiative and the Trade Transparency Unit, both of which are programs administered by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security/Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Container Security Initiative provides for the selective scanning of shipping containers to identify weapons of mass destruction components, and the Trade Transparency Unit works jointly with Argentine Customs to identify trade-based money laundering. The Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering highlighted Argentine legislation passed during 2013 issuing new regulations strengthening suspicious transaction reporting requirements.[15] Currently, the United States holds a position of neutrality on the issue of the ownership of the Falkland Islands. While the United States acknowledges "de facto" control of the Falklands by the United Kingdoms, it has no position on which sovereignty claim over the islands would be right.[16]

Trade and investment

U.S.-Argentine cooperation also includes science and technology initiatives in the fields of space, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and the environment. In June 2007, the U.S. and Argentina modernized a bilateral civil aviation agreement to update safety and security safeguards and allow a significant increase in flight frequencies between the two countries, which hold excellent potential for increased tourism and business travel. An active media, together with widespread interest in culture and society from the USA, make Argentina a receptive environment for the information and cultural exchange work of the U.S. Embassy. The Fulbright scholarship program has more than tripled the annual number of U.S. and Argentine academic grantees since 1994, and the U.S. Embassy is actively working to increase other education exchanges.

The stock of U.S. investment in Argentina reached $13.3 billion in 2011, 14% of all foreign direct investment in Argentina at the time and second only to Spain. U.S. investment in Argentina is concentrated in the energy, manufacturing, information technology, and financial sectors. US-based firms comprised nearly 1/3 of the 100 most respected companies in Argentina published annually by Argentina's largest newspaper, Clarín.[17]

The United States is Argentina's fourth-largest export market (mainly energy staples, steel, and wine), and third-largest source of imports (mainly industrial supplies such as chemicals and machinery).[18] Argentina itself is a relatively minor trade partner for the United States, its imports from the U.S. of $9.9 billion making up 0.7% of total U.S. exports and its exports to the U.S. of $4.5 billion only 0.2% of U.S. imports; Argentina however is among the few nations with which the United States routinely maintains significant merchandise trade surpluses,[19] and the $5.4 billion surplus with Argentina in 2011 was the tenth-largest for the U.S. in the world.[20] The U.S. earned a further $4.1 billion surplus in trade in services with Argentina in 2011.[21] A record 690,000 Argentine nationals visited the United States in 2013, making Argentina the 15th largest source of foreign tourism into the U.S.[22]

In 2012 Argentina requested the assistance of the World Trade Organization in hosting consultations to discuss the United States ban on Argentinian lemons.

Public opinion

Global opinion polls taken in 2006, 2007 and 2012 show that Argentine public opinion had become skeptical of U.S. foreign policy at the time. According to the U.S. Global Leadership Report, only 19% of Argentines approved of U.S. foreign policy, the lowest rating for any surveyed country in the Americas.[23][24]

Argentine public opinion of the U.S. and its policies improved during the Obama administration, in 2010 was divided about evenly (42% to 41%) between those who approve or disapprove. As of 2015, Argentine views of the United States' policies are evenly divided with 43% of Argentines having a favorable view and 43% having an unfavorable view.[25]

U.S. Embassy Functions

The U.S. Mission in Buenos Aires carries out the traditional diplomatic function of representing the U.S. Government and people in discussions with the Argentine Government, and more generally, in relations with the people of Argentina. The Embassy is focused on increasing people-to-people contacts, and promoting outreach and exchanges on a wide range of issues.

Political, economic, and science officers deal directly with the Argentine Government in advancing U.S. interests but are also available to brief U.S. citizens on general conditions in the country. Officers from the U.S. Foreign Service, Foreign Commercial Service, and Foreign Agricultural Service work closely with the hundreds of U.S. companies that do business in Argentina, providing information on Argentine trade and industry regulations and assisting U.S. companies starting or maintaining business ventures in Argentina.

Consular Section

The embassy's Consular Section monitors the welfare and whereabouts of more than 20,000 U.S. citizen residents of Argentina and more than 250,000 U.S. tourists each year.

Consular personnel also provide US citizens passport, voting, notary, Social Security, and other services. With the end of Argentine participation in the Visa Waiver Program in February 2002, Argentine tourists, students, and those who seek to work in the United States must have nonimmigrant visas. The Consular Section processes non-immigrant visa applications for persons who wish to visit the United States for tourism, studies, temporary work, or other purposes, and immigrant visas for persons who qualify to make the United States a permanent home.


Attaches accredited to Argentina from the U.S. Department of Justice (including the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Federal Bureau of Investigation), the Department of Homeland Security (including Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection), the Federal Aviation Administration, and other federal agencies work closely with Argentine counterparts on international law enforcement cooperation, aviation security, and other issues of concern. The U.S. Department of Defense is represented by the U.S. Military Group and the Defense Attache Office. These organizations ensure close military-to-military contacts, and defense and security cooperation with the armed forces of Argentina.

Principal U.S. Embassy Officials

U.S. Fifth Circuit Judge Edward C. Prado was nominated to the post of Ambassador to Argentina by President Donald Trump on January 17, 2018. The post had been vacant since the resignation of Noah Mamet a year earlier, during which time Chargé d'Affaires Tom Cooney served as acting ambassador.[26]

Ambassador of Argentina to the United States

Fernando Oris de Roa, an executive with extensive experience in Argentine agriculture, was appointed Ambassador to the United States by President Mauricio Macri on January 11, 2018.[27]

The post had been vacant since the April 3, 2017, resignation of Martín Lousteau over an arms procurement scandal involving a $2 billion request disclosed by the office of Congressman Pete Visclosky but not authorized by the Argentine Congress.[28] Chargé d'Affaires Sergio Pérez Gunella had served as acting ambassador in the interim.

Diplomatic missions

See also


 This article incorporates public domain material from the United States Department of State website (U.S. Bilateral Relations Fact Sheets).

  1. Joseph S. Tulchin, Argentina and the United States: A Conflicted Relationship (1990)
  2. 1 2 3 Carlos Escudé. "Historia General de las Relaciones Exteriores de la República Argentina".
  3. Alan Knight (2011). The Oxford History of the British Empire: Volume III: The Nineteenth Century. Oxford University Press. p. 122.
  4. Jürgen Müller, Nationalsozialismus in Lateinamerika: Die Auslandsorganisation der NSDAP in Argentinien, Brasilien, Chile und Mexiko, 1931–1945 (1997) 567pp.
  5. Randall B. Woods, "Hull and Argentina: Wilsonian Diplomacy in the Age of Roosevelt," Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (1974) 16#3 pp. 350–371 in JSTOR
  6. Ronald C. Newton, The "Nazi Menace" in Argentina, 1931–1947 (Stanford U.P., 1992)
  7. Daniel Stahl, "Odessa und das 'Nazigold' in Südamerika: Mythen und ihre Bedeutungen' ["Odessa and "Nazi Gold" in South America: Myths and Their Meanings"] Jahrbuch fuer Geschichte Lateinamerikas (2011), Vol. 48, pp 333–360.
  8. Paul H. Lewis, Guerrillas and Generals: the ‘Dirty War’ in Argentina (Praeger, 2002)
  9. Thomas C. Wright, State Terrorism in Latin America: Chile, Argentina, and International Human Rights (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007)
  10. On 30th Anniversary of Argentine Coup: New Declassified Details on Repression and U.S. Support for Military Dictatorship. Retrieved August 6, 2010.
  11. Guest, 1990; pg. 166
  12. William Michael Schmidli, "Human rights and the Cold War: the campaign to halt the Argentine 'dirty war'’", Cold war history (2012) 12#2 pp 345–365. online
  13. "Los secretos de la guerra sucia continental de la dictadura", Clarín, March 24, 2006 (in Spanish)
  15. "Improving Global AML/CFT Compliance: on-going process". FATF. February 14, 2014.
  16. Pike, John. "Argentina – US Relations". Retrieved 2017-02-03.
  17. "Doing business in Argentina".
  18. "Argentine Foreign Trade Statistics (2011)" (PDF). INDEC.
  19. "Trade in goods with Argentina". U.S. Census Bureau.
  20. "Top Ten Countries with which the U.S. has a Trade Surplus". U.S. Census Bureau.
  21. "U.S. international services: private services trade by area and country". BEA.
  22. "Argentina, entre los países que más turistas envían a EE.UU". InfoNews. May 4, 2014.
  23. U.S. Global Leadership Project Report – 2012 Gallup
  24. "World Publics Reject US Role as the World Leader" (PDF). The Chicago Council on Public Affairs. December 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 20, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2013.
  25. "Argentina – Opinion of the United States". Pew Research Center. 2012.
  26. "Trump nominates Edward Prado as US ambassador to Argentina". Buenos Aires Times. 18 January 2018.
  27. "President appoints four ambassadors by decree". Buenos Aires Times. 13 January 2018.
  28. "Renunció Lousteau". Unidiversidad. 3 April 2017.

Further reading

  • Bemis, Samuel Flagg. "Early Diplomatic Missions from Buenos Aires to the United States 1811–1824," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society (1939) 49 (1). pp 11–101.
  • Russell, Roberto. "Argentina and the United States: a distant relationship," in Jorge I. Domínguez, Rafael Fernández de Castro, eds, Contemporary U.S.-Latin American Relations (2011) pp 101–23. online
  • Tulchin, Joseph S. Argentina and the United States: A Conflicted Relationship (1990)
  • Woods, Randall B. "Hull and Argentina: Wilsonian Diplomacy in the Age of Roosevelt" Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs 16#3 (1974) pp. 350–371 online
  • Woods, Randall Bennett. The Roosevelt Foreign-Policy Establishment and the Good Neighbor: The United States and Argentina, 1941-1945 (1979)
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