British Universities Film & Video Council

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The Argentine Question


Series Name
The March of Time 7th Year


Issue No.
Date Released
Apr 1942
Stories in this Issue:
  1. 1The Argentine Question


Story No. within this Issue
1 / 1
The March of Time synopsis: Early in 1942, when other American republics broke with the common enemy, the Argentine postponed action, though its President, Ramon Castillo, still stoutly maintains that he is a firm friend of the democracies. Today, though no political party in the Argentine Congress favours the nation’s entrance into the present war, the majority of its senators and deputies are strongly anti-Nazi.
Months ago the Chamber of Deputies appointed a committee to investigate and oppose the widespread Nazi espionage and Axis propaganda then being carried on in Argentina, and, working with the Argentine secret police it has already brought to light an Axis scheme to rule all South America by a coup which was to be engineered by Nazi diplomats working with a Fifth Column made up from those of German birth or extraction living in Argentina. But despite all Axis efforts to gain Argentine collaboration, an overwhelming majority of all the people are united in their hatred of Nazism. As a result of the Congressional disclosures the Argentine Government has frozen Azis assets and come down on Nazi operated airlines and Nazi controlled radio stations.

For though Argentina’s economic need is for European, rather than American markets, for her huge exports of beef and grain, though she cannot see how she can afford to neglect these markets after the war, she is yet uniting to resist everything totalitarian. As a nation the Argentines have lived by their exports. It is foreign trade that built Buenos Aires, the great city with the New York skyline and the Parisian atmosphere, in which one third of the Argentine’s thirteen millions live and work. Though an American republic they feel more bound to Europe than to the United States, for Europe has always bought the goods they had to sell. And though the war has now cut off most of this trade they know that after the war, they will have to do business with Europe again. Even stronger than commercial ties is the feeling of the Argentine people that they are bound to Europe by a common culture. The wealthy pride themselves on their faithful adherence to European social and cultural institutions - Buenos Aires follows Paris in matters of art, and, of the population as a whole, the majority are spiritually bound to Rome.

Today Argentina is one of the few South American nations, that has a large middle class public - the kind of men and women, neither rich nor poor, who in every country are the backbone of democracy. Like all civilized people they hate war and love the quiet pursuits of peace, and it is natural that they should hope that in their remoteness from both Europe and North America they may see this terrible conflict pass them by. Argentina is not self-supporting. She lacks vital minerals like coal and iron. She has scarcely begun to develop her own armament and unless she can but and ship munitions and other war essentials from the U.S.A. she could hardly fight if she would. But Argentina cannot hope to escape the effects of war. Already for want of ships her docks are piled high with food surpluses. Though she has abundance of wool and cotton she lacks machinery to convert it into cloth. She has tons of grain which could be used to make alcohol for munitions but lacks the distilling machinery. Though her silos and granaries are filled to bursting Nazi submarines and lack of ocean tonnage make it impossible to ship much of it abroad. And as the film points out, Argentina’s refusal to break with the Axis makes it impossible for her to dismiss all Axis agents, and however sincere her intentions to remain neutral their very presence on the American continent threatens American security. Enlightened Argentines know furthermore that other nations, progressive and peace-loving as themselves, have failed dismally, some fatally, through their policy of attempting to appease the Axis powers. The Argentines, through the democracy they have been building for the past hundred years, know what it means to themselves and to their children to live in a free country. Today the thoughtful among them know that the time has come when every nation must make its final and inescapable choice in the great world struggle between democracy and despotism.
Researcher Comments
This story was included in Vol.8 No.8 of the US edition.
Economics; Foreign relations; Business and commerce; Industry and manufacture; War and conflict; Fuels
Written sources
Documentary News Letter   Vol.3 No.4 April 1942, p54.
The March of Time Promotional Material   Lobby Card, Used for synopsis
Production Co.
Time Inc.

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