President Roberto Ortiz, a legalitarian conservative devoted to traditions, could not feel sympathy for anti-liberal and demagogic tendencies, nor believe that he could enslave and exploit them without danger. In May 1938 foreign institutions of education and culture were subjected to supervision and the teaching of doctrines contrary to the principles enshrined in the constitution was prohibited. A year later, popular opinion moved by the publication of a revealing document of German designs on Patagonia, all associations that received funds or managers from abroad were banned. But in the Pan-American Conference in Lima (December 1938), the attitude of the Argentine Foreign Minister JM Cantilo, who managed to get a mere declaration of principles about continental defense approved,
In February 1939 Argentina, simultaneously with France and Great Britain, recognized the government of General F. Franco in Spain; and concluded, between 1937 and 1939 (also with Italy, 1 June 1939) a series of bilateral agreements for compensated exchanges, in contrast – despite generic declarations and the introduction of the “most favored nation” clause in some trade treaties – with the principle of “triangular trade” advocated by the US Secretary of State C. Hull.
The outbreak of the Second World War deprived Argentina of one of its best markets: Germany, and this while the economic situation was still difficult, due to the bad harvest of 1938 and the budget deficit. But it was able to maintain, indeed intensify, trade with Great Britain, whose large purchases of foodstuffs led to an increase in agricultural production as early as 1940; while the United States took over from Germany, raising imports into Argentina from 17.2% (1939) to 29, the(1940) and exports from it from 12 to 17.5%. But Great Britain paid in blocked pounds and despite the agreements with Bolivia, Brazil and Japan, the trade balance remained passive: therefore an import control was introduced, especially harmful to the United States, which granted credits for 110 million dollars. After two years of negotiations, in October 1941, a trade treaty granted major concessions to all Argentine exports to the United States, except frozen meats, due to the opposition of US farmers: not the least reason for Argentine resentment. to the United States.
According to INSIDEWATCH, the good business relations with Great Britain, together with the prestige and traditional influence of this country on the economic life and customs of Argentina, attracted great sympathies to it. Great was also the fascination exercised by France; but it largely vanished with the disappointment caused by its collapse in 1940 and the resulting divisions between proponents of “Free France” and the Vichy government. Which swelled the number of those who hoped for the victory of the totalitarian states, that is, of many conservatives in whose soul – despite the Russo-German pact (which instead inspired the line of conduct followed by the Communists) – this sentiment was strengthened by the aversion to communism and distrust of the United States. The undemocratic tendencies were also manifested in the exaltation, that some did, by JM de Rosas; and they were strengthened by the energetic, well-directed, resourceful and unscrupulous activity of Fascist and National Socialist propaganda, and by the work of Spanish Catholic religious who took refuge in Argentina; against whom other Catholics could do little by denouncing the anti-religious action of National Socialism, and political refugees (Spanish republicans, Italian anti-fascists) and racial refugees. The example of H. Yrigoyen acted on the conservatives in government; the conviction that, while the war could provide great gains (the trade balance was active again in 1941), the outcome, whatever it was, would not affect Argentine interests; and the hope of obtaining those Malvinas that Argentina claimed in all the conferences between American states, in Panamá and Havana, where he strove to mitigate or reduce the proposals made or advocated by the United States, also opposing the surrender of naval bases in Uruguay for the common defense of the continent. Still, vigilance over National Socialist activities continued and there were anti-German demonstrations in Buenos Aires in May 1940, following the sinking of an Argentine ship.
Discussions on foreign policy were matched by equally and even more ardent ones on domestic policy.
President Ortiz, impressed by the news on the frauds in the provincial elections, wanted to intervene and cancel, in February 1940, those of Catamarca and Buenos Aires; apparently he was preparing to govern with the support of at least a part of the radicals, now in the majority, when in July poor health forced him to leave the exercise of power to vice-president Ramón Castillo. Ortiz returned to Congress in August, when the scandal for serious irregularities in the sale of some military land led him to resign; rejected which, he restored power to Castillo, who appointed new ministers: including JA Roca, for Foreign Affairs. He had joined, together with the deputy H. Pueyrredón, MT Alvear and others in a pro-Allied committee; but he resigned in January 1941, and was replaced by E. Ruiz Guiñazú. A disagreement then began between the government and the chamber; however, having learned in May that a very serious eye disease had been added to the diabetes, from which Ortiz had been suffering for some time, the radicals first decided to moderate their opposition. Castillo and Ruiz were proponents of the strictest neutrality, not without sympathy for Germany; in June and July the existence of National Socialist espionage organizations under the German ambassador E. v. was revealed. Thermann, whom the chamber declared “persona non grata”; the government dropped it.