On 12 March 1943, while proposals for reforming the income tax system were being discussed in the United States, an unusual letter to the editor in support of the reform appeared in The New York Times. It was written by an Argentine statesman who spoke out and confidently described the advantages of Argentina’s tax system by comparison to the great power of the north, a system which in his words »already contain[s] all those features which seem so new to the American public.« This was the heyday of Pan-Americanism, a political movement that originated in the nineteenth century and that now, in the face of the fascist threat, fostered close cooperation between the American nations while aiming to overcome the politics of dominance pursued by the USA. The attitude of the letter reflects this well, for example when the author reports on mechanisms to prevent tax avoidance by foreign shareholders, as US capital had gained more and more influence in Argentina since the turn of the century. Indeed, Felix J. Weil (1898–1975), the author of that letter, an Argentine citizen who ten years earlier had been significantly involved in the implementation of the Argentine income tax law, had since 1939 advocated the ideas of Pan-Americanism both as a scholar and public intellectual.
By the time the letter appeared, Weil was no longer living in Argentina but in the USA. Nonetheless, he took on the role of an outside observer, based in New York but still writing of »our tax system« and »our congress« by reference to Argentina. Perhaps it was for strategic reasons that he foregrounded his role as an Argentine statesman, which in this case endowed him with more authority. Yet it seems that apart from his obvious intentions, some remote events found a distant echo in this unassuming letter to the editor. This echo manifests itself in the very last words written by the author: For the first time in a text intended for a broader audience, he no longer signed his name as »Felix Weil,« but as »Felix J. Weil,« a gesture with implications that only become clear in view of his life theretofore.