Through the analysis of Argentina-World Bank (WB) relations between 1971 and 1976, this article examines how democracies and dictatorships, as well as political and economic constraints did (or did not) impact WB lending to Latin America. This period is especially revealing. Between May 1971 and September 1976, the WB did not grant any new loans to Argentina, thereby generating an exceptional and unusually long break in WB lending to the country. Drawing on previously undisclosed files from the WB Archives and additional primary sources from Argentina and the United States, this article unveils the actual mechanisms, criteria and justification that stood behind the decision to lend or not to lend to Argentina. It maintains that the WB’s self-imposed principle of «neutrality» played a crucial role in facilitating the WB’s relations with Argentina during the politically and economically unstable early 1970s.