130. Telegram From the Embassy in Brazil to the Department of State1

1551. Woodward from Goodwin. Upon arrival in Buenos Aires I had an hour talk with Camilion, I was then taken to meet with Frigerio and Musich. Afterwards to an hour meeting with Carcano and later to talk with Frondizi in the Casa Rosada.

During the entire trip I was followed by a car full of military intelligence agents. The visit received press coverage. My talks left no doubt in my mind that Frigerio is at least the second most powerful man in Argentina, with enormous influence on Frondizi. In foreign policy his voice is the only one that counts while Carcano is an intelligent sincere fellow with very little meaningful influence or authority.

The essence of the Argentine position is: 1. Sanctions are impossible because they are unacceptable to Brazil, Chile etc., and to force them would be to disrupt the inter-American system. 2. It is vital to have a united front of the American nations on this question, because a serious division between the large nations and the small nations plus US would be a serious defeat for American policy and a victory for Castro. [Page 283] 3. Argentina’s position is based on these two factors since its own internal situation is strong enough to permit Argentina to do anything it wishes, including the imposition of sanctions. 4. It is vital to reaffirm the Alliance for Progress and restate the basic principles of the inter-American system in order to give the MFM a wider scope than a mere effort to condemn Castro.

They then showed me their resolutions2 which consisted of: A. A long resolution stating the principles of inter-Americanism and saying that all must adhere to those principles if they were to be members in good standing of the system. Cuba is not mentioned by name but would clearly be excluded under the criteria. (I assume you now have the resolutions and so will not discuss in detail); B. Two other resolutions adopted from Colombia (1) and (2) but with much of the anti-Cuba language watered down.

I informed the Argentines that, as a strictly personal reaction, I found nothing wrong with the ideas of restating the principles of inter-Americanism, although I would want to suggest much modification in the detailed wording of their draft. I went on to say that there was a great deal of feeling in favor of imposing mandatory sanctions. I said we agreed that it was important to achieve agreement between the big nations, and that not to do so would be a serious blow to the system. However, I said, if it was a choice between (A) lack of agreement and the passage of a strong resolution or (B) agreement on a weak and meaningless resolution, then the US would have to choose the former. The ideal solution, of course, would be agreement on a strong and meaningful resolution. I said I realized the problems raised by sanctions and, if we could get agreement among the big nations, perhaps other nations could also agree on a resolution which fell just short of sanctions. If this was not possible then I was afraid the US would be in the same position it found itself before the convocation vote. We would be compelled to vote with the more militant nations; since the only justification for not voting sanctions now would be the agreement of the large nations. I said that a strong resolution would have to have at least three elements: 1. A strong condemnation of Cuba for subordination of sovereignty and attempts to overthrow other governments; 2. Calling upon Cuba, in the strongest possible terms, to renounce these practices etc. (Both these would be along lines contained in the resolutions Woodward and I left with Lleras Camargo.); 3. A strong reporting provision calling for a report, within a specified period of time, as to whether Cuba had complied with the resolution.

[Page 284]

They said the elements of all these were in their resolutions. I agreed, but said they had not stated them forcefully enough or with enough specifics. They said that they thought there was no real difference in principle, but a difference in language only and that they would be willing to accept our stronger language since they realized our public opinion problem etc. I actually showed Carcano the language of condemnation and the call for renunciation contained in the combined draft we left in Colombia. He thought it was a little strong but thought they could accept it, and perhaps sell it to the Brazilians. I did not show him the reporting provisions contained in your latest telegram instructing me to go to Argentina.3 But I continually referred to the necessity of provisions along those lines. (Please have that section of the resolution translated into English.)

In sum, I believe there is a substantial chance that the Argentines will accept a strongly worded resolution which should be acceptable to us. This means a considerably strengthened version of the resolutions they sent to you, very much along the lines we had been considering. I foresee some difficulty with the thirty-day provision. In turn, I believe we should be able to accept their resolution restating the provisions of inter-Americanism. Of course, their version requires considerable editing; especially to avoid the implication that we are buying political support. This resolution is central to their position, does no harm to the other resolutions which are our real interest, and, in fact, will give the conference a broader political base. As to whether there should be one resolution, which we prefer, or three, as they prefer, I do not have a strong view.

Today we are talking with the Brazilians. In the next two days I also expect to have another talk with Dantas and, probably, with Goulart. I urge not precipitous rejection to the Argentine resolution until we have had a chance to strengthen it, and try it on them. I believe they will send Camilion to Washington some time next week. It looks probable that Dantas also will come to Washington about January 9 or 10; although his health situation is still precarious.

Gordon and I are preparing a general commentary on the US position which we will send before the end of the week.

I also spent three hours in Montevideo talking with Sparks. Of course, the Uruguayans have no clearly defined position. However, after talking with Sparks and the Argentines (who are in constant contact with the Uruguayans) I believe it is probable that they will follow Argentina and Brazil.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 371.04/1-462. Confidential; Niact. Repeated to Buenos Aires and Montevideo.
  2. Three Argentine draft resolutions were enclosed with a letter of January 2 from Frondizi to Kennedy. (Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, Argentina, General) Telegram 1218 to Buenos Aires, January 5, reported that the letter had been delivered to the White House on January 4. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/1-362)
  3. Reference is to telegram 1806 to Rio de Janeiro, December 30. (Ibid., 371.04/12-2961)