124. National Intelligence Estimate1

NIE 91–65


The Problem

To assess the situation in Argentina, and to estimate the prospects for the Illia administration through the congressional elections scheduled for the spring of 1967.


During its nearly two years in office, the Illia administration has achieved for Argentina the longest period of political stability in its recent history, but has failed to develop a strong base of popular and congressional support. During the same period the Argentine economy has experienced a recovery, but only to the level it had achieved in 1961. The Illia administration has failed to cope effectively with inflationary pressures or to make headway with the measures required to promote balanced economic growth. (Paras. 7–30)
The March 1965 congressional elections marked the return of the Peronists as a major legitimate political force. The trend toward a political polarization around the Illia administration and the Peronist opposition will probably develop further in the congressional and gubernatorial elections in 1967. (Paras. 12, 34)
To avert a Peronist landslide in the 1967 elections, President Illia will have to act more vigorously to create an attractive political alternative to Peronism. We believe it unlikely that he can do so. Alternatively, he will have to devise some way to restrict Peronist participation in the election. This would, of course, frustrate the endeavor to reintegrate the Peronists into the normal political system. The reaction of the die-hard Peronists would be violent, but could almost certainly be contained. (Paras. 34, 37)
The Argentine military remain the only element capable of overthrowing the government. The officers now in control of the military establishment would prefer to preserve the constitutional regime. However, the military leadership in general has been antagonized by the frustration of its desire for Argentina to play a leading role in the OAS peacekeeping force in the Dominican Republic. Some officers who have long regarded the Illia administration as weak and ineffectual are now less disposed than ever to make due allowance for its political handicaps. Whether the Argentine military will overthrow the Illia administration within the period of this estimate remains highly uncertain, depending almost entirely on their own estimate of the developing situation in Argentina. (Paras. 33, 38–40)
If the military should conclude that the Peronists under extremist leadership were likely to prevail in the 1967 elections, they would first urge upon the government the necessity of restricting Peronist participation in the elections. If not satisfied in that respect, they would almost certainly intervene to impose their will, or to prevent or annul the elections. (Para. 41)
Most Peronist leaders recognize that the movement is on probation in its resurgence into the national political arena. If, during the next year or so, the Peronist leadership, or some elements of it, should establish a reputation for reasonableness and moderation, some of the military might come to discriminate between “good” Peronists and “bad” Peronists and to tolerate the former. Thus a Peronist electoral victory under moderate leadership might precipitate a division among the military, with some calling for immediate counteraction and others seeking to preserve the constitutional regime at least until the presidential election in 1969. In such a case, a period of recurrent military crises, like that which occurred in 1962–1963, might ensue. (Paras. 32, 42)
The Argentine Communist Party is the largest in the Western Hemisphere (60,000–65,000 members), but is not an influential political [Page 295]force. The Communists and Castroists have no significant subversive potential in Argentina except insofar as they may be able to act in conjunction with a mass reaction of frustrated and embittered Peronists. (Paras. 18, 35)]

[Omitted here is the Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–R01012A, O/DDI Registry. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet this estimate was prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency with the participation of the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense and the National Security Agency. The United States Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on June 9.