128. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Argentina1

1363. For Ambassador from Gordon.

I am of course aware your strenuous efforts to make known both generally and to key Argentine figures our position of strong opposition to coup against Illia Government and our support for continuous Constitutional Government in Argentina. However, I raise question whether most if not all of those actively pushing for golpe—and perhaps key figures such as Ongania and Pistarini—may believe we are making “the expected noises” and that, after a brief hiatus, we would continue business as usual with an Argentine de facto government should the coup against Illia actually materialize.
Your contingency paper has not yet arrived. Meanwhile, in view of fact that as stated in your telegram 18362 “the situation is sufficiently fragile that it is at the mercy of accidents,” I would like to have your views on the desirability and feasibility of making absolutely clear to [Page 301] those likely to be key figures in future developments that we would not be able easily to cooperate with a de facto government that had ousted constitutional Illia administration. If you agree, an approach might be made to Ongania, Pistarini, Julio Alsogaray and/or such others as you may suggest along following lines:
Express concern over most recent spate coup rumors and approaches by golpistas who purport express attitude Military High Command and Ongania that coup inevitable and will be carried out.

Point out that we are currently engaged in planning cooperative programs with GOA—both in military and economic fields—and that we feel continuance constitutional government and political stability necessary for us move ahead with these plans. Our opposition to coup is not merely philosophical opposition to rupture constitutionality and democratic process, but also strongly based on belief that military coup would be serious setback to Argentina’s economic and political development. Moreover, congressional and public reaction in U.S. would be such as to limit severely if not make impossible U.S. cooperation.

FYI. As you know MAP is subject strong criticism encourages coups. Thus Argentine coup could lead to amendment to pending legislation forbidding military assistance to de facto governments or at most elimination MAP entirely. End FYI.

If it seems desirable to be more explicit, you could mention that among the significant joint projects currently under consideration are the five-year MAP/MAS Program (approx. $42 million grant and $67 million credit) and a loan for expansion Somisa facilities ($100 million approximately). Our ultimate decisions on these projects would have to be taken in light of circumstances then prevailing, including climate of congressional and public opinion in U.S. A breach of constitutionality would clearly create extremely unfavorable atmosphere. Debt rescheduling would also be prejudiced.
A golpe would clearly rule out B.A. as site for OAS Conference.
A military government offers certain superficial advantages in terms of action over present civilian administration, whose errors of omission and commission, chiefly the former, are easy to point out. However, it is our view that institutional instability constitutes a serious obstacle to foreign investment, which is in turn essential to economic development. Stability is perhaps more important in this regard than efficiency. There is considerable doubt in our minds that a military government, which would not have organized public support, would in fact be able to carry out the economic program needed to put country on its feet or that such gains as were made would not be swept away as soon as civilian government was restored. This is reenforced [Page 302] by possible instability flowing from fallings-out among coup leaders once constitutional structure swept away.
We continue to hope that coup can be avoided and that Argentina will show that degree of maturity which is expected of such a highly cultured, sophisticated country.
Please classify reply Nodis.
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15 ARG. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. Drafted by Dreyfuss and Krieg on June 6 and approved by Gordon and Ball.
  2. Document 127.