130. Editorial Note

On June 14, 1966, Félix Elizalde, head of the Argentine National Bank, called on Special Assistant to the President Rostow to discuss the recent Argentine proposal for a summit meeting of Latin American Presidents. Elizalde delivered an oral message from President Illia in [Page 306]which he maintained that “Latin America appeared to be coming into a rare moment of political stability.” He “wryly noted,” however, “that Argentina appeared to have somewhat changed its status” since late-March, when Illia first issued his invitation for the summit. Rostow asked Elizalde “how seriously he took the military coup rumors coming from Argentina.” Elizalde explained that “the problem came to rest on the elections of 1967. He thought Illia could hold the line until then but some of the military were looking for excuses to move earlier. The key task was to have non-Peronists win the elections of 1967.” Rostow asked what the United States could do to help. Elizalde replied that two projects needed immediate attention, the Somisa steel mill and the El Chocón hydroelectric plant. The former—“a symbol of independence in Argentina and an important installation for the military”—required AID cooperation with the Export-Import Bank; the latter was under consideration at the World Bank. (Memorandum of conversation, June 17; National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 7 IA) According to a note for Rusk, June 20, President Johnson instructed the State Department to “follow through” on Elizalde’s request “to assist President Illia to keep the Argentine military in line.” (Ibid.)