136. Telegram From the Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State1
Buenos Aires, June 30, 1966, 2341Z.
2027. For Assistant Secretary Gordon. Subject: Private Conversation with General Alsogaray.
- Conversation took place in office of Alvaro Alsogaray under conditions outlined in Embtel 2019.2 No one else present. Statement in three parts: 1. Why the golpe took place, 2. What the new government proposes to do, 3. The structure of the new government.
- Stated that he and others had been working on the matter for some months. Illia government had been great hope that problems of the country would be solved. However it began to make mistakes. The first was the cancellation of the oil contracts which not only hurt investors but the country; communism, the lack of order, the severe [Page 313] worsening of the economy, political maneuverings, corruption, all caused great concern. Every attempt was made to get the government to meet these problems, however, nothing was done, suggestions were made. All that happened was a calling of cabinet meetings out of which issued nothing of constructive nature. The opening of dialogue with all sectors, calling on the cardinal, these are things that should have been done as a matter of course. No date had been fixed for the golpe. It had been generally agreed that action would have to be taken in October or December because of oncoming March elections unless of course the government took affirmative and satisfactory action to solve the problems of the country. It was obvious that the military had to work clandestinely; the press picked this up; the government reacted; the vicious circle was started. The military was forced to act because its integrity was being challenged—(the activities of General Caro and Secretary of War Castro Sanchez).
- What the new government proposes to do. The eventual goal to create a democratic system of three or four parties. This could be accomplished only sometime in the future after the basic problems of the country are solved. (He did not say how long this would take or use the term “years”, but clearly indicated that such a development was well in the future.) In the past, under the political system in effect there were but two choices, the bad and the worse, the Radicales or the Peronistas. The experience of the country proved that democratic political system could not successfully solve the problems of the country. It is not going to be easy to solve the economic problems of the country. He expected that the economy would continue to go down in the near future then hopefully, once the new government was able to restore confidence, Argentine investors would withdraw their funds from the Swiss and American banks and investments and foreign interests would begin to invest. The new government will strive to establish a modern economy of free enterprise taking full account of social obligations. It would not be a 19th century free enterprise type, but akin to that which exists as example, in Western Germany. The constitution still reigns; liberties will be guaranteed; free press will be allowed to continue. However if, for example, former government officials attempt to attack present government, measures will have to be taken. A full social security system will be established assuring pension, unemployment benefits, benefits to mothers, the whole gamut. The labor unions will be regulated; employer-employee relations determined, but political activity by unions will be prohibited. Outrageous demands on the part of labor, such as in the case of the longshoremen, who get six times regular pay for working at night—Buenos Aires is the most expensive port in the world—will not be tolerated. State enterprises will be put on paying basis.
- Peronism. Peronism as a political movement will not be permitted. All political activity will be prohibited, Peronism included. The [Page 314] belief in Peronism is deep in the people but this will be taken into account through proper labor and social welfare provisions to satisfy legitimate needs.
- Foreign Relations. Argentina is a member of the Western world. It is so by nature not by convenience. The U.S. is a friend; this too is by nature and not by convenience. Great Britain is an old client and an important market. With Spain, Argentina has special ties of origin. (No mention was made of USSR, satellite countries or ChiCom.) As to the countries immediately bordering Argentina, the border matters with Chile will have to be settled. The establishment of a special relationship with Uruguay, Paraguay and Bolivia, because of Argentina’s size and potential, would be the “rector” of these three countries. (Alsogaray repeated the word “rector” searching for something better to express his meaning. It was clear that he considered these three countries would be within the sphere of influence of Argentina.)
- I asked Alsogaray to repeat what he said about Chile. It was clear that he was not comfortable in doing so. Obvious that there is a question in his mind propriety of the present solution. I persisted and asked whether the settlement of this problem would be along present lines. He ducked the question again. In this exchange he mentioned England and the Islands (Malvinas).
- He returned to the question of the economy again describing it as a modern economy of free enterprise with full regard to social obligations. He mentioned no specific measures that the new government would undertake, however he said it was clear that it would need assistance from outside sources. No mention was made of military assistance.
- Structure of Government. There will be five ministries: Interior, Economy and Labor, Defense, Justice, and Foreign Relations. Fifteen secretariats will operate under the five ministries. Most of these will be under Economy and Labor with Interior having charge of Education as well as its usual functions. The three services will be under defense. The five ministries with the president will constitute the executive cabinet, the national cabinet will include the ministries and the secretariats.
- Except for the exchange on Chile, Alsogaray’s statement was frank and open. Because of the nature of the meeting I did not ask many questions except to bring him out on the subject of the guaranty of liberties, the program in the field of labor and of course, Chile.
- Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 15 ARG. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Received in the Department on June 30 at 9:17 p.m.↩
- Telegram 2019 from Buenos Aires, June 30 (1507Z), reported that the head of the military household, General Julio Alsogaray, had indirectly requested a private meeting with the Chargé d’Affaires. Saccio proposed to accept the invitation on the condition that he “need only listen and make no comment.” (Ibid., DEF 9 ARG) The Department cabled its concurrence. (Telegram 1465 to Buenos Aires, June 30, 12:27 p.m.; ibid.)↩