137. Telegram From the Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State1

2020. Subject: Recognition of Ongania Government.

Embassy realizes others have experienced, as Country Team has here, feelings of repugnance over military overthrow of constitutional government of Illia.
There was no real justification for move, and pretext was flimsy.
It was a long premediated power play which left in its wake no semblance of constitutionality.
Alliance for Progress received serious blow.
Effect on public opinion in US, Latin America and elsewhere is bound to blacken Argentina’s image abroad.
Cool analysis, however, results in recognition of following.
Illia government not only unpopular but object of attack by all sectors and even within own party.
There is no turning back.
Ongania, of all Argentine military, is most prestigious, respected, and capable.
If there were plebiscite Ongania would probably win, even over Peron.
There has been no counter-action to golpe. Public mood has been one of apathy toward events and expectancy and wishfulness toward future.
Ongania regime would probably not only meet all conditions for recognition (except assurance of early elections), but be firm anti-Communist partner of free world in OAS, UN, and other international bodies.
Argentina still plays important role in achievement US objectives such as projects Clear Sky and Skin Diver2 and in OAS and UN.
Other members of hemisphere will undoubtedly be recognizing Ongania government in short order.
Embassy’s recommendation is that, after decent interval during which US consults with fellow members of OAS, we recognize Ongania government. We should, however, be neither first nor last.3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 16 ARG. Secret; Priority; Limdis. Received in the Department on July 1 at 11:10 a.m. Passed to the White House, DOD, CIA, USIA, NSA, and CINCLANT for POLAD.
  2. In telegram 1472 to Buenos Aires, June 30, the Department instructed the Embassy to discontinue negotiations for Clear Sky, a project to monitor Soviet compliance with the Limited Test Ban Treaty of August 1963, until the restoration of diplomatic relations. (Ibid.) The Department determined, however, that Skin Diver, a “military scientific flight operation” could continue. (Telegram 1460 to Buenos Aires, June 29; ibid., POL 23–9 ARG)
  3. In telegram 1186 to Buenos Aires, July 2, the Department forwarded the text of the administration’s recognition policy as contained in the IRG paper (see Document 135). The Department also instructed the Embassy to convey the message that diplomatic relations would be restored if the Onganía administration issued a public statement testifying to its commitment to democracy and civil liberties. (National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL ARG–US)