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

64. Subj: Private Conversation With Alvaro Alsogaray. Ref: Buenos Aires 44.2

Civil and Human Rights. Alsogaray stated that it had been the intention from the very beginning (in the planning stage) that none of the civil rights be infringed except as absolutely necessary in the political field. The constitution is still in effect and will continue in effect. The top level of the court system had to be changed for political reasons as well as for corruption but the courts remain intact and will continue as before. Though the provincial intervenors have the power to remove individual members of the highest court in the provinces, very few have been removed. No ad hoc committees of investigation have been established. There have been no political arrests. The unions stand [Page 317] as they were before. Where there had been arrests as in the case of Ricardo Illia and Mayor Rabanal, the others have been immediately turned over to the courts for adjudication. Unless there is an attack against the revolution, there will be no change in the rights of the people. The press will continue to be free. All that the revolution planned to do is to make minimum changes necessary to resolve the political situation. In a democracy people have the right to change by voting against the administration in power. In Argentina this meant Peronists as the only [garble—alternative?]. This could not be permitted. Even the Peronistas knew this as proven by their acceptance of the revolution. Alsogaray referred to the Peronist labor leaders acceptance of invitation to Ongania’s swearing in.
Elections in the Future. The plan of revolution and the present intention is to solve the basic problems of the country so that it can operate eventually as a viable democracy. It is hoped that in time there will be created a democratic system of a limited number of parties instead of the hundreds that existed before. However, the government does not intend to fix a date or commit itself to a time as to when elections will be held. This was mistake that was made before since once a time is fixed the government cannot accomplish anything; everybody becomes a politician. Besides problems in the economic area are extremely difficult to resolve in a democracy. However, there is no question about the intent of this government to work for a democratic system. In fact, outside of the political, none of the basic institutions of the country will be modified.
International Economic Policy. It is the intention of the government to move toward a free enterprise system. (Instead of elaborating on this, Alsogaray referred to our conversation in March, stating that I was fully cognizant with his theories and that these would all obtain in the new government.) The oil contracts problem will be resolved; Argentina will sign investment guarantee agreement. The exchange rate will be freed but not immediately. Ongania determined to proceed carefully. This was not a problem that could be resolved today. Many factors had to be taken into consideration. He, Alsogaray, will be given the job of coordinating all international economic relations, working with the Minister of Economy and the Foreign Ministry. He has already had conferences with the new Minister of Economy and after similar conferences with the Foreign Minister and President, he will take off on a quick review of the situation in Western Europe and the U.S. Come September he will start the negotiations on behalf of his government.
International Relations. Argentina will be a close partner of the U.S. on all questions involving free world and hemisphere. There will be no hesitance on part of Argentina in joining the U.S. in the solution of hemispheric problems. There will be no holding back as in the case [Page 318] of the Dominican Republic. However, as to Vietnam, Argentina will not send troops to assist the South Vietnamese. If there is any action in this sphere by the UN or other international body, Argentina will support the U.S.
In outlining these policies Alsogaray made clear that though he was speaking with intimate knowledge of the previous plans of the revolution and the present thinking, he could not make any authoritative statements. He did say that the government would be issuing public statements on these matters and that they would be coming out probably next week or the week after. I asked him specifically about whether a statement would be made on the subject of future elections. He wasn’t sure of this but he assured me that he was reporting correctly the thinking of the new government. On foreign policy, para 4 above, he referred to his conversation with Ongania yesterday as authority for his statements. One reason he gives for the delay in making public statements on policy was that the revolution was planned for later in the year. With a smile he said that they had to respond to the counter golpe of the government.
I do not intend to pursue suggested talk with FonMin Costa Mendez unless he persists, knowing that I have already talked to the Alsogarays. Regardless of their views, I believe latter have been frank and sincere. Do not think it wise to appear to be checking their statements unless Department feels it would be valuable to get a more “official” statement on future elections. Not likely that I will be successful or that it will be useful in view of the nature of their justification.3
  1. Source: National Archives and Records Administration, RG 59, Central Files 1964–66, POL 23–9 ARG. Secret; Immediate; Limdis. Passed to the White House, DOD, CIA, USIA, NSA, and CINCLANT for POLAD.
  2. Telegram 44 from Buenos Aires, July 5, reported the upcoming “talk” with Alvaro, brother of General Julio Alsogaray. (Ibid.) The Department suggested that Saccio explain the U.S. position on recognition, particularly with regard to democracy and human rights. The Department provided the following guidance: “You should not imply that we will refuse recognition if these points not covered but stress that public commitments along these lines would be most helpful with respect public and congressional opinion in this country.” (Telegram 1713 to Buenos Aires, July 5; ibid., POL 16 ARG)
  3. After this meeting Saccio recommended recognition of the new government by July 9, the national holiday and sesquicentennial of Argentina’s independence. “Delay beyond July 9,” he explained, “runs risk of damaging long-term U.S. interests with respect to Argentina, since it starts to build up incomprehension and resentment.” (Telegram 62 from Buenos Aires, July 5, 2331Z; ibid.) The Department replied that recognition by July 9 would be impossible without a declaration of the regime’s democratic intentions. A public statement by an authorized spokesman that was similar to the private assurances of Alvaro Alsogaray could provide the basis for immediate consultation, possibly resulting in recognition by July 9. (Telegram 1872 to Buenos Aires, July 6; ibid.)