146. National Intelligence Estimate1

NIE 91–67


The Problem

To consider the nature of Argentina’s basic problems, the character and actions of the Onganía administration, and the prospects for significant economic and political progress over the next four or five years.


President Onganía is bent on retaining power as long as necessary to revive the country’s economy and, when that is accomplished, [Page 333] to tackle its political maladies. The government has given priority to a sustained attack on the most serious economic aberrations; it has meanwhile suspended politics as usual, ordered all the political parties dissolved, and put off indefinitely any attempt to come to grips with the country’s most divisive political problem—Peronism.
Onganía’s administration has, for the most part, avoided repressive actions, and, in the conduct of its business, it appears more civilian than military. Most Argentines, though not enthusiastic about him, seem quite willing to wait and see how his government performs. We believe that Onganía will continue to hold power over the next year or so.
The administration has initiated a complex economic program designed to achieve both financial stabilization and economic development. It has sharply reduced the power of organized labor and has taken positive action to reduce budget deficits, increase production, and control inflation. These measures have attracted considerable official and private financial and technical support from abroad. Over the next year or two we look for additional progress in budgetary reforms, in stabilization measures, and in some aspects of development.
Over the longer run—the next four or five years—we doubt that the regime can continue to keep Argentine political problems on the shelf. We think Onganía will have great difficulty in holding cohesive civilian support behind his program, and as time passes his military backing is likely to become less solid. These factors will complicate any attempts by Onganía to come to grips with the Peronist problem. Further, we do not believe that even over this longer period of time Argentina will establish a representative system of government capable of reaching a consensus on policies and tactics for dealing with its social and economic problems.
We believe, nonetheless, that the government will make considerable progress in reducing the impact of fluctuating harvests and commodity prices on annual growth rates. Broader economic success, however, will depend on the government’s ability to maintain continuity in its policies and to retain public confidence in their durability over a number of years. We believe that the government’s chances of remaining in power over this longer run are considerably better than even, but we are less confident that it will be able to adhere firmly to a successful economic policy.
Onganía’s anti-Communist leanings will continue to be a force for close cooperation with the US. Among the issues which could adversely affect US-Argentine relations would be a refusal by the US to carry out what the Argentine military establishment regards as a commitment to assist in the modernization of its armed forces.

[Omitted here is the Discussion section of the estimate.]

  1. Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Job 79–R01012A, O/DDI Registry. Secret; Controlled Dissem. According to a note on the cover sheet this estimate was prepared in the Central Intelligence Agency with the participation of the intelligence organizations of the Departments of State and Defense and the National Security Agency. The United States Intelligence Board concurred in this estimate on December 7.