63. Memorandum From Secretary of State Rogers to President Nixon, Washington, June 10, 1970.1 2

[Page 1]

June 10, 1970


Subject: Argentine President Deposed by Military Leaders

On June 9 Argentine President Lieutenant General Juan Carlos Ongania was deposed after a half-day confrontation with the Commanders-in-Chief of the armed forces which stemmed from Ongania’s refusal to accept a military plan for a phased return to representative democracy starting in 1971. The military, headed by Army Commander-in-Chief Lieutenant General Alejandro Lanusse, also had been concerned by Ongania’s vague plans for a “corporatist” state and the deterioration of public security arising from labor unrest and terrorist acts such as the unsolved kidnapping/probable murder of former President (1955–58) Pedro Aramburu.

A new President is to be selected by the service commanders during the next few days, with Lanusse expected to play an increasingly important role. The Department is actively studying whether a question of recognition is involved as a result of Ongania’s forced resignation and the prospective designation of a successor.

Ambassador John Davis Lodge reports that Buenos Aires is calm and that the various army commands are giving full support to Lanusse. There are no reports of incidents involving the 5,000 American citizens in Argentina or the $1.2 billion in U.S. investment.

[signed] William P. Rogers

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 768, Country Files, Latin America, Argentina 1969–31 August 1971. Secret. The commanders in chief of the Argentina military argued that their resumption of power was legally consistent with the revolution of 1966 and required no recognition. (Telegram 2115 from Buenos Aires, June 10, ibid., RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL ARG–US.) The Assistant Legal Advisor for ARA also took this position in a June 10 memorandum to Tragen. (Ibid.) On June 12 Meyer informed Lodge that the Department had decided that a question of recognition did not exist. (Telegram 091622 to Buenos Aires, June 12, ibid.)
  2. Secretary Rogers stated that President Onganía had been ousted by General Alejandro Lanusse because Onganía refused to accept a military plan for gradual return to democracy and had vague plans for a “corporatist state.” U.S. citizens and investment were unharmed by the coup.