64. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger) to President Nixon, Washington, October 16, 1970.1 2

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October 16, 1970

FROM: Henry A. Kissinger [HK initialed]
SUBJECT: Letter to Ambassador John Davis Lodge

John Davis Lodge, U.S. Ambassador to Argentina, has written two letters to you (Tab B). In the first he gives his impressions of the situation in Argentina and expresses his concern over the present situation in Chile. Ambassador Lodge notes that President Levingston came to power at least partly as a result of dissatisfaction with former President Ongania’s failure to present a timetable for the return to representative government. He believes that Levingston also will find it very difficult to produce a viable timetable (Levingston has since announced a vague plan for the return to representative government over the next five years).

Ambassador Lodge further believes that many Argentines’ desire for free elections is blunted by the likelihood that the Peronists (some of whom are partially aligned with Castroism) would win such a contest and by the recent examples of the Chilean and Uruguayan democracies. The Levingston government is confronted with difficult social and economic problems and will probably face increasing pressures. In view of this, Ambassador Lodge questions whether a return to representative democracy in Argentina is in the interest of the U.S.

In his second letter, Ambassador Lodge suggests that a visit by Bebe Rebozo to Argentina would be beneficial. In the suggested reply to the Ambassador’s letters, which is attached at Tab A for your signature, we have given a noncommittal answer to this suggestion. You may wish to modify it. I would point out, however, that if Bete were to go to Argentina, his visit would undoubtedly be viewed as a quasi-diplomatic mission and would probably expose him to considerable press speculation.

The proposed reply at Tab A has been cleared with Ray Price.

That you sign the letter to Ambassador Lodge at Tab A.

Tab A -- Reply to Ambassador John Davis Lodge
Tab B -- Letters from Ambassador Lodge

  1. Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 768, Country Files, Argentina 1969–31 August 71. Secret. Sent for action. Nixon approved the recommendation and wrote on the bottom of the memorandum, “Consider whether I should go there [Argentina] early in 1971.” Nixon never made the trip. Attached but not published at Tab A is Nixon’s October 22 reply to Lodge in which the President declared he was giving careful attention to Chile, and handwrote an additional note, “The campaign is heating up—we should gain some in the Senate and would win it—if it were not for the economic drag.” Also attached but not printed is Tab B, two September 10 letters from Lodge to Nixon.
  2. President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs Kissinger summarized two letters from Ambassador John Davis Lodge to President Nixon. Lodge questioned whether it would be in the U.S. interest for Argentina to return to representative democracy. In the second letter Lodge proposed Bebe Rebozo visit Argentina.