76. Telegram 8185 from the Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State, December 26, 1972, 2135Z.1 2

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TELEGRAM
Department of State
BUENOS AIRES 8185

PR 262135Z DEC 72

FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 396

INFO USCINCSO DIA DOD
AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO
AMEMBASSY ASUNCION
AMEMBASSY BRASILIA
AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO

SECTION 1 OF 2 BUENOS AIRES 8185

USCINCSO FOR POLAD

SUBJECT: PERON’S RETURN IN RETROSPECT: A COUNTRY TEAM ASSESSMENT

1. SUMMARY: PERON MAY HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED BY THE FACT THAT THE COUNTRY DID NOT TURN UPSIDE DOWN UPON HIS RETURN. REPORTEDLY, FELT HE HAD BEEN MISLED BY THOSE OF HIS ADVISERS WHO HAD URGED HIM TO COME--THOUGH HE LATER DESIGNATED ONE OF THOSE ADVISERS AS PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. LOOKED AT OBJECTIVELY, HOWEVER, THE HOMECOMING WOULD SEEM TO HAVE PRODUCED GAINS AS WELL AS LOSSES FOR PERON. HIS PERSONAL IMAGE CERTAINLY SUFFERED. HE HAD NO SOLUTIONS AND WAS UNABLE TO HEAL OR PREVENT DIVISIONS IN HIS OWN CAMP. BUT IF PERON THE MYTH IS NO LONGER WITH US, PERON THE POLITICIAN IS. HE CONTINUED TO DEMONSTRATE THAT, WHETHER FROM MADRID OR WITHIN THE CITY OF BUENOS AIRES, HE RETAINS THE CAPABILITY TO INFLUENCE, THOUGH NOT TO CONTROL, THE ARGENTINE POLITICAL SCENE. THE WAY IN WHICH HIS OWN FOLLOWERS REACTED TO HIS RETURN SUGGESTED THAT THE PERONIST PARTY ALSO HAS CHANGED. THEY DID NOT POUR INTO THE STREETS BY THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS. GALIMBERTI’S GROUP TALKED OF WAR, BUT MOST PERONISTS WERE CONTENT TO SIT HOME AND WATCH THE LEADER ON TELEVISION. THIS MORE [Page 2] PASSIVE ATTITUDE, HOWEVER, IN NO WAY INDICATES THAT PERONIST VOTING STRENGTH DOES NOT REMAIN FORMIDABLE. NO LONGER A FANATICAL MASS, THE PERONISTS WITH ALL THEIR INTERNAL BICKERING AND FIGHTING, ARE STILL THE LARGEST SINGLE POLITICAL PARTY IN THE COUNTRY. AT THE MOMENT, SCHISMS AND DISSENSION HAVE RESULTED FROM PERON’S DESIGNATION OF HECTOR CAMPORA AS THEIR PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS, HOWEVER, THE PARTY, WITH SOME LOSSES, WILL PROBABLY HOLD TOGETHER AS A UNIT AND VOTE FOR CAMPORA (IF HE IS STILL THE CANDIDATE), THUS TESTIFYING TO PERON’S CONTINUED ABILITY TO IMPOSE HIS WILL UPON THE MAJORITY OF HIS FOLLOWERS. HOWEVER ONE JUDGES THE OUTCOME OF THE RETURN FROM THE STANDPOINT OF PERON AND THE PERONISTAS, THE RESULTS FOR ARGENTINA WERE CLEARLY POSITIVE AND ENCOURAGED THE HOPE THAT A CORNER HAS BEEN TURNED. THE PASSIONS WHICH ONCE DEMANDED POLARIZATION ARE SEEN TO HAVE COOLED. PERONISMO AND ANTI-PERONISMO STILL EXIST AS ADVERSARIES, BUT NOW THAT THE MYTH HAS BEEN DISPELLED AND THE WORST (PERON’S RETURN) SEEN TO BE NOT SO AWFUL AFTER ALL, PERHAPS THEY CAN COEXIST - AND IN THE SAME COUNTRY. NO ACTION REQUIRED. END SUMMARY.

2. WHILE THERE IS A TENDENCY IN SOME ARGENTINE CIRCLES TO WRITE OFF PERON’S RETURN AS A COMPLETE FAILURE, THE MISSION BELIEVES THIS IS A RATHER UNBALANCED VIEW. A MORE ACCURATE ANALYSIS, IN ITS OPINION, WOULD SHOW THAT THE RESULTS OF THE RETURN WERE A MIXED BAG OF GAINS AND LOSSES. PERON TOOK HIMSELF OUT OF THE RACE AS A CANDIDATE. HIS PERSONAL IMAGE WAS TARNISHED. THE MYTH WAS DISPELLED AND HE WAS SEEN TO BE AN AGING MORTAL CAPABLE OF CHOOSING HIS WORDS POORLY AND WITH NO PANACEAS IN HIS SUITCASE. THIS WAS, BY AND LARGE, INEVITABLE. THOSE WHO HAD WAITED FOR THE BLACK PLANE TO BRING BACK A MYTHICAL HERO WHO WOULD RETURN THEM TO POWER, HEAL THE DIVISIONS IN THE MOVEMENT AND SOLVE THE ECONOMIC-SOCIAL PROBLEMS OF THE COUNTRY WITH A WAVE OF HIS HAND WERE DOOMED TO DISAPPOINTMENT. BUT EVEN PERONISTS WHOSE EXPECTATIONS HAD BEEN OF A MORE RATIONAL ORDER MAY HAVE BEEN DISAPPOINTED. PERON CONDUCTED HIMSELF WITH MARKED CIRCUMSPECTION WHILE HERE. HE MADE NO REAL EFFORT TO COMMUNICATE WITH HIS FOLLOWERS. IF THEY DID NOT TAKE TO THE STREETS, NEITHER DID HE ORDER THEM TO DO SO. HE DID NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT’S OFFER THAT HE ADDRESS THE NATION ON TELEVISION OR AT A PUBLIC MEETING. HE PURPOSELY DUCKED THE YOUTH RALLY WHICH WAS TO HAVE BEEN HELD [Page 3] ON DECEMBER 15 AND HE AVOIDED HOLDING A PRESS CONFERENCE WITH ARGENTINE NEWSMEN. THIS WAS NOT, IN OTHER WORDS, THE MASTER MANIPULATOR OF THE MASSES AND OF THE PUBLIC MEDIA MANY ARGENTINES REMEMBERED. AND ON THE ONE OCCASION WHEN HE DID MEET THE PRESS (ALBEIT THE FOREIGN PRESS CORPS), HE WAS GUILTY OF A SERIOUS GAFFE (I.E. HIS REFERENCE TO THE PARAGUAYAN ARMY AS THE MOST GLORIOUS IN THE AMERICAS) WHICH IRRITATED MANY ARGENTINE CIVILIANS AS WELL AS MILITARY, INCLUDING SOME OF HIS OWN FOLLOWERS.

3. MOREOVER, PERON WAS DRAWN INEXORABLY INTO THE INFIGHTING BETWEEN THE VARIOUS SECTORS AND LEADERS OF THE MOVEMENT WHOSE UNITY HE WAS EXPECTED TO BRING ABOUT. BOGELIO CORIA, ANTONIO CAFIERO, AND ALFREDO GOMEZ MORALES, FOR EXAMPLE. ALL OF WHOSE POSITIONS SUFFERED AS A RESULT, WILL PROBABLY BE A LITTLE LESS LOYAL, A LITTLE LESS ENTHUSIASTIC SUPPORTERS THAN THEY WERE BEFORE HIS ARRIVAL. FINALLY, THE CONTRADICTIONS BETWEEN HIS WORDS AND DEEDS WAS NOT LOST ON ALL ARGENTINES. FOR EXAMPLE, AFTER DENOUNCING THE ARGENTINE MILITARY DICTATORSHIP AND REFUSING TO MEET WITH ARGENTINE NEWSMEN BECAUSE, HE SAID, THE PRESS WAS CONTROLLED BY THE GOVERNMENT, HE FLEW OFF TO EMBRACE STROESSNER, THE MILITARY DICTATOR PAR EXCELLENCE WHO CONTROLS THE PRESS OF HIS COUNTRY WITH AN IRON HAND.

4. INDEED, IF ANYONE CAME AWAY FROM THE PERON VISIT LOOKING REALLY GOOD IT WAS PRESIDENT LANUSSE. THERE COULD BE NO DOUBT THAT IN THE PERSONAL DUEL BETWEEN THE TWO, LANUSSE HAD THE BETTER OF IT. IF DURING THE FIRST FEW DAYS AFTER NOV 17 LANUSSE HAD TO GUARD HIS FLANKS AGAINST A NERVOUS OFFICER CORPS UNHAPPY OVER PERON’S RETURN AND UNCERTAIN LANUSSE KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING, BY THE TIME PERON DEPARTED LANUSE’S STOCK WITH HIS BROTHER OFFICERS--AND WITH MUCH OF THE ARGENTINE POPULATION--HAD SOARED. HIS PRESS CONFERENCE WAS A NOTABLE SUCCESS. THE MILITARY WERE CONGRATULATING THEMSELVES OVER “THEIR” SUCCESSFUL GAMBLE THAT PERON’S RETURN WOULD LEAD NOT TO CHAOS, AS HAD BEEN PREDICTED FOR YEARS, BUT TO A DIMINUTION OF HIS IMAGE. IF LANUSSE CAN NOW GET THE COUNTRY TO HONEST ELECTIONS AND BRING ABOUT SOMETHING RESEMBLING A NATIONAL SOLUTION, HIS PLACE IN ARGENTINE HISTORY IS ASSURED. MORE THAN THAT, HIS ENHANCED STATURE MAKES HIM A POTENTIAL FIGURE FOR THE FUTURE--THOUGH NOT AS A CANDIDATE FOR THE MARCH 1973 ELECTIONS. INDEED, WITH REFERENCE TO THE LATTER [Page 4] POINT, HIS IMPROVED IMAGE IS BASED AT LEAST IN PART ON A GROWING CONVICTION AMONG THE PEOPLE THAT HE MEANS WHAT HE SAYS AND WILL NOT BE A CANDIDATE. LANUSSE HAS EMERGED AS ARGENTINA’S MAN OF THE YEAR.

4. THE RETURN WAS NOT HOWEVER, A MATTER OF ALL PLUSES FOR ONE AND ALL MINUSES FOR THE OTHER. PERON HAD HIS GAINS TOO. FIRST OF ALL, HE DID COME BACK--AFTER MOST PEOPLE HAD SAID HE WOULD NOT AND AFTER LANUSSE HAD SAID HE DIDN’T HAVE THE GUTS. HIS IMAGE MAY HAVE SUFFERED DURING HIS SOME 27 DAYS IN ARGENTINA, BUT IT MIGHT HAVE SUFFERED EVEN MORE HAD HE NOT COME. MANY WERE SAYING THAT HE HAD EITHER TO TAKE UP THE GOVERNMENT’S CHALLENGE AND COME BACK OR FACE A TOTAL ECLIPSE AS A POLITICAL FIGURE ON THE ARGENTINE STAGE. EVEN IN SOPHISTICATED ARGENTINA, NOTHING CAN BE MORE POLITICALLY DAMAGING THAN HAVING ONE’S MANLINESS CALLED INTO QUESTION. FURTHER, WHILE HIS HOLD ON THE POLITICAL LEVERS WAS SEEN TO BE NO LONGER ALTOGETHER CONFIDENT OR COMPELLING, HE NONETHELESS DEMONSTRATED THAT HE STILL HAS A TALENT FOR POLITICAL MANEUVERING AND ENOUGH CLOUT AND PRESENCE TO IMPOSE HIS WISHES NOT ONLY UPON HIS OWN MOVEMENT BUT ON OTHER POLITICAL LEADERS AS WELL. LEADING POLITICIANS FLOCKED TO SEE HIM UPON HIS RETURN AND AFTER ONLY THREE DAYS IN THE COUNTRY HE HAD MANAGED TO CONVINCE ALL THE SIGNIFICANT POLITICAL PARTIES TO JOIN HIS JUSTICIALISTAS IN A FRONT WHICH WAS TO WORK OUT A COINCIDENCE OF VIEWS AND WHICH INCIDENTALLY BACKED SOME OF HIS DEMANDS TO THE GOVERNMENT. THIS FRONT EVENTUALLY COLLAPSED WHEN THE UCR LEFT ITS RANKS, BUT IT WAS REPLACED BY THE FORMATION OF AN ELECTORAL ALLIANCE, THE FRENTE JUSTICIALISTA DE LIBERACION. GRANTED THAT IT IS NOT THE BROAD ALLIANCE HE HAD HOPED FOR; WITH THE EXCEPTION OF MID, THE PARTIES IT COMPRISES ARE MINOR ONES. MOREOVER, ITS COHESIVENESS IS HIGHLY QUESTIONABLE. SOME OF ITS COMPONENTS APPEAR ALREADY TO BE LEAVING ITS RANKS BECAUSE OF QUARRELS OVER CANDIDATES. BUT IF THE RACE IS A CLOSE ONE, THE VOTES OF THOSE WHO STAY WILL NOT BE WITHOUT SIGNIFICANCE. THEIR SUPPORT, MOREOVER, IS PROBABLY MORE VALUED IN THE PSYCHOLOGICAL SENSE AS AN INDICATION THAT THE PERONISTS DO NOT STAND ALONE.

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5. FINALLY, PERON WILL PROBABLY SUCCEED IN IMPOSING THE CANDIDATE OF HIS CHOICE UPON HIS MOVEMENT -- IF NOT, INDEED, UPON ARGENTINA. MANY -- THE MISSION INCLUDED -- HAD BELIEVED CAMPORA’S UNPOPULARITY WITHIN THE MOVEMENT, WITH ITS IMPLICATIONS FOR FRAGMENTATION AND LOSS OF VOTES, WOULD DISSUADE PERON PROM GIVING HIM THE NOD. IN THE END, PERON RESPONDED NOT TO EXTERNAL PRESSURES OR TO THE LOGIC OF THE SITUATION BUT TO HIS OWN PERSONAL INTERESTS AND WISHES. CAMPORA’S CANDIDACY HAS ALREADY CAUSED DISCONTENT AND FRACTURING WITHIN THE MOVEMENT AND MAY CAUSE MORE. SO FAR, HOWEVER, THE EVIDENCE DOES NOT SUGGEST THAT PERONISMO IS DISINTEGRATING. SOME FOLLOWERS WILL DROP AWAY (PERHAPS EVEN ENOUGH OF THEM SO THAT PERONIST CHANCES AT THE POLLS WILL RE SERIOUSLY JEOPARDIZED), AND THERE WILL BE A PERIOD OF QUARRELING AND ILL WILL BETWEEN THOSE WHO REMAIN. THE LABOR SECTOR, HOWEVER, ALREADY GIVES EVIDENCE OF FALLING IN LINE AND SOME OF THE EMBASSY’S PERONIST CONTACTS WHO A MONTH AGO SWORE THEY WOULD NEVER VOTE FOR CAMPORA, ARE NOW SAYING THEY WILL, ALBEIT SADLY. WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE, THE MAJORITY OF PERONISTS ARE LIKELY TO REMAIN WITHIN THE MOVEMENT AND ON MARCH 11 WILL VOTE FOR CAMPORA, IF ONLY BECAUSE PERON TELLS THEM TO (ASSUMING CAMPORA IS STILL THE CANDIDATE: THE COURTS HAVE NOT YET RULED ON WHETHER OR NOT THE AUG 25 CLAUSE APPLIES TO HIM, AND IT IS STILL POSSIBLE PERON IS [Page 6] USING HIM AS A STALKING HORSE). THIS IS COMPELLING EVIDENCE OF THE HOLD THE MAN STILL HAS OVER “HIS PEOPLE” - BE IT FOR GOOD OR BAD. AT THE SAME TIME, HOWEVER, IT IS EQUALLY CLEAR THAT HIS WORD IS NO LONGER ENOUGH TO GUARANTEE VICTORY. CAMPORA MAY BE THE CANDIDATE, BUT HE MAY NOT WIN. HE HAS THE REPUTATION OF BEING A LIGHTWEIGHT. INDEED, THIS IS SAID TO BE ONE REASON PERON DUMPED THE PERSONABLE PALADINO AS HIS PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE IN FAVOR OF CAMPORA.

6. WE BELIEVE PERON’S DECISION TO DESIGNATE CAMPORA REPRESENTED AN EFFORT TO SOLVE AS BEST HE COULD THE DILEMMA OF HOW TO GIVE THE NOD TO SOMEONE ELSE (GIVEN THAT HE HIMSELF DID NOT WANT, OR CANNOT HAVE, THE CARES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE PRESIDENCY) WITHOUT IN SO DOING CREATING A CHALLENGER TO HIS POSITION As HEAD OF THE MOVEMENT. WITH CAMPORA, WHO IS WIDELY REGARDED AS LITTLE MORE THAN A CREATURE OF PERON WITH NO MIND OF HIS OWNS HE HOPES TO HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. CAMPORA MAY BECOME PRESIDENT, BUT HE WILL DO AS PERON SAYS AND WILL NOT CHALLENGE HIM FOR LEADERSHIP OF THE MOVEMENT.

7. ESSENTIALLY, THEN, CAMPORA’S APPOINTMENT ITSELF HAD LITTLE TO DO WITH THE RETURN. PERON COULD HAVE AS EASILY APPOINTED HIM FROM MADRID. MANY PERONISTS HAD FELT THE LEADER WOULD RETURN, IF FOR NO OTHER REASON, IN ORDER TO STAND BEFORE HIS FOLLOWERS AND PUT HIS ARM AROUND THE SHOULDERS OF A SUCCESSOR. WITHOUT THIS PUBLIC EMBRACE, THEY REASONED, MANY OF THE MOVEMENTS DISPARATE SECTORS WOULD NOT ACCEPT A NEW CANDIDATE. IN THE EVENT, HOWEVER, PERON LEFT ARGENTINA WITHOUT HAVING GIVEN THAT EMBRACE-THOUGH HAD HE DONE SO SOME OF THE FRAGMENTATION MIGHT HAVE BEEN AVOIDED. PRESUMABLY HE WILL GIVE CAMPORA A BELATED PUBLIC ABRAZO WHEN HE RETURNS IN JANUARY (ASSUMING THAT HE DOES RETURN), BUT BY THEN MOST OF THE DAMAGE WILL HAVE BEEN DONE. ONE CAN ONLY SURMISE THAT IN THIS, AS IN THE DECISION TO GO WITH CAMPORA, PERON PUT HIS OWN INTERESTS ABOVE THOSE OF THE MOVEMENT. KNOWING THE APPOINTMENT WOULD BE UNPOPULAR AND POSSIBLY UNACCEPTABLE TO THE MILITARY, HE CHOSE NOT TO ASSOCIATE HIMSELF WITH IT PUBLICLY. OSTENSIBLY, IT WAS THE JUSTICIALISTA CONGRESS WHICH DESIGNATED CAMPORA: PERON SIMPLY ACCEPTED THEIR CHOICE. IF SOMETHING GOES WRONG, IT WILL BE THE MUCHACHOS, NOT PERON, WHO WILL TAKE THE BLAME.

8. THE CHOICE OF CAMPORA LEADS TO ANOTHER CONCLUSION: THAT PERON’S RETURN PRODUCED NO AGREEMENT WITH THE MILITARY [Page 7] CANDIDATES. BEFORE HIS ARRIVAL, THE MISSION, ALONG WITH MANY OTHER OBSERVERS, HAD BELIEVED HE WOULD NOT COME BACK UNLESS SOME AGREEMENT HAD BEEN REACHED OR WAS NEAR. IT WAS EVEN EXPECTED THAT DURING HIS STAY HE WOULD FORMALIZE SUCH AN ACCORD AND ANNOUNCE HIS SUPPORT FOR A CANDIDATE MUTUALLY ACCEPTABLE TO THE MILITARY AND THE PERONISTS. WHILE THE LOGIC OF THE SITUATION SEEMED TO DICTATE THIS KIND OF AGREEMENT, THE EVIDENCE NOW INDICATES THERE WAS NONE.

9. THE MILITARY WANTED AN ACCORD, FOR IF THEY ARE TO BRING ABOUT THE KIND OF STABLE, MAJORITY GOVERNMENT THEY HAVE PROMISED, THEY NEED PERONIST PARTICIPATION IN THE ELECTIONS; YET, TO REDUCE THE POSSIBILITIES OF A “LEAP INTO THE VOID”, THEY WISHED TO HAVE PRIOR UNDERSTANDINGS REGARDING PROGRAMS AND CANDIDATES, THE LINE OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN PERON AND THE MILITARY WERE OPEN AFTER RETURN AND THERE WERE EXCHANGES. IT WAS EVEN EXPECTED THAT PERON WOULD MEET DIRECTLY WITH LANUSSE TO NEGOTIATE A MUTUALLY ACCEPTABLE CANDIDATE. IN THE END, HOWEVER, NOTHING CAME OF ALL THIS. PERONISTS SAY IT WAS BECAUSE OF MILITARY INFLEXIBILITY: THE MILITARY WOULD DOUBTLESS SAY THE SAME OF PERON. MUTUAL RECRIMINATIONS ASIDE, THE HEART OF THE MATTER MAY BF THAT PERON CONCLUDED HE DID NOT NEED TO REACH AGREEMENT IN ORDER TO GET HIS JUSTICIALISTAS INTO THE ELECTIONS (AND HE DEFINITELY SEEMS TO WANT THEM TO PARTICIPATE). INTELLIGENCE SOURCES INDICATED THAT ON OR ABOUT 5 DECEMBER, EXCHANGES WERE BROKEN BY THE PERONISTS. THE MILITARY MIGHT DROP DIRE HINTS ABOUT CANCELLING ELECTIONS UNLESS THERE IS A COINCIDENCE oF VIEWS AND AN “ACCEPTABLE” CANDIDATE. IN FACT, HOWEVER, AS PERON MAY WELL HAVE SURMISED, THEY WOULD BE EXTREMELY RELUCTANT TO CALL OFF THE ELECTIONS AT THIS LATE DATE EVEN IF THE JUSTICIALISTA CANDIDATE DID NOT ENJOY THEIR PRIOR APPROVAL. IN OTHER WORDS, AS PERON PROBABLY SAW IT, THE MILITARY NEEDED PERONIST PARTICIPATION IN THE ELECTIONS MORE THAN THE PERONISTS NEEDED AN ACCORD WITH THE MILITARY. SENSING THAT HE COULD HAVE THE ONE WITHOUT THE OTHER, PERON AVOIDED AN AGREEMENT AND UNILATERALLY DESIGNATED. CAMPORA, A FIGURE FOR WHOM THE MILITARY WOULD NEVER WILLINGLY HAVE GIVEN THEIR PRIOR APPROVAL.

10. EVEN IN FLYING OFF TO PARAGUAY AND LEAVING THE POLITICAL SCENE IN A TURMOIL, THEN, PERON DEMONSTRATED THAT HE STILL HAS [Page 8] A DEFT TOUCH FOR KEEPING HIS ADVERSARIES GUESSING AND ON THE DEFENSIVE - AND THAT, WHILE HE NO LONGER CONTROLS ARGENTINA’S POLITICAL DESTINIES, HE HAS THE POWER TO INFLUENCE THEIR FORM AND SUBSTANCE.

11. WHATEVER THE RESULTS FOR PERON HIMSELF, OR FOR HIS MOVEMENT, HIS RETURN WAS WITHOUT QUESTION A POSITIVE DEVELOPMENT FOR ARGENTINA. WHEN IT CAME, THE COUNTRY TOOK IT VERY MUCH IN STRIDES SUGGESTING THAT WHILE THE DIVISIONS AND BITTERNESS ARE STILL THERE, THEY EXIST IN AN ATTENUATED FORM, ARGENTINA APPEARS TO BE NO LONGER AN INTENSELY POLARIZED COUNTRY. GALIMBERTI AND HIS ILK CAUSED SOME PROBLEMS BUT DID NOT RECEIVE THE SUPPORT OF THE PERONIST MAJORITY. AND IF THE PERONISTS TURNED OUT TO BE NO LONGER THE FANATICAL MASS THEY ONCE WERE, ANTI-PERONIST SENTIMENT WAS ALSO SEEN TO REPRESENT A PALE REFLECTION OF WHAT IT ONCE WAS. ADMIRAL ROJAS AND OTHER HARD-LINE ANTI-PERONISTS DID, TO BE SURE HOLD A NUMBER OF RALLIES AND ISSUE STATEMENTS DENOUNCING THE EX-DICTATOR’S RETURN. FEW ATTENDED THE RALLIES OR HEEDED THE STATEMENTS, HOWEVER. THERE ARE, IN OTHER WORDS, STILL THOSE ON BOTH SIDES WHO WOULD GO TO EXTREMES, BUT THEY NO LONGER CONTROL, OR EVEN INFLUENCE TO ANY SIGNIFICANT DEGREE, THE MAJORITY.

12. ARGENTINA’S FUTURE IS AS YET BY NO MEANS CLEAR OR ASSURED. MUCH CAN HAPPEN BETWEEN NOW AND THE MARCH 11 ELECTIONS-AND EVEN AFTER (AND IF) A NEW GOVERNMENT TAKES POWER, ITS TENURE MAY WELL BE PRECARIOUS FOR SOME TIME TO COME. NOR, NEEDLESS TO SAY, IS CAMPORA A CANDIDATE WHO INSPIRES MUCH CONFIDENCE. NONETHELESS, THE SHADOW WHICH HAS HUNG OVER THIS COUNTRY FOR SEVENTEEN YEARS IS DISSOLVING. HOPEFULLY, ARGENTINA IS ENTERING A NEW ERA. XGDS

LODGE

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL 30–2 ARG. Confidential.
  2. The Embassy’s country team predicted that former President Peron’s return to Argentina was a positive development for the nation.