1. Memorandum From the Deputy Director for Plans of the Central Intelligence Agency (Karamessines) to the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Kissinger)1


  • The Argentine Elections

1. On 11 March 1973, elections will be held throughout Argentina for municipal, provincial, and federal offices, including the presidency and vice-presidency. The last such election in Argentina was held in 1963. Out of a total of nine presidential candidates there are three principal ones: Hector Campora, hand-picked by Juan Perón to carry the standard for the Justicialista Party, still the largest political movement in Argentina seventeen years after Perón’s fall and exile to Spain; Ricardo Balbin, the leader of the left-of-center Radical Civic Union, the best organized party in Argentina; and Francisco Manrique, former Minister of Social Welfare under President Alejandro Lanusse and the nominee of the Popular Federalist Alliance, a coalition of a number of small right wing political groups.

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2. If a single candidate does not capture a majority of the votes on the initial ballot, a run-off must be held within thirty days. If a run-off is necessary, it is already scheduled for 8 April 1973. If the two top candidates together obtain two-thirds of the votes cast, a run-off election between them will be held. There is also a provision permitting the Argentine Electoral Court to recognize, without recourse to a run-off, the merger of two candidates representing at least two-thirds of the votes cast on the initial ballot into a single presidential/vice-presidential ticket. If the top two candidates together do not receive two-thirds of the votes cast, they may form alliances for a run-off with any presidential or vice-presidential candidate who received at least fifteen percent of the total initial vote. In forming these alliances, however, the presidential candidates may not be changed, only the vice-presidential.

3. Our current estimate is that: (a) Campora, Perón’s puppet candidate, will attain a plurality, but not win a majority of the votes cast in the initial balloting; and (b) a run-off between Campora and, most probably, Balbin will be required on 8 April. Though unlikely, we cannot completely exclude a deal being made between Campora and one of the other candidates in an attempt to win without a run-off.

4. Until quite recently, the Argentine military has steadfastly maintained that should the Perónist candidate win this election, the military would not permit him to take office. A report in late January 1973 indicates that, under the pressure of Perónist political maneuvering, the Argentine military would now accept Campora’s election subject to some ground rules which would assure continuing military influence in various governmental spheres.

5. Any political action on the part of the U.S. Government in the Argentine elections would involve a relatively high-risk factor in the present highly-charged, volatile political climate in Argentina. As a result, it is proposed that the U.S. Government continue its current policy of not intervening in the Argentine elections prior to 11 March 1973. Reporting from Embassy [less than 1 line not declassified] should permit us to monitor the electoral situation closely and alert the 40 Committee to any significant developments which might merit reconsideration of the present policy of non-interference.

Thomas H. Karamessines
  1. Summary: The CIA reported on Argentina’s upcoming elections and recommended that the U.S. Government maintain a policy of non intervention.

    Source: National Security Council, Nixon Administration Intelligence Files, Subject Files A–I, 5 February 1973. Secret; Sensitive; Eyes Only. A copy was sent to Meyer. Forwarded to Jorden by Ratliff under a covering memorandum, February 5, in which Ratliff suggested that CIA’s memorandum be placed in the 40 Committee files and not forwarded to Kissinger. Jorden concurred. In a March 2 letter to the President, Ambassador Lodge stated he had “steadfastly remained aloof” in the election. (National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, NSC Files, Box 769, Country Files, Latin America, Argentina, 1 September 1971–31 December 1973)