19. Transcript of the Secretary of State’s Principals’ and Regionals’ Staff Meeting1
[Omitted here are a list of participants and material unrelated to Argentina.]
Secretary Kissinger: How about Argentina?
Mr. Kubisch: I think you are probably fairly well up to date. The situation for Argentina is still relatively tranquil. Whether or not Mrs.Perón will be able to hold onto power—I would say almost certainly not. Whether she will be able to hold onto the office of the presidency without power as a figurehead is a possibility.
Secretary Kissinger: Does she want power?
Mr. Kubisch: I think she probably wants to carry on as the leader of the Peronist movement. But she really is a rather sad, very feminine person, and really is sort of bewildered by it all.
Secretary Kissinger: You consider those two adjectives necessarily—
Mr. Kubisch: No. I just want to give a profile. Just a shorthand description. She is obviously in awe of the responsibilities. She has a sixth grade education. She was a dancer, as you may know. And she is surrounded by a lot of very tough, ambitious, ruthless people. And there is a very real question about how long she will stay there. From our point of view, it creates some potential problems for us, both in terms of bilateral matters—because in this particular period immediately ahead, something like a countervailing duty action by Treasury can have enormous repercussions there and strengthen the hands of some of the left.[Page 57]
Secretary Kissinger: Well, we just have to stop it. We have got to do something about that countervailing duty problem. We have got to get on top of it earlier, and in every case where it is being considered, we ought to get a group formed. Can we work that out with Simon?
Mr. Ingersoll: Sure.
Mr. Kubisch: We really have just been coping in recent weeks.
Secretary Kissinger: Yes. But I never get aware of it until 48 hours before it is done.
Mr. Kubisch: That’s the problem. That is because we are not aware, in a sense. What happens—there was a complaint made on Argentina a year ago. Treasury didn’t act on it, because it was just a minor fraction of our imports, until a court made a decision to require them to act, and then Treasury said “We are going to announce an investigation.” We have held it off now as a result of your intervention and other things we have done.
Secretary Kissinger: Is (Vignes) likely to stay?
Mr. Kubisch: I don’t know. She has reaffirmed the entire cabinet. I think he is likely to stay for a while. I think as long as she stays as President, she will probably maintain the same cabinet, and maintain some kind of Council of State, to run the affairs of the country. But the moment there comes a conflict between two or three of the elements in the government, and she is unable to resolve it—and she probably doesn’t have the strength or the intellect or experience to cope with it. So it could be a serious problem and could create a problem for us, in terms of the next meeting of Foreign Ministers—Argentina is the Secretary Pro Tem—in the next six months it could be difficult for us because of that.
[Omitted here is material unrelated to Argentina.]
Summary: Kubisch reported on political developments in Argentina resulting from Isabel Perón’s ascension to the Presidency and warned that the U.S. policy of applying countervailing duties on Argentine exports could have negative repercussions.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Transcripts of Kissinger Staff Meetings, Entry 5177, Lot 78D443, Box 4, Secretary’s Staff Meetings. Secret. In a June 19 memorandum to Kissinger, Kubisch recommended that the Secretary ask Simon to delay an announcement that countervailing duties were being imposed on Argentina; Kissinger approved. (Ibid., Central Foreign Policy File, P830032–2280) In a June 21 telephone conversation with Simon, Kissinger convinced Simon to delay application of the countervailing duties for a week. (Department of State, FOIA Electronic Reading Room, Kissinger Transcripts) In a June 21 staff meeting, Kubisch discussed the impact of the countervailing duties problem on U.S.-Latin American relations. A transcript of that discussion is published in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, Vol. E–11, Part 1, Documents on Mexico; Central America; and the Caribbean 1973–1976. Subsequent U.S.-Argentine consultation resulted in a U.S. determination that Argentine footwear was not being subsidized in a way that would trigger countervailing duties. (Telegram 304031 to Buenos Aires, December 30, 1975; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D750449–0535)↩