343. Telegram 295966 From the Department of State to the Embassy in Uruguay1

295966. Subject: Meeting With Wilson Ferreira. Ref: (A) MVD 4266, (B) MVD 4080, (C) State 291185

1. APU Country Director, Deputy Director, Desk Officer and George Lister met with Uruguayan opposition leader Wilson Ferreira and son Juan Raul Ferreira December 12. Following are highlights of conversation:

A. Ferreira said the primary purpose of his trip to the US (and Mexico, Columbia, etc.) was to raise the issue of Human Rights in Uruguay. He made essentially the same points as reported in reftel B, that between 25–30,000 persons had passed through Uruguayan jails under the present administration, that between 5–8,000 persons are [Page 925] normally in jail in Uruguay at any given time, and that torture is a common practice. Ferreira mentioned, among others, the specific case of Lopez Balestra, an ex-congressman, who according to Ferreira was arrested and tortured two months ago. He also said Uruguay’s population had declined since the present regime assumed power.

B. Ferreira said every Uruguayan believes the USG is responsible for keeping the Bordaberry regime in power. Asked for a specific example, he mentioned the political crisis of last May. Ferreira stated that it is commonly believed that the USG intervened to keep Bordaberry in power. He also said the Bordaberry administration has received more US assistance over the last two years than all previous democratic Uruguayan Governments. This assistance comes from private US banks, the USG economic and military assistance programs, the International Financial Institutions “indirectly controlled by the US” (e.g. World Bank, IDB)

C. The meeting lasted an hour and a half. Ferreira stated he had talked to Senator Kennedy and Congressman Fraser’s Staff Assistant in addition to others. MemCon follows by Pouch.

2. Bartch informed Uruguayan Minister Talamas (Ambassador was not available) earlier this morning that meeting had been scheduled at Ferreira’s request. Talamas expressed appreciation for being notified in advance, and said he would inform Ambassador Perez Caldas.

  1. Summary: The Department summarized discussions held with Wilson Ferreira Aldunate, Uruguayan former senator and presidential candidate, on December 12.

    Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D750437–0247. Confidential; Immediate. Drafted by Brazeal; approved by Ryan; and cleared by Lister and Bartch. In a memorandum to Rogers on November 26, Siracusa urged that Ferreira not be “received by anyone in the Bureau, Department of State, or Executive Branch” since he had “taken to sniping at the Uruguayan government in a most irresponsible fashion” and “his reception by anyone in the Department or Executive Branch would be exploited for personal propagandistic purposes in a way adverse to our interest.” (National Archives, RG 59, Human Rights Subject Files 1973–1975, Lot 77D391, Human Rights—Uruguay) In telegram 291185 to Montevideo, December 10, the Department responded that Rogers had declined to see Ferreira, but since “it is our policy to listen to just about anyone who wishes to talk to us” and since Ferreira “remains one of the few non-Marxist political quote figures of importance unquote,” Ferreira would be received by lower-level personnel in ARA. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D750429–0935) In telegram 4266 from Montevideo, December 11, Siracusa responded that he believed a meeting with Ferreira “will have a detrimental effect on our relations with Uruguay” since “he is on a mission abroad looked upon by the GOU as an effort to defame it.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D750432–0335)