4. Telegram 4021 From the Embassy in Argentina to the Department of State1
4021. For Asst Secretary Kubisch From Ambassador Lodge. Subj: Suggested Personal Approach to Perón.
1. I believe that Perón’s arrival in Buenos Aires with President Campora, now set for Wednesday, June 20, confronts us with an unprecedented opportunity for imaginative and realistic diplomacy: (A) Perón’s great ambition is to be the leader of Latin America. He has so stated. (B) While he will probably not reach his objective, there is a good chance that he will exert enormous influence throughout Latin America because of his ability to identify himself with people’s preoccupations and aspirations. Many traditional anti-Perónists are changing their point of view because of their conviction that Perón is the only person who can save Argentina at this point. There is a considerable tide in his favor. (C) Perón may well be able to cope with the ERP and even disband it, thus removing Campora’s greatest present worry. President Nixon’s imaginative and courageous trips to Moscow and Peking changed our diplomatic frame of reference and constitute a major breakthrough in diplomatic norms which suggests a breakthrough in the direction of Perón.
2. Based on conversations which I have had with notable people, I believe that what Perón really wants is public recognition by the U.S. of his unique role of leadership in the Argentine situation today. It is a fact of life which we cannot ignore and which would, without our saying so, place Argentina, as far as the U.S. is concerned, in a position similar to Mexico and Brazil.
3. I believe that Department should consider instructing Ambassador Rivero in Madrid to make a friendly approach to Perón prior to his departure with President Campora for Buenos Aires. Admiral Rivero could say that the American Ambassador in Buenos Aires would like to call on him while he is here, to assure him, as Secretary Rogers assured President Campora, that we desire friendly and constructive relations.[Page 10]
4. This could have a most beneficial effect on American companies doing business in Argentina. The consequences of such a move would probably reduce materially the anti-American sentiments in Argentina and elsewhere in Latin America. It would be a fresh start and would help to forestall increased anti-American attitudes which might well ensue when Perón disappears from the scene. This would not, as I see it, involve specific financial or commercial aid. It would be appropriate, I think, for me to hand Perón a personal letter from President Nixon. The matter is urgent and, if we can handle it effectively, could produce benefits of incalculable significance not only in U.S.-Argentine relations, but throughout Latin America. The opportunity will probably not return in such a potentially propitious form.
5. I have discussed the foregoing with appropriate members of the Country Team and the idea has their full support.
Summary: Lodge suggested that U.S. officials make approaches to Juan Perón prior to and immediately following his return to Argentina from Spain.
Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Files 1970–73, POL ARG–US. Secret; Immediate; Nodis. In telegram 113357 to Buenos Aires, June 11, Kubisch authorized Lodge to set up a low-key meeting with Perón, but indicated that Nixon would not write a letter to him as Lodge suggested. (Ibid.) No evidence of a Lodge-Perón meeting has been found.↩