7. Intelligence Memorandum1
ARGENTINA: PERÓN RETURNS
Since Perón’s fall from power in 1955, no party, no leader, and no formula has succeeded in healing bitter political and social divisions, nor in raising Argentina anywhere near its very considerable economic potential. The resounding Peronist electoral victory under Hector Campora in March 1973, and Campora’s resignation from office on 13 July, open the way for Perón to return to the presidency for a second effort at national reconstruction. Whether the Peronists of the seventies will rerun the mistakes and excesses of the forties and fifties, or whether they have learned from hard experience and can provide the peace and prosperity Argentines yearn for remains an open question. Argentine history almost requires a certain degree of pessimism, however.
True, the new regime possesses greater assets for success than did the string of failed governments—especially its charismatic leader and broad popular support. But it will face a number of formidable problems. Perón must hold together the disparate and feuding elements of his movement; maintain his revolutionary mystique without becoming the captive of self-defeating xenophobia; contain both the terrorist extremists and the conservative military; and launch a belt-tightening development program in a self-indulgent society. Additionally, the 77-year old Perón adds special personal liabilities as well as strengths to the new regime.
The return of Peronism will in general have a negative effect on US-Argentine relations. The implications for the US are discussed in paragraphs 24–27.
[Omitted here are sections entitled “New Politics, Old Problems;” “Perón, Master Manipulator;” “The New Government’s Assets;” “Lia[Page 19]bilities and Uncertainties;” and “A Clouded Perspective after Two Months of Peronist Rule.”]
Summary: In the wake of Cámpora’s resignation, the CIA concluded that Perón’s return to power would have a negative impact on U.S.-Argentine relations.
Source: Central Intelligence Agency, Office of the Director of Central Intelligence, Job 80M01048A: Subject Files, Box 1, Folder 11: A-20: Argentina. Secret. A note on the original reads: “This memorandum was prepared in the Office of National Estimates and coordinated with appropriate offices in CIA. Comments may be addressed to: [less than 1 line not desclassified].” Sent to Colby and Walters under a July 20 covering memorandum. On August 11, Colby wrote on the covering memorandum, “Sorry I’ve been so long. —This is obviously an excellent paper and presents the present status as one offering various forks in the road ahead well. —It might be possible, however, to be a bit more precise on potential alternative developments and the factors causing them, as the analysis might then suggest some possible actions to take as a result. Overall, however, fine. —WEC 8/11/73.”↩