316. Telegram From the Embassy in Uruguay to the Department of State1

336. Subj: GOU Reviews Relations With U.S. Ref: State 015150.2

1. Summary: An atmosphere of tenseness in US/Uruguayan relations surrounds a series of high-level government meetings now underway. Various sources indicate that the sessions are emotionally charged and are dealing primarily with GOU concerns that a series of U.S. moves involving military personnel assignments, a small arms purchase, MilGroup termination, the Koch Amendment,3 the IDB Fisheries Loan, use of prior year FMS credits and other measures now including shoe exports constitute conscious USG harrassment of Uruguay. We do not believe any decisions as to how to react have been made. The only outward manifestation of displeasure to date has been the GOU (and the Army’s) failure to acknowledge the presence of our recently arrived Army attaché.

2. A series of meetings involving the President, FonMin Rovira, and the Military Chiefs, among others has created an atmosphere of tenseness in US/Uruguayan relations. The arrival of Ambassadors Perez Caldas and Giambruno from Washington and New York, respectively, and OAS Alternate Rep Araneo, contributed further to the feeling that something important is afoot, in spite of Perez Caldas statement that relations with the U.S. are “cordial as always.” Media coverage has been widespread but shallow, due to lack of information.

3. The meetings are being portrayed as a review of GOU/USG relations, ostensibly concentrating on the U.S. shoe import restrictions. However, a variety of well-informed sources indicate that the whole range of bilateral relations is indeed being discussed with the GOU reaction to the Col. Fons and Major Gaazzo matter4 being given primary [Page 895] consideration in a tense and emotional atmosphere. The military reportedly are greatly concerned over U.S. intentions, not knowing whether we have in mind vetoing everyone ever involved in military intelligence, or even going beyond that to veto anyone ever involved in anti-terrorist campaigns, a move which would exclude most senior officers, at least, from U.S. assignments. Complicating matters is a belief that the U.S. is focusing on Uruguay and is singling it out for punitive measures. These include the Koch Amendment, the delay in obtaining an export license for the Smith and Wesson small arms purchase, the termination of the MilGroup, the Harkin Amendment and the USG objection to the use of FSO funds for the IDB fisheries loan, the use of prior year FMS credits for improvements on naval vessels, and now the threat to the Uruguayan shoe industry. Key officials are aware of the broad scope of MilGroup terminations and of possible restrictions on shoe imports and they know why we opposed FSO funds for the fisheries loan. Nevertheless, there have been so many recent U.S. moves impacting adversely on Uruguay that the nation’s leaders appear to conclude that the U.S. has adopted a policy of conscious harrassment of Uruguay. Once word reached them on our refusal to permit the transfer of old F–86s from Argentina to Uruguay,5 they will be even more convinced that our moves are part of a concerted U.S. effort to chastise Uruguay.

4. We do not believe that the Uruguayans have reached any decisions as to how to deal with us. The only apparent reaction to date has been the Army’s refusal thus far to even acknowledge the presence of the recently arrived Army attaché.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770028–1026. Secret; Priority; Stadis; Exdis.
  2. Dated January 24. The Department reported on a conversation between Perez Caldas and Zimmermann regarding Perez Caldas’s return to Uruguay for consultations. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770025-0401)
  3. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E-11, Part 2, Documents on South America, 1973–1976, Document 348.
  4. See Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. E-11, Part 2, Documents on South America, 1973–1976, Documents 365369.
  5. In telegram 15032 to Buenos Aires, January 22, the Department informed the Embassies in Argentina and Uruguay that it had decided to deny Argentina’s request to transfer 12 F-86 aircraft to Uruguay. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770024-0685) In telegram 308 from Montevideo, January 24, Siracusa objected to both that decision and that “the Department did not see fit even to consult this Embassy before taking a decision which can have so profound an effect on US-Uruguay relations.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770025-0946)