54. Telegram From Secretary of State Vance’s Delegation to the Department of State1

52. Subj: Secretary’s Bilateral With Argentina (June 16)

1. Participants: US: Secretary Vance, Ambassador Todman, Undersecretary Habib, Ambassador McGee, Mrs. Van Reigersberg (Interpreter) Mr. S. Rogers (Notetaker). Argentina: Minister Montes, Vice Minister Guatter Oscar Allara, Minister Juan Carlos Arlia, Jose I Garcia Ghirelli, Atilio Norberto Motteni.

2. Subjects: Bilateral at OASGA with Argentina; Human Rights; nuclear non-proliferation.

3. After brief remarks about former Foreign Minister Guzzetti’s medical visit to the United States, and the Secretary’s comment that he was about to confer with Prime Minister Williams in Trinidad, the conversation went directly to Human Rights.

4. The Secretary informed the Argentines that the US would abstain on the two loans to Argentina in the World Bank but make a reference to the progress on Human Rights that had taken place. Montes nodded but said nothing at that point in response. The Secretary asked what Montes thought would come out of the General Assembly discussion of Human Rights.

5. Montes referred to his statement in the informal dialogue.2 He then described the situation and views of Argentina at considerable length. The 1976 army takeover was a national reorganization, not a revolution. There has been no political persecution. The Communist party, for instance, remains legal and publishes its newspaper freely. The problem is terrorism, not political rights—certain guarantees are indeed suspended but the constitution provides for suspension in a state of siege. Argentines are being governed by the law. The consequences of the state of siege apply only to terrorist criminals. He could not say precisely when the state of siege would be lifted, but so much [Page 202] improvement had taken place that terrorism might effectively be ended by the end of 1977.

6. Allara described the terrorist threat at the time the Armed Forces took over. Montes then returned to the question of the World Bank loans. He said Martinez de Hoz had reported on his conversation with Secretary Blumenthal and Dr Brzezinski.3 He said Argentina is very concerned that technical matters are being subordinated to political considerations. Martinez de Hoz had reported that people in the United States were not well-informed for instance concerning the number of people who had been released.

7. The Secretary responded that we had been able to decide to abstain instead of voting against. We would watch for further progress to see if we could soon vote in favor of loans for Argentina. Allara then proposed a collaborative effort to begin with a permanent, frank and thorough dialogue between the US and Argentina on all matters of common concern.

8. In answer to Undersecretary Habib’s question, Montes described Argentina’s vulnerability to trafficking in arms for guerrillas. Habib noted the Senate action of the day before to cut off all arms sales to Argentina after September 30, 1978, if no progress had been made by then on Human Rights, instead of an immediate cut off as proposed by Senator Kennedy.4 The Secretary said this change reflected the undoubted progress Argentina had made.

9. Coming back to the proposal for cooperation, Montes suggested a group of US Army officers visit Argentina to see the real situation. Allara then explained at length why the Argentine Government does not feel that it is violating Human Rights. Better knowledge would show the US that Argentina was merely defending the Western way of life.

10. Arlia then named five “subversive activists” who he said were providing the most abundant information on Argentina in the US: Robert Guevara (Che’s brother), Lucio Garzon-Macedo and Gustavo Roca, both lawyers with the People’s Revolutionary Army, Pedro Dualde, and Mrs Lily Mazzaferro. He said Guevara and Roca had worked with Brady Tyson on the US statement at the UN Human [Page 203] Rights Commission.5 He said that these people were frequently seen with Father Drinan. Roca, he said, had just been arrested in Denmark for robbing supermarkets and for having false identification papers. He had discussed this with Ms. Derian.

11. The Secretary described Ms. Derian as completely dedicated and very knowledgeable; Montes and Allara quickly agreed she had been very useful to the Argentines in her visit to their country,6 they added. She might be the first link in the collaborative effort that Argentina wants. In answer to the Secretary’s question, Arlia said Argentina favored strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights Commission by giving it more precise terms of reference. Its real job was to cooperate in the promotion of rights generally, not just focusing on government activities.

12. Ambassador Todman had earlier asked why Argentina did not accede to the Treaty of Tlateloco. Arlia said Argentina’s position was well known—that Tlateloco and the nuclear non-proliferation treaty discriminated against countries that needed to develop their nuclear energy capacity, such as Argentina. Argentina’s needs are entirely Pacific. Argentina needs to double its energy capacity by 1982. Nuclear power is indispensable.

13. The Secretary accepted that Argentina needed nuclear power but said that nothing in the treaty infringes on the right of peaceful use of nuclear energy. It would be entirely consistent for Argentina to sign the Tlateloco treaty. Allara said the Argentine Government was reviewing its attitude towards Tlateloco and the NPT, but safeguards were a more likely approach. Ambassador Todman stressed the international psychological importance of Argentina’s signing to encourage the few remaining others to do so.

[Page 204]

14. In conclusion, the Secretary said he would ask Ms. Derian to carry on her consultations with the Argentines on Human Rights. On other matters, he would work through our Ambassador and specialists. He hoped that he and Montes could continue their discusion. Montes agreed.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Secretariat Staff, Records of Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State, 1977–1980, Lot 80D135, Box 1, OAS meeting June 14–17, 1977, Grenada. Confidential; Immediate; Exdis. Vance was in Grenada for the OASGA. In telegram 6019 from the Secretary’s delegation in Port of Spain, June 17, summarized the conversation. (Ibid.)
  2. In his June 15 remarks, Montes “concentrated on terrorism as aggression from abroad aimed at destroying social fabric of his country, the object of a vast international conspiracy.” (Telegram 16 from Grenada, June 16; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770214–0933)
  3. Blumenthal met with Martínez de Hoz in Guatemala City on May 31. Blumenthal was in Guatemala City to attend the annual meeting of the Board of Governors of the Inter-American Development Bank. (Telegram 3446 from Guatemala City, June 1, National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770195–0758) Brzezinski met with Martínez de Hoz in Washington on June 4. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 4, Argentina, 1/77–12/78)
  4. Spencer Rich, “Senate Approves Bills on Economic, Arms Aid,” Washington Post, June 16, 1977, p. A–19.
  5. Reference is to the March 8 statement by Tyson, a U.S. delegate to the UNHRC. In telegram 1725 from Geneva, March 8, USUN transmitted the text of Tyson’s comments. Tyson said, “In discussing Chile we would be less than candid, and untrue to ourselves and to our people, if the delegation from the United States did not in any discussion of the situation in Chile express its profoundest regrets for the role that some U.S. Government officials, agencies and private groups played in the subversion of the previous, democratically-elected, Chilean government, that was overthrown by the coup of September 11, 1973.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770080–0278) In telegram 51963 to all American Republic diplomatic posts, March 9, the Department transmitted press guidance on the Tyson statement: “Tyson’s statement was a personal one that was not approved in advance and is not an expression of the administration views.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770080–0479)
  6. Derian visited Argentina for 4 days in late March and early April. (Telegram 2496 from Buenos Aires, April 4; National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770117–0230; “Carter Rights Aide, Visiting Argentina, Warns on Violations,” New York Times, April 3, 1977, p. 11; Karen DeYoung, “Carter Aide in Argentina to Gauge Rights Impact,” Washington Post, March 31, 1977, p. 17)