56. Memorandum From the President’s Assistant for National Security Affairs (Brzezinski) to President Carter1


  • Your Remark That Argentine Improvements in Human Rights Should be Acknowledged

The State Department has prepared a short report (Tab A)2 assessing the significance of Argentine President Videla’s recent steps (on June 14) to improve the country’s human rights image. Our mission in Argentina and the Department suggest that these steps—the release of 342 persons, the processing of 1,000 cases, the reexamination of the right of exile—should be “viewed cautiously.” Nonetheless, the Department has sent a cable which instructs our Embassy to acknowledge and express our continued interest and encouragement for these and other steps which improve the human rights picture in Argentina. The State Department also requested further information on whether the announced steps have been taken.3

A recent cable summarizing President Videla’s trip to Uruguay4 appears to reinforce the conclusion that we should be more cautious about accepting announcements of reforms by the Latin American military governments at face value. At his press conference at the conclusion of his visit, Videla backed away from recent statements on democracy and instead said that his government has no fixed timetable for the installation of a democratic form of government.

  1. Source: Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Brzezinski Office File, Country Chron File, Box 3, Argentina, 1977–1978. Secret. Sent for information. Carter initialed the top right-hand corner of the memorandum. Pastor forwarded this memorandum to Brzezinski under a July 7 covering memorandum and recommended that it be sent to Carter. A handwritten note indicates that Brzezinski discussed the memorandum with Carter on July 9. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Staff Material, North/South, Pastor, Country Files, Box 1, Argentina, 2–12/77)
  2. A July 2 memorandum from Tarnoff to Brzezinski on human rights in Argentina is attached but not printed. (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Country File, Box 4, Argentina, 1/77–12/78)
  3. See footnote 3, Document 57.
  4. Telegram 2567 from Montevideo, July 1. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D770236–0142)