83. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Argentina1

162533. Subject: Human Rights and U.S. Programs in Argentina. Ref: State 1615092

1. On basis fact that IAHRC does not feel able accept conditional Argentina invitation,3 Secretary has decided that:

(A) We cannot go forward, as hoped, with military training package and defense is being informed;4

[Page 278]

(B) In recognition of modest improvements, we will (after congressional consultations) release safety items (listed Septel)5 including compasses for vessels of U.K. manufacture;

(C) We will inform ExIm Bank that, on foreign policy grounds, we recommend against financing for Argentina at this time (this applies primarily to Allis Chalmers application for Yacireta hydroelectric project);

(D) We recommend against ExIm financing of aircraft but would not object to export if they can be privately financed.6

2. Department hopes arrange congressional consultations, including Senator Kennedy, on these cases this week.

3. Embassy may inform GOA, stressing disappointment that they have not been able extend normal invitation to IAHRC (along lines of other Latin American countries) and have not as yet been able move appreciably on either releases of detainees or establishment of responsive machinery for those seeking information on relatives who have disappeared. Of course, any mutually acceptable agreement between the IAHRC and the GOA enabling the commission to go to Argentina would be viewed as a positive development.7 These points stressed to Deputy Foreign Minister Allara as reported RefTel. (FYI: Argentina also has not halted illegal detentions and disappearances. End FYI)

4. FYI: Any prospect that we might have considered ExIm Bank financing apart from Human Rights matters was eliminated by Allara’s insistence that GOA looked upon restrictions on ExIm financing as political act and clearly sought approval of such financing as indication of U.S. acceptance. End FYI.

5. ExIm has informed both Allis-Chalmers and Boeing of decision.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780265–0540. Secret; Niact Immediate; Exdis. Drafted by Newsom; cleared by Schneider, Bushnell, McGiffert, Oxman, in H and S/S-O, and for information in EB; and approved by Newsom.
  2. The Department reported, June 24, on Newsom’s meeting with Allara: “Newsom once again explained need to do something about prisoners, torture, disappearances and international inspection if United States is to justify policy changes, including military programs. Newsom welcomed invitation to Inter-American Human Rights Commission but there was no indication whether Argentine invitation would be acceptable to Commission.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780263–0255)
  3. The invitation permitted the Commission “to verify that the actions taken by the GOA in dealing with the subversive/terrorist threat are fully consonant with the state-of-siege powers authorized by the constitution” and did not authorize the IAHRC to “take testimony from individuals, nor would it visit jails or meet with human rights groups.” (Telegram 4814 from Buenos Aires, June 23, National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780261–0530)
  4. Vance informed Brown of these developments in an undated letter. (National Archives, RG 59, Office of the Deputy Secretary: Records of Warren Christopher, 1977–1980, Lot 81D113, Box 27, Human Rights—Argentina III)
  5. In telegram 163244 to Buenos Aires, June 27, the Department transmitted the list. (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780266–0527)
  6. In a June 28 memorandum to Carter, Vance noted that “if the invitation had been acceptable to the Commission, we had planned to go forward with the sale of military training to Argentina and to recommend that the Export-Import Bank approve certain pending applications for financing of some sizeable projects in Argentina. We do not plan to take these steps now in view of the character of the Argentine offer.” In the margin, Carter wrote, “my slight inclination would be to find an excuse to approve training & to hold back ExIm deal.” (Carter Library, National Security Affairs, Brzezinski Material, Subject File, Box 20, Evening Reports (State), 6/78)
  7. In telegram 4971 from Buenos Aires, June 28, Castro reported on his meeting with Viola, who said “that he didn’t think the USG would be expecting substantial results in such a short time—referring to Newsom visit. Having difficulty in speaking, he mumbled the World Cup had sapped all of Argentina of its energy and GOA had almost come to a complete stop for a month. He felt the USG was being somewhat inconsiderate.” (National Archives, RG 59, Central Foreign Policy File, D780268–0082)