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February 7, 1975
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Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 002991969 c /yr The National Intelligence Daily 3.5(c) -TOP-SECRET Published by the Director of Central Intelligence for Named Principals Only Copy No. 169 FRIDAY FEBRUARY 7, 1975 VOLUME 2, NUMBER 32 � The Daily Summary ARGENTINA: President Peron's dependence on her principal adviser, Jose Lopez Rega, has become a major political liability. Lopez Rega could become the catalyst that brings the military back into politics, once the tide has been ' ' gainst terrorism. (Page 2) 3.5(c) 3.5(c) ...IOP-SEORET Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 002991969 2 FRIDAY FEBRUARY 7, 1975 Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 002991969 --T-OP-SECIFTET- 3.5(c) THE NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE DAILY MOM r 11 EEVH pet Dependence on Aide Hurts Argentine President The dependence of Argentine President Maria Estela Peron on the shadowy Jose Lopez Rega as her principal political mentor has become a major vulnerability. In the six months since Juan Peron's death, Lopez Rega has emerged as the de facto strongman of the regime, and his personality and power have alienated the Argentine military and the country's other power brokers. � As minister of social welfare since Juan Peron returned to the presidency in October 1973, Lopez Rega has controlled over 20 percent of the national budget. � As secretary to the presidency, Lopez Rega has the authority to coordinate all of the President's official activities and has access to all the information she gets from any public official. He formally assumed this job only last month, but the appointment merely legitimized a role he was already filling. � As the government's unofficial coor- dinator for the fight against leftist Lopez Rega terrorists, Lopez Rega is widely believed to be the mastermind behind the "death squads" that are trying to terrorize the terrorists. � It is Lopez Rega's strong personal in- fluence over the inexperienced and in- secure President, however, that gives him his greatest source of power. Mrs. Peron relies on Lopez Rega as a political strategist, personal confidant, and for psychological support. She seems swayed by his mysticism; he claims to be in com- munication with the spirit of Juan Peron and makes no attempt to hide his involve- ment in the occult. Lopez Rega serves as a kind of political lightning rod, drawing criticism to him- self for administrative failures that might otherwise be blamed on the President. Path to Power Jose Lopez Rega had a checkered career before he met Juan Peron. He was a police corporal, a nightclub bouncer and singer, a small-time publisher. He wrote several books on astrology. He in- gratiated himself with Juan Peron in Madrid in the mid-1960s and became the exiled leader's private secretary and bodyguard. It is unlikely that Juan Peron, during this period, ever turned to his secretary for advice on important matters, but Lopez Rega did manage some of Peron's business interests and was the leg man in some of Peron's political and financial dealings. On Peron's return to power in October 1973, the loyal servant was rewarded with a cabinet job. Mrs. Peron and Lopez Rega have been close friends for more than a decade and partners in a wide variety of business ven- tures. They are reported to be joint in- heritors of Juan Peron's sizable estate. Now 58, Lopez Rega is not a par- ticularly adept administrator. Indeed, his performance as minister of social welfare has been mediocre. He is, however, adept at blackmail and at intimidating his op- ponents; he has steadily strengthened his position by arranging the appointment of sycophants and allies to high government positions. He publicly scorns popular references to him as El Brujo (the sorcerer), but probably finds his reputation as a mystic useful in intimidating and confusing his enemies. Whether he takes his pseudoscientific interests seriously, they give him a sinister air and inspire widespread fear. VORMARESEMagenterang�, E "I put out a bait for the enemy to play with, arguing about whether Jam a great astrologer, warlock, or wizard,. and while he is busy with that, I am able to work and serve my country... .1 have no time to listen to the barking dogs, I must ride on..." MENERNMENIMENNESIVESONIEREMME Murky Atmosphere It may be that no one person governs Argentina today. The inner workings of Mrs. Peron's administration are cloaked from view. From somewhere within, ex- ecutive decrees and ministerial pronouncements emerge, and an inert Peronist-controlled legislature promptly ratifies them. The return of Peronism by popular mandate in 1973 has proved to be little more than the replacement of a military cabal by bureaucratic authoritarianism. This murky, unstructured atmosphere is made to order for Lopez Rega. He has appealed to ultra-nationalistic, anti- Marxist, and anti-Semitic forces within Argentina. He has encouraged Mrs. Peron to take a political stance to the right of her late husband�a shift that has cut off communication with the moderate Peronist left and seriously damaged any chances for unifying the movement. In the process, he has made many powerful enemies. In Argentina's hidebound, highly stratified society, he is regarded as an interloper by the leaders of all major pressure groups. Instead of attempting to mollify these critics, Lopez Rega antagonizes them, for example, by appearing at Mrs. Perons's side whenever she makes a formal appearance. One of those Lopez Rega has alienated is Ricardo Balbin, the leader of the moderate opposition Radical Party. Juan Peron had started a dialogue with Balbin, but Mrs. Peron has let it languish. Believ- ing that Lopez Rega is chiefly responsible, Balbin has denounced recent government actions and criticized the extent of Lopez Rega's power. Protests have come from military com- manders, who distrust the ties Lopez Rega is said to have with the minister of defense and the chief of the federal police. Although the commanders share with Lopez Rega a fear of the left and a goal of defeating leftist terrorists, the com- manders think that he seeks to aggrandize his power at their expense. Lopez Rega's earlier alliances with a number of other cabinet ministers and a key Peronist labor leader have cooled. He even has enemies in extreme right-wing circles. An Unwanted Problem Despite the wide range of this opposi- tion, it is unlikely that any group or coali- tion will move decisively to depose him. They will try to contain and undercut him, but none seem willing to force the issue with the highly emotional President, who might resign and leave them all with an unwanted succession problem. This reluc- tance will probably last until the tide is turned in the struggle against terrorism. Once terrorism ceases to be the major preoccupation, the armed forces could find ready support among political and labor groups to present Mrs. Peron with an ultimatum on Lopez Rep. Even if they did, it is doubtful that she would give him up. Lopez Rega's role as a major actor probably will have a short run in Argen- tine politics, but he could be the catalyst that will bring the military back into politics. US observers on the scene see the possibility that a military-labor alliance will take power and im ose a neo-fascist dictatorship. 3.5(c) NR �TOP-SECRET Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 002991969 NR NR Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 002991969 Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 002991969 NR Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 002991969 Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 002991969 NR