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April 3, 2019
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April 12, 2019
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June 30, 1964
Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 6t-Le SECRET MEMORANDUM OF CONVERSATION PARTICIPANTS: Jacob� =AMMAN. Director of Prirnera Plana Ambassador Martin Mr. Rabenold� Political Counselor Mr. Peres, Embassy Press Officer (USIS) DATE: June 30, 1964 PLACE: The Residence SUBJECT: Present Political Situation in Argentina Jacobo Timeraan called on the Ambaesador at the residence June 30. He is the Director of Primera Plana, an influential weekly news review, and a close collaborator of FRONDIZI and FRIGERIO. He likes to operate as a go-between on matters political. Timentaa,remarluid that the Ambassador had arrived in Argentina at an exciting time and that it would become more exciting. He asked for the Ambassador's analysis of the present situation. The Ambassador commented briefly on the various problems fazing the country at the moment, such as the meat shortage, the sugar crisis, the Plan de Lucha of the CGT. the nil contracts and the budget deficit. He said that all of these problems, except perhaps the budget deficit which is the most serious had been unnecessarily exaggerated in the local press and that tensions had been built up out of proportion to what was involved. He referred to the views of several reputable sources that the Government had handled the CGT problem in a smart fashion. He then asked for Timer-man' s opinion. Tiroerman began by saying that he would not want to seem imperti- nent but he dieagreed with the Ambassador's analysis. Before giving his views on the current situation, however, he wished to relate an experience which just ended an hour before his arrival at the residence. Last **chime - day, he said, he met in his office with Bernardo SAS, former Minister of Labor, and with Leopoldo SUAREZ, and drafted a compromise plan which the COE might present to the Presiden.t. This plan included a proposal that the President change some members of his Cabinet. The CGE agreed to the plea and Suarez felt that he could get the support of the SECRET Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 SECRET � 2 - military for it. It was then decided to present it to the President to see if he would agree provided the COT would come along. When the CGE met with the President on Friday, June Z6 (after having their interview postponed for 20 days), the President's reaction was that In general it was a good idea but he did not quite see how he could in tact put it through. However, he asked them to see Palmer* on Monday. Palnaero also thought it was a goad proposal and that per- haps it might be possible to put it through if the COT was prepared to support it. Bas went to see Atoms* of the CGT. Alone� rejected the suggestion of a change in the composition of the Cabinet, which in effect reversed an earlier position of the CG T. while earlier CGT spokesmen had thought Cabinet changes would do they were now con- vhsced they would make no essential difference and there must be a change in Government. This was then conveyed back to the military with the inquiry whether they wanted to press ahead regardless, or put pressure on the CGT. The military, on hearing the CGT position, confessed that they thought it probably made sense. Alonzo's reasoning was that a change in the Cabinet would not be accepted by the President, and, even if it were, it would not result an any basic change in attitude which is what was rewired. Furthermore, it would place the CGT in the awkard position of having to wait and see whether the changes resulted in anything substantive and then to decide what to do next. The rank and file of the CGT might become impatient Sad troublesome. At this point, Timmerman quoted an Argentine saying that if labor leaders do not place themselves at the head of the rank and file, the rank and file will walk away with their heads. hen asked what the reaction of the military was to the pronosal of a Cabinet change, Tin-german said that they agreed with Alonso. Timerman then went on to say why he thought both were correct and why the solution lay in another direction. He stated that, as the Ambas- sador indicated, there were problems like the meat shortage, the sugar crisis, the CGT Plan de Lu.cha and the oil contracts, and perhaps these had been exaggerated in the press. The clirnate of tension in the country, however, was not due so much to these problems which were transitory; it was due basically to the ineptitude of the existing Government (meaning the UCRP). Tirnerman would not speculate whether President Illia was uninformed, or if informed, unable or unwilling to act. He merely said SECRET Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 SIXRET 3 that the Government spoke same sort of language it might be French. German or Swiss -- but it was not the language dictated by the situation in the country. The Administration simply did not understand the present difficulties and was so fixed in its ideology that it was incapable of facing up to the problems realistically. In TimermanIs estimation the only solution was not a change in the Cabinet but a change in the Government. And the only vehicle for achiev- ing this was the military. He had a high opinion of the present composi- tion of the military, pointing out that it was composed of young officers, all &ad...Peron from top to bottom and controlled by the most capable of them, the aanlee. For the first time in many years, he said, the military were united and, with the help of a new generation of young civilian experts, were capable of constructive action. For example, the railroad problem was critical and only the military could take drastic decisions necessary to cut the railway deficit. Timerman did not think, however, that the military would move at this time. He gave several reasons for this: (1) Math the military has a general ideology which is anti' communist and anti-Peron, it has not yet formulated a position on specific current domestic issues; (2) The constitutionalist sentiment is strong; (3) The military would want the support of labor but do not think they can work with the COT so long as Peron is using it for his own political purposes (he added that no government can suc- ceed without the support of labor); (4) The military would not want to act immediately after the YPF occupation of the oil fields since this might look like a "golpe petrolero" for the purpose of protecting U. S. interests. (5) The situation has not deteriorated enough. The mili- tary would want to be SUMO of a clear mandate from the people and not leap prematurely. hen asked how long the alleged growing crisis would last. Timer- man estimated a period of two or three months. By September or October he thought that conditions would so verge on the chaotic that the military would feel forced to act, especially as a result of increases in the cost of living. SECRET Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 SECRET - 4 - with regard to the oil contracts. Tiroerman said that he could not care less if U. 5. companies lost millions of dollars in their investments In Argentina. What vitally concerned him and the country as a whole was whether the Government's oil policy might result in oil importation. This was the crux of the matter. The importation of oil would have serious political as well as economic consequences. Turning to the Government's economic policy as a whole, Timerman thought that Dna, a approach was from the wrong end. Instead of trying to hold down prices, the Government should be concentrating Its efforts on greater production and higher wages. Timerman played down the importance of the efforts of ELIZALDE and CARRANZA. He looked upon the five-year plan as window dressing and unlikely to affect the ?resent crisis which was essentially one of lack of confidence in the Government. Assuming the five-year plan was adopted. the Government would be incapable of carry- ing it out. In addition to the above, Time:roan had a number of sharp com- ments to make concerning various Argentine personalities wheats names Caine up in the coarse of the conversation: Ulla Timerman said that the President had a longs.tinte reputation as a compromiser. In fact, he has the nickname of.XI Tatedo3ro (the weaver). This made him especially effective in small-town politics but has not served him particularly well when face to face with national problems. Fros,disi - Tifnerman's admiration of Frondizi was very evident. rranditti, he said, knew how to operate. He not only moved in the right direction but was particularly astute in ,,laying one pressure group off against another. He was also able to attract and develop a competent and disciplined Lady of young men in national politics. However, it was a miracle that Frondizi lasted tour years in office, for the military was against him no matter what be did. BeCat150 of the a-Alitary Timermarz did not think that Frondizi had a political future. He might succeed in building up the ZAP. as another factor in Argentine politics, but this would probably take two years and Frondizi was unlikely to do very much In the March elections, assuming these took place. Perette Timermaa stated that ne knew Perette very well. He obviously did not have a high opinion of hi Tn. He considered him Incompetent, very ambitious, and prone to making the same *peach SECRET Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 SECRET . 5 - over and over again about the sacred flag and the national patrimony. Timernan mimicked some of Perette's eccentricities and related the episode of Perette reading the wrong statistics in a debate before Congress. Pagep Larrays: Timerman described this mast as crazy. Be said that Pages was close to Perette and that he understood he had gone to Madrid with some proposal from Perette to Peron. General Villegas - Timerman mentioned the same of General Villages several times. Evidently Villages has participated with Timer- man in recent political discussions and obviously Timerman has a high opinion of the General and his views. Bernardo Bee In the course of describing Das' role in the CGE-CGT discussions of the past week, Timerrnan said that Bae was greatly respect. ed by labor elements. He is a union lawyer of twenty-years experience and served as Mbtister of Labor Just prior to the coming to power of the present Govertunent. Bas is working in Cordoba now. Senator Caatoni � The Ambassador mentioned that Senator Canton' of San Juan travelled on the same ship with him to Buenos Aires and seemed to be a power in San Juan politics. Timerrnan remarked that at the present time Cantoni does not have as much power in San Juan as the Ambassador seemed to think. Senatoy Stutag - The Ambassador also mentioned meeting Senator Sapag of Ideuqtten. Timenran conceded that Sapag was very powerful in his Province. He said that many of Sapag's constituents think that he is the President. This may be due, as the story goes, to the confusion arnong, some voters in Neuquen between Elfas (Sapag's first name) and Tit:carman closed his exposition by adopting the Ambassador's use of the phrase "political thermometer" and stating that the boiling point In Argentina is vary law. In Chile this situation would probably seem quite favorable; in Brasil the people would tolerate a lot more. In Argen- tina, Timer:nen saw little hope for the future. He did not think there SECRET Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795 SECRET would be any Cabinet changes. A coalition would not work. The situation was deteriorating and the military were not prepared to move. Be con- sidered that the country was entering a political vacuum which might only serve the purposes of undesirable militant elements. In his estima- tion this was too bad sincelia could do a lot U he wanted to. He has the basic good will of the Array which Frondizi never had, and the military is unified as it has not been before. In spite of everythin� else he said. Timerman, eaw no alternative for the moment but to support Iltia and keep him In power. This seemed like a blatant contradiction after Tircerrnants repeated insistence that the only solution was a change in Government but was probably dictated by the need to wait until the military were ready to move. At the end. Timerman revealed many of the symptoms of acute frustration and, upon taking his departure, cautioned that his statements were to be treated as "off the record. " SECRET Approved for Release: 2018/10/01 C06626795