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Wed Mar 24, 2021, 04:32 AM

Argentina's Military Coup of 1976: What the U.S. Knew



Published: Mar 23, 2021
Briefing Book #751
Edited by Carlos Osorio

U.S. had ample forewarning of coup plotting, documents show

Officials maintained channel of communications with plotters

Ford Administration knew Argentine military planned to commit human rights violations

U.S. Ambassador aborted pre-coup visit by a former CIA deputy director


Washington, D.C., March 23, 2021 - On the eve of the 45th anniversary of the military coup in Argentina, the National Security Archive is today posting declassified documents revealing what the U.S. government knew, and when it knew it, in the weeks preceding the March 24, 1976, overthrow of Isabel Peron’s government. The documents provide evidence of multiple contacts between the coup plotters and U.S. officials. “[Admiral] Massera sought opportunity to speak privately with me,” U.S. Ambassador to Argentina Robert Hill reported in a cable sent one week before the putsch after meeting with a leading coup plotter. “[H]e said that it was no secret that military might have to step into political vacuum very soon.”

The documents posted today record the U.S. government knowledge of the plotters, their preparations for the coup, and their potential plans for what State Department officials described as “military rule for an extended duration and of unprecedented severity.” They show that the U.S. “discreetly” advised the military more than a month before the actual coup that Washington would recognize the new regime.

In the first substantive report to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger on a “Possible Coup in Argentina,” in mid-February 1976, Assistant Secretary of State William Rogers flagged the likelihood of human rights violations after a military takeover. “We would expect [the military government] to be friendly toward the United States,” he apprised Kissinger. “However, in stepping up the fight against the guerrillas, an Argentine military government would be almost certain to engage in human rights violations such as to engender international criticism. This could lead to U.S. public and Congressional pressures which would complicate our relations with the new regime.” Anticipating problems with the United States over the repression against subversion they would implement, the Argentine “military planning group” approached officials in their own foreign ministry to advise “as to how the future military govt can avoid or minimize the sort of problems the Chilean and Uruguayan govts were having with the U.S. over [the] human rights issue.”

Perhaps to discuss that very issue, the documents show that the Argentine military sought to meet with Kissinger in advance of the coup—an idea discouraged by Ambassador Hill. On February 13, 1976, Hill met with an Argentine-born U.S. businessman named “Mr. Carnicero” who informed him that “several high-ranking military officers have asked him to arrange a meeting between an appropriate military representative and Secretary Kissinger” so that they could explain why they needed to take power and seek assurances of prompt recognition. The ambassador rejected that idea on the grounds that “Such a meeting, should it become public knowledge, could be misinterpreted to the detriment of the officers themselves as well as of Secretary Kissinger.” In a revealing passage, Hill reminded the emissary that “the embassy has discreetly and through third parties already indicated to the military that the USG will recognize a new government in Argentina….”

More:
https://nsarchive.gwu.edu/briefing-book/southern-cone/2021-03-23/argentinas-military-coup-what-us-knew?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=9fcb5efb-937e-4c13-9e3a-90897fe629e7

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Reply Argentina's Military Coup of 1976: What the U.S. Knew (Original post)
Judi Lynn Mar 2021 OP
malaise Mar 2021 #1
kairos12 Mar 2021 #2
ArizonaLib Mar 2021 #3
peppertree Mar 2021 #4

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Mar 24, 2021, 06:58 AM

1. K & R for truth

The US was involved in every RW coup in our hemisphere

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Wed Mar 24, 2021, 07:27 AM

2. The beginning of "The Dirty War."

Such a tragedy.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Fri Mar 26, 2021, 05:18 AM

3. Kissinger

Friend of the devil.

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Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sat Mar 27, 2021, 03:20 PM

4. To be fair to Kissinger and the rest, Mrs. Peron's overthrow was a surprise to almost no one

Isabel Perón never wanted to be president.

She was nominated in the 1973 convention as running mate to her husband - populist leader Juan Perón, who was ill - after the various Peronist factions (ranging from far-left to far-right) could agree on no one else.

And practically from the minute she was sworn in (July 1, 1974), people began placing mental bets on how long she would last before a coup: there had, after all, already been 5 in Argentina since 1930.

Aware of this risk, Mrs. Perón was quick to adopt a law-and-order, hard-line stance against mounting far-left violence.

Very hard-line: Besides tacitly approving attacks by the Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance, she granted the military nearly every one of their unconstitutional demands - including martial law, which she declared just 5 months after taking office.

She thought that by doing so, a coup - and the resulting bloodbath (the Dirty War) - could still be avoided. She believed an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and that she was saving lives.

What she did not know is that a coup had been discussed by the top brass for months - and that by October 1975, it was approved (the joint chiefs called it 'Operation Aries' - scheduled for March 24th as it was).

This footage is from the day (October 15) the coup was green-lighted, when she returned from a month-long leave of absence.



Had she instead resigned - as she had been urged by even her allies - the coup might have been averted; Senate President Ítalo Lúder, the man many were counting on to take over, is the tall, white-haired man in the tan suit ↑

She was later deposed at that very spot, a small base at Newbery Airport (Buenos Aires) where the presidential plane was kept.

Thanks as always for your time and thoughts, Judi. Have a very good weekend.

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