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 (…)