24, 1976 - The Argentine military takes power in a coup
d'etat, overthrowing the government of Isabel Perón.
30, 1976 - American citizen Gwenda Loken Lopez is captured
and savagely tortured by Argentine security forces. She is finally
freed in October after nearly six months of captivity..
5-7, 1976 - American citizen Mercedes Naveiro Bender
is kidnapped and tortured by Argentine security forces. Naveiro
witnesses the torture of scores of others while in detention.
20, 1976 - The bodies of former Uruguayan legislators
Zelmar Michelini and Hector Gutierrez Ruiz are found in Buenos Aires.
U.S. agencies suspect and subsequently come to believe that Michelini
and Gutierrez Ruiz - who were vocal critics of the military regime
in Uruguay - were murdered in a coordinated operation involving
Uruguayan and Argentine security forces.
21, 1976 -Argentina's presidential secretary, Ricardo
Yofre, tells U.S. Ambassador Robert Hill that Argentina is involved
in "an all-out war against subversion. In the heat of the battle
there will inevitably be some violations of human rights" Yofre
also "warned that the government plans to drastically step
up its campaign against the terrorists very shortly."
24-27, 1976 - American citizen Elida Messina, coordinator
of the Argentina chapter of the Fulbright Commission, is kidnapped
and tortured by Argentine security forces.
25, 1976 - While visiting Argentina, the United Nations
High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative informs U.S.
Ambassador Robert Hill that "the GOA was irritated by international
pressure on refugees and wanted to proceed to deal with them with
as free a hand as possible."
28, 1976 - Ambassador Hill presents a human rights
demarche to Argentine Foreign Minister Admiral Cesar Augusto Guzzetti
regarding the forces that "murdered
Michelini, Gutierrez Ruiz and dozens of others and have just kidnapped
a member of Fulbright Commission, Miss Elida Messina."
Reporting on Guzzetti's reaction to the demarche, Hill writes "I
did not have the impression he really got the point."
1976 - In the context of a coordination known
as operation "Condor" intelligence representatives from Argentina,
Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay decide, at a meeting
in Santiago, to set up a computerized intelligence data bank and agree to establish an international
communications network. Uruguayan, Chilean, and Argentine intelligence
representatives agree to expand to Europe their coordination to
3, 1976 -The corpse of Juan José Torres, former
Bolivian president, is found in Buenos Aires. U.S. agencies suspect
Torres was killed by Argentine security forces.
7, 1976 - In response to a Department of State query
pertaining to coordination among Southern Cone military regimes
to hit political refugees, Ambassador Hill informs the State Department
that, although there is no firm evidence, "there is considerable
circumstantial evidence" that the killings of the Uruguayans
and Bolivian political refugees were carried out by Argentine security
forces. In a similar cable to the Department of State that day,
U.S. Ambassador to Chile David Popper reports, "We assume (1)
that Armed forces and intelligence services of all these countries
cooperate to some extent, (2) That all these governments are capable
of covert killing."
9, 1976 - According to a U.S. Embassy report, "Ten
armed men broke into the offices of the Argentine Catholic Commission
on Immigration … and ransacked safes and files, stealing most
of the records on the many thousands of refugees and immigrants
handled through the commission in the past 20 years… [T]he
implications are enormous, particularly following the recent violent
deaths of prominent political exiles from neighboring countries…
UNHCR contacts are worried about dangers to those whose names figured
in the stolen documents, which include index cards with names and
addresses and confidential letters requesting assistance."
am, June 10, 1976 - Early this morning, as the Secretary
of State prepares to meet Guzzetti in Santiago, Chile, Deputy Secretary
of State Charles Robinson sends a cable from Washington informing
Secretary Kissinger that, "There is no evidence available suggesting
the existence of a conspiracy among the governments of the Southern
Cone to track down and [kill] prominent asylees resident in those
the cable continues, "[a]gainst the backdrop of these political
murders, the UNHCR representative in Buenos Aires has provided the
embassy with disturbing reports about the inhospitable atmosphere
for many foreign political exiles living in Argentina… Their
total is estimated by UNHCR at 15,000, 10,000 of whom are Chilean
and most of the balance Uruguayan. UNHCR estimates that about 1,000
of the Chilean exile and 300-400 of the others could be considered
to be in danger from Argentine security forces or rightist extremists,
either from Argentina or from their native countries… If the
abuses continue or spread without a firm and unequivocal response
from the junta, we can expect our efforts to maintain coherent relations
with the new government in Argentina to become much more complicated,
if not frustrated altogether. Robinson"
am, June 10, 1976 - Secretary of State Kissinger meets
early in the day with the Argentine foreign minister, Admiral Guzzetti,
for over one hour. The U.S. participants included Under Secretary
for Economic Affairs [and just previously Assistant Secretary for
Inter-American Affairs] William Rogers, Under Secretary for International
and Security Affairs Carlyle E. Maw, and Luigi R. Einaudi as note
taker. On the Argentine side, Guzzetti was accompanied by Ambassador
Pereyra [the senior civilian within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,
as Director General of International Policy] and Argentina's Ambassador
to the OAS and renowned diplomat Julio Cesar Carasales.
the Memorandum of Conversation for this meeting was misdated June
6, 1976. The meeting took place during the morning of June 10, 1976,
when Kissinger met with several foreign dignitaries attending the
OAS General Assembly in Santiago. That afternoon he traveled to
Mexico City. See Secretary Kissinger's travels at the State Department
historian's web page and the Secretary's calendar of events for
encounter is cordial and the Secretary never raises the issues of
torture and disappearances in Argentina, nor the Americans endangered
there. The Memorandum of Conversation shows that after a series
of pleasantries, Guzzetti opens the substantial part of the meeting
by stating: "Our main problem in Argentina is terrorism. It
is the first priority of the current government that took office
on March 24."
closing, Secretary Kissinger says, "If there are things that
have to be done, you should do them quickly. But you must get back
quickly to normal procedures."
11-12, 1976 - Twenty-four Chileans and Uruguayans are
kidnapped and tortured by Argentine security forces. The U.S. Embassy
later reports, "conclusion almost inescapable that GOA security
forces either directly responsible or at least tolerating extra-official
actions… [The Kidnapping] following the theft of refugee documents
from Catholic Commission on Immigration June 9 (Ref C) has reportedly
spread terror among thousands of refugees in Argentina."
14, 1976 - In a seemingly futile effort, Deputy Chief
of Mission to Argentina Maxwell Chaplin meets Ambassador Pereyra
under formal instructions from the State Department to express concern
about the recent kidnapping of Uruguayan and Chilean refugees in
response was an impassioned, almost fanatic defense of GOA. With
regard to substance of the issue, Pereyra contended that GOA was
doing best it could in an all-out war with extremists; that it was
not possible to prevent occasional excesses by embattled security
he reached the topic of the UNHCR, Pereyra's indignation was barely
a review of events at the OAS General Assembly, Pereyra expressed
satisfaction over his conclusion that Secretary Kissinger was realistic
and understood the GOA problems on human rights."
17, 1976 - Returning with instructions from Washington,
Ambassador Hill has his human rights pleas rebuffed by Foreign Minister
Foreign Minister said that GOA had been somewhat surprised by indications
of such strong concern on the part of the USG in human rights situation
in Argentina. When he had seen SECY of State Kissinger in Santiago,
the latter had said he 'hoped the Argentine Govt could get the terrorist
problem under control as quickly as possible.' Guzzetti said that
he had reported this to President Videla and to the cabinet, and
that their impression had been that the USG's overriding concern
was not human rights but rather that GOA "get it over quickly."
21, 1976 - Ambassador Hill's human rights message is
also rejected by Argentine Junta President Jorge Rafael Videla:
said he had been gratified when FONMIN Guzzetti reported to him
that Secretary of State Kissinger understood their problem and had
said he hoped they could get terrorism under control as quickly
as possible. Videla said he had the impression senior officers of
the USG understood situation his govt faces but junior bureaucrats