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Obama pays homage to victims of Argentine dictatorship and admits “US was slow to speak out for human rights”

Thursday, March 24th 2016 - 19:34 UTC
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US “has to examine its own policies as well, and its own past,” said Obama.“We've been slow to speak out for human rights, and that was the case here.” US “has to examine its own policies as well, and its own past,” said Obama.“We've been slow to speak out for human rights, and that was the case here.”
Alongside president Macri, Obama tossed white roses into the River Plate in memory of those executed by the regime 1976/1983 Alongside president Macri, Obama tossed white roses into the River Plate in memory of those executed by the regime 1976/1983
“You are the ones who ensure that the past is remembered and the promise of 'nunca mas' is finally fulfilled.” “You are the ones who ensure that the past is remembered and the promise of 'nunca mas' is finally fulfilled.”
Obama's visit to Argentina coincided with the 40th anniversary of a right-wing military coup and dictatorship, which led to years of the so called “dirty war”. Obama's visit to Argentina coincided with the 40th anniversary of a right-wing military coup and dictatorship, which led to years of the so called “dirty war”.

President Barack Obama paid homage on Thursday to victims of Argentina's former US-backed dictatorship, admitting the United States was “slow to speak out for human rights” in those dark days. Obama became the first US president to formally acknowledge the victims of the 1976-1983 military regime, which declassified documents have revealed was supported by top US officials.

 
“There's been controversy about the policies of the United States early in those dark days,” Obama said in a speech at the Memory Park monument in Buenos Aires.

The United States “has to examine its own policies as well, and its own past,” he added. “We've been slow to speak out for human rights, and that was the case here.”

Alongside Argentina's President Mauricio Macri, Obama tossed white roses into the River Plate in memory of those executed by the regime, tortured to death, by shooting and by being hurled from airplanes into the water in so-called “death flights.”

Obama's visit to Argentina coincided with the 40th anniversary of a right-wing military coup which ushered in the dictatorship, and years of the so called “dirty war”.

Victims' groups had been angered by the choice of the date for Obama's visit, given the US support for the coup at the time. But they welcomed his promise to declassify further documents to shed more light on the fates of victims of the regime.

Paying tribute to victims' families, Obama reprised a historic phrase from the 1985 trial of Argentina's dictators, that “never again” (“nunca mas”) must dictators prevail.

“To those families, your relentlessness, your determination has made a difference. You've driven Argentina's remarkable efforts to hold responsible those who perpetrated these crimes,” he said.

“You are the ones who ensure that the past is remembered and the promise of 'nunca mas' is finally fulfilled.”

In 2002, Washington declassified 4,000 diplomatic cables which showed US officials, including then-secretary of state Henry Kissinger, encouraged the Argentine junta's purge of leftists.

In a strategic gesture, Obama agreed ahead of his visit to declassify other sensitive military and intelligence records linked to the “dirty war.”

They may shed more light on US involvement in “Operation Condor,” a plan among secret police agencies across the Southern Cone to target communists, leftists and dissidents.

“Prior US government releases have detailed human rights abuses and US policymaking in Chile, Guatemala, El Salvador,” said Carlos Osorio at the National Security Archive.

Macri had asked for the further documents to be released. “We all need and we are entitled to know what the truth is,” he said.

After the memorial ceremony the Obamas went to the airport to fly to the Patagonia resort town of Bariloche for a few hours' leisure time, before returning to Washington.

Top Comments

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  • Enrique Massot

    A welcome--albeit incomplete--acknowledgement of the U.S. president of his country's role in the methodical extermination of opponents and suspects by the civic-military junta that usurped the Argentine government 40 years ago.
    The U.S. were not “slow to react.” The declassification of documents recently promised will show active collaboration that took place long before the 1976 coup.
    The so-called “dirty war” was no such thing. By 1976, most guerrillas had been eliminated. The “war” was the kidnapping of unarmed people at their homes or workplaces, their captivity in clandestine places where they were tortured and kept in infra human conditions until their final “transfer” which in most cases meant death. This included a group of high school students who were petitioning for a reduction in their public transportation costs in what was called The Night of the Pencils.

    Mar 25th, 2016 - 12:51 am 0
  • Captain Poppy

    The blood is still and always be on the hands of Argentines.

    What did you do to try and stop it? Run to Canada?

    Your brother did that to your brother.....deal with it.

    Mar 25th, 2016 - 02:27 am 0
  • Liberato

    #2: In a mature democracy, it is imposible to think that a dictature can be imposed over the peoples will over a night. May be you should use the story of the Star War saga to have an idea of how a democracy can be quickly demolished.
    Or you can compare Guantamo, and all the secrets concentration camps in Europe where suspects of terrorism were kidnapped, tortured and killed, without the most basic juridical protection with our dictatorships concentration camps against what the junta called the “marxist terrorists”.

    You are right about one thing. The blood was and still is on the hands of argentines. And im proud that Argentina was the only nation to judge its own citizens for genocide, for state terrorism and the kidnapping of babies. Many of those militaries that participated in the dictature are imprisoned for life, Having as an example Jorge Rafael Videla, dead while in prison.

    Mar 25th, 2016 - 02:54 am 0
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