Ahead of US President Barack Obama’s historic visit to Argentina next week — which falls on March 24th, the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice commemorating the beginning of the last military dictatorship in Argentina — the editorial board of The New York Times has called on the US to declassify documents about the US’s involvement in that sordid period of Argentine history.
“When President Obama visits Argentina next week during the 40th anniversary of the coup, he should make a pledge that Washington will more fully reveal its role in a dark chapter of Argentine history,” the op-ed reads.
The article cites the 2002 declassification of roughly 4,700 US State Department records from the 1976-1983 period. “Those documents have aided judicial proceedings and added to a historical record. But much of that record remains obscured.”
“It is time for the American government to do what it still can to help bring the guilty to justice and give the victims’ families some of the answers they seek,” the piece concludes.
Obama’s visit to Argentina coincides with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 coup that brought Jorge Rafael Videla’s military junta to power, thereby marking the official commencement of a seven-year reign of state terror in Argentina in which an estimated 30,000 were disappeared for their perceived support of leftist ideals. It is now well known that the US provided military juntas not only in Argentina but in Chile, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Bolivia with tactical support under the Central Intelligence Agency’s Operation Condor. The operation was essentially a series of proxy wars all linked to the Cold War.
The timing of Obama’s visit has been rife with controversy, with many human rights leaders and organizations condemning the US head of state’s presence in the country on such a historically loaded day, especially in terms of US-Argentina bilateral relations.
Nobel Prize Winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, honored for his human rights work during and after the 1976-1983 dictatorship, for instance, wrote Obama an open letter asking he not come on the 24th because “the United States was responsible for the coups in Latin America,” he writes.
Likewise, the leader of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association, Hebe de Bonafini, has outright said that Obama’s presence “disgusts her” and has promised to carry out the traditional demonstrations that mark the day.
Taking a different bent, however, the leader of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto, has said she’d be willing to meet with Obama when he’s town. Just today, it was revealed that Obama hopes to honor the disappeared during his visit. Whether he will meet with Carlotto, visit Remembrance Park or take part in some other symbolic act remains unclear.
- Read more: Obama Said He’s ‘Interested’ In Visiting The Remembrance Park In Buenos Aires On March 24th
Carlotto’s organization endeavors to locate the children and grandchildren of people who were disappeared during the dictatorship. The fact that to this day, there remain Argentines unaware of their true origins because they were taken from their parents who were then disappeared is stark evidence of the country’s haunting past.