President Obama Thursday visited a memorial in Argentina to the thousands of people killed and disappeared during that country’s “dirty war,” on the 40th anniversary of the coup that started it.
Obama used his visit to announce his plan to declassify new military and intelligence records that document the human rights violations from 1976 to 1983.
“There’s been controversy about the policies of the United States early in those dark days,” Obama said, standing beside the Argentinian President Mauricio Macri. “The United States when it reflects on what happened here has to reflect on its own past…. When we’re slow to speak out on human rights, which was the case here.”
Obama said U.S. diplomats, human rights workers and reporters played an important role in documenting the abuses that took place in the aftermath. He extolled the likes of diplomat Tex Harris, who worked at the U.S. embassy in Buenos Aires during the administration of then-President Jimmy Carter to document human rights abuses and identify the disappeared. Such men did so despite threats to themselves and their families, Obama said.
The new records that will be declassified will be added to a trove of more than 4,000 documents already declassified compiled by U.S. diplomats and used in Argentina to prosecute those accused in the abuses, Obama said.