Ahead of his visit to Argentina, the U.S. president will release military and intelligence records on U.S. involvement during the 1876-1983 dictatorship.
The United States government will declassify documents from U.S. military and intelligence agencies related to Argentina’s 1976-83 “Dirty War,” the seven-year period when a U.S.-backed military dictatorship cracked down on left-wing opponents, U.S. officials said Thursday.
The move coincides with President Barack Obama’s visit to Argentina next week on the 40th anniversary of the 1976 coup that installed the dictatorship.
More than 30,000 people were killed or disappeared during that brutal period. Argentina returned to democracy in 1983. The declassification effort will include records from U.S. law enforcement agencies, the Department of Defense, the Department of State and the presidential libraries at the National Archives. It follows the declassification in 2002 of more than 4,000 State Department cables and other documents related to human rights abuses from the 1976-83 period.
“President Obama, at the request of the Argentine government, will announce a comprehensive effort to declassify additional documents, including for the first time military and intelligence records,” U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice said in a speech hosted by the Atlantic Council in Washington. “On this anniversary and beyond, we’re determined to do our part as Argentina continues to heal and move forward as one nation,” she said.
On previous trips, Obama has failed to apologize to Latin American nation’s for CIA activities in the region during decades past. Argentina have welcomed the announcement. “Anything that helps analyze what happened during this chapter is a positive,” an Argentine government spokesperson told Reuters, declining to comment further
on a matter he said Obama and President Mauricio Macri would address.
Obama plans to visit Parque de la Memoria, or Memory Park, to honor the victims of that period. The U.S. president has been criticized by human rights activists and leading figures in Argentina over the timing of his visit as it coincides with the anniversary of the coup.
The right-wing Argentine president, Mauricio Macri, who took office in December 2015, has been eager to cozy up to the United States after years of fraught relations between the two countries under the leadership of the Kirchners.