Mr. Barack Obama
We have learned of your historical visit to Cuba and Argentina to strengthen bonds of cooperation with the recently elected government.
We followed closely the positive advances that, through Pope Francisco, have led to open the doors of hope and dialogue between the people of Cuba and the United States. You well know it is a long road to achieve lifting the blockade and close the military base that your country maintains in Guantanamo, where human rights of the prisoners are violated, without the possibility of achieving freedom. We hope you can do it in spite of the strong opposition of Congress of your country.In a letter you sent me last year, in contrast to your predecessors, you have acknowledged that your country violates human rights and have mentioned your will to “end this chapter of the history of the United States”.
That is why it is important for you to know that you are coming to Argentina. In 1976, while you were 14 years old and your country celebrated two centuries of Independence we began the most tragic period of our history with the installation of state terrorism that submitted our people to persecution, torture, death and disappearances to erase the right to liberty, independence and sovereignty.
I write to you as a survivor of this horror that, like many more, were victims of persecution, jail and torture for defending their human rights against the Latin American dictatorships imposed by the Doctrine of National Security and “Operation Condor” financed, trained and coordinated by the United States. It was this collective battle that awarded me the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of the peoples of Latin America.
Meanwhile, the United States trained the Latin American Armed Forces in the School of the Americas (SOA) in techniques of torture and kidnappings. Here it promoted the local elites and neo liberal policies that destroyed the productive capacities of the country and imposed an illegal and illegitimate foreign debt. While acknowledging these actions we also recognized the solidarity of the people of the United States. Although exceptions were the former US president Jimmy Carter and the Secretary of Human Rights, Patricia Derian who denounced the actions of the dictatorship.
You will arrive in our country on the National Day of Memory for Truth and Justice, the same day that culminated 40 years of the last genocidal dictatorship of Argentina. It is also the 200th year of our national independence. Certainly you cannot ignore that your country has many pending debts with us and many others.
If your intention is to come here and acknowledge ,in the name of the United States of America, that your country backed the coups of the past and present in the region. By announcing that your country will sign and ratify the Rome Statute and submit to the International Court of Justice you will no longer be the only country in America that did not ratify the American Convention of Human Rights. It is good news that the “Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), will be closed as well as the “International Academy for Fulfillment of the Law” (ILEA), inherited from the School of the Americas. And that you will close the military bases the US has in Latin America. Then you will be welcomed any day in Argentina.
But, if you come intending to impose the Free Trade Treaty and to defend the privileges of transnational corporations that plunder the land of our peoples and mother earth. Or are you coming to support the illegitimate demands of the financial funds, the “Vulture Funds” as we call them here? Or is your intention to recommend the failed recipe of intervention by the Armed Forces in issues of internal security and with the excuse of fighting drug traffic and suppress popular movements? In that case we have no choice but to remember the words of the liberator Simón Bolívar who warned: “The United States seems destined by providence to plague Latin America and plunge in poverty in the name of liberty”.
The world power you represent has been behind all attempts at destabilizing popular governments in our continent, particularly Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Honduras and many others. Upon 200 years of our independence I feel obliged to inform you that we do not accept old or new colonialisms; we do not accept a new Washington Consensus that imposes reforms of hunger and exclusion. The Latin American peoples already defeated the imperial project of the FTTA and will again confront all new attempts to impose similar ones.
If your intention is not to announce these reparations or prevent new unfortunate suffering then your visit will be a warning to most of the Argentine people as a provocation against our national identity: the defense of human Rights and of the peoples.
Many of us have been surprised by you official communication that your visit is to acknowledge the contribution of Mauricio Macri in defense of Human Rights in the region. The first time that Macri defended publicly human rights was to mention another country in which he does not acknowledge political manipulation against Venezuela is a policy of Human Rights.
We expect that this alleged recognition is not a destabilizing offensive against the sister Bolivarian Republic.
In the meantime Venezuela recently passed the “Special Law to prevent and punish Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatments” increasing sentences to those who apply these practices.
In Argentina we are worried that in 2014 there were only 6 843 cases of torture in jails and now the president has said nothing, not one word. Not before or now.
I mention this because it is a concern of yours regarding your own country that has the largest number of prisoners in the world (one of every four prisoners are in North America) and also you know well that in these centers torture is applied routinely. As demonstrated in the complete report “Program for the Detention and Interrogations by the CIA” of the US Congress in 2014. We are urged to fight these practices throughout the world.
Peace depends on Justice. In reality we are committed to this road for those who are hungry and thirsty for Justice to guarantee full validity of the Rights of Persons and Peoples, of yesterday and today. This has granted Argentina the right to bring to court those who committed crimes against humanity.
For this reason it is important for you to know that on March 24 no president or personality can represent the Argentine people in all its diversity and represent itself with the slogans and peaceful demonstrations in all the streets and plazas of the country.
Clearly Pope Francisco declared in the Meeting of Social Movements in Bolivia: “The future of humanity is not only in the hands of great leaders, great power and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of the Peoples”.
That is why, if you don’t postpone your visit, you may hear what the Argentine people have to say to the world.
I again greet you with Peace and Wellbeing, wishing you strength and hope for the peoples.
Adolfo Pérez Esquivel