President Obama's visit to Argentina this week coincided with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 military coup that opened the country's "Dirty War," in which thousands of leftist dissidents were killed or "disappeared" during a seven-year dictatorship. Obama made note of the occassion, joining with Argentine President Mauricio Macri to visit the Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism at Remembrance Park in Buenos Aires. But the visit was boycotted and protested by some advocates of justice for the "Dirty War" victims. "We will not allow the power that orchestrated dictatorships in Latin America and oppresses people across the world to cleanse itself and use the memory of our 30,000 murdered compatriots to strengthen its imperialist agenda," said a statement by Myriam Bregman of the Center for Human Rights Professionals and other advocates. Nora Cortiñas of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo said: "I lament that Marci has accepted that the executive of the United States come during these days. It is inappropriate, a provocation."
But Obama won some applause from rights advocates by taking the occasion to pledge to open records that may point to US complicity in the Dirty War atrocities. "I'm launching a new effort to open up additional documents from that dark period," Obama told a joint press conference with Macri. "We previously declassified thousands of records from that era, but for the first time now, we will declassify military and intelligence records as well."
Carlos Osorio of the DC-based National Security Archive has already secured the release of documents that reveal Henry Kissinger's "green lighting" of the Dirty War. "In early 1976 through January 1977, Henry Kissinger took US policy into his hands," Osorio told National Public Radio. "And he was deliberately telling the [Argentine] military at every point through the year, 'We will support you.' " Osorio called Obama's pledge to release more documents "declassification diplomacy."
Released State Department documents have already revealed that in June 1976, then-Secretary of State Kissinger visited Chile, where he met with dictator Augusto Pinochet—then an ally of the White House and top promoter of Operation Condor, under which South America's military rulers coordinated to track and eliminate leftist dissidents. Two days later, Kissinger met with Adm. César Guzzetti, foreign minister of the Argentine dictatorship. "If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly," records indicate Kissinger told Guzzetti in the Santiago meeting. "But you should get back quickly to normal procedures." (Al Jazeera, March 24; Buenos Aires Herald, NPR, March 23; La Nación, Clarín, Argentina, March 22)