President Barack Obama visited a memorial to victims of Argentina's "dirty war" on Thursday, where he gave a speech that expressed regret for the role the US played in that country’s period of dictatorship and repression.
"The United States, when it reflects on what happened here, has to examine its own policies as well, and its own past," Obama said during the speech he delivered today at Parque de la Memoria, a monument honoring the tens of thousands of people who died during conflict in the 1970s and '80s, in which the Argentine military regime waged a campaign of repression, torture, and terror against its own people in an effort to crush a communist guerrilla movement.
Obama was, unsurprisingly, pretty vague on what role the US played in that conflict. So it's worth revisiting some declassified documents (he promised that the US would declassify more) from that era, which help show what happened: The US actively encouraged and supported Argentina's brutal junta, even going so far as to give it the green light to commit atrocities against its own people.
Forty years to the day before Obama's speech, on March 24, 1976, a group of right-wing military officers overthrew Argentina's democratically elected government and installed a military junta led by General Jorge Videla.
Within days of the coup, then-US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and his staff discussed how they could organize "a sensible program of international assistance" for the new regime even though, a Kissinger adviser warned, they should "expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina." To Kissinger, however, supporting the junta was a necessary evil — a way to counter the spread of communism in Latin America.
Only months after the coup, with the expected repression — including executions, forced disappearances, and torture — well underway, Kissinger met with Argentina's foreign minister, Admiral César Augusto Guzzetti, to express support for the new government.
"We have followed events in Argentina closely," Kissinger told Guzzetti. "We wish the new government well. We wish it will succeed. We will do what we can to help it succeed."
Kissinger, as part of this, gave Guzzetti tacit support for atrocities the government planned to carry out in its war on "terrorists" — a term the military regime used to describe not only actual Marxist guerrillas but also anyone suspected of supporting them or having leftist sympathies.
To be clear, the regime was, by that point, already killing people, already torturing people, and already forcibly disappearing those whom it believed to be subversives. Kissinger was aware of this, and indeed, the US ambassador to Argentina, Robert Hill, had been putting pressure on the regime to halt its human rights abuses. But when Kissinger met with Guzzetti, his message was the opposite of Hill's.
"If there are things that have to be done," he told Guzzetti, "you should do them quickly. But you should get back quickly to normal procedures."
In other words, the US secretary of state sat down with the representative of a military government that had just stolen power in a coup d'état and told him that if he and his compatriots planned to commit mass atrocities against their own people, they should get right down to it without delay.
A later State Department memo, released by journalist Martin Edwin Andersen, reveals that the junta received that message clearly: They interpreted Kissinger's statement as a "green light" for their campaign of terror against their own people.
The US knew the junta planned on "killing priests and nuns and others"
Within weeks of the meeting, Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs Harry Shlaudeman briefed Kissinger that Argentine security forces were "totally out of control" and committing "daily waves of murders."
To be continued here .. http://www.vox.com/2016/3/28/1131790...tina-dirty-war
Obama apologised to Argentina for what Kissinger did
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