Obama visits Argentina 'Dirty War' memorial

Mar 25, 2016, 4:04 AM EDT
U.S. President Barack Obama and his family arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
(Source: Prairie View Grad/flickr)

President Barack Obama has visited a memorial for the victims of Argentina's military dictatorship, on the final day of his visit to the country.

The BBC reports:

He promised to release more secret military and intelligence files from the era, revealing the US government's role in the 1976 coup. The US was "too slow to stand up for human rights" in Argentina, he said. Some 30,000 people are estimated to have been killed during the six years of military government. Thousands of other people were illegally detained and tortured in what became known as the "Dirty War". General Jorge Rafael Videla, who led the coup, died in jail in 2013, serving a sentence for human rights violations.

Reuters writes:

Obama described the 1976-1983 dictatorship, during which the Argentine security forces killed up to 30,000 people, as a "dark period" in Argentina's history. But he has stopped short of apologizing for the United States' early support for the generals. He promised on Wednesday to declassify military and intelligence records related to the dictatorship-era, a time when Cold War thinking often put Washington behind right-wing governments in Latin America. Obama will visit a memorial park during his second day in the country. The president said the symbolic stop was meant “to make sure that we acknowledge the incredible heroism and courage of those who stood up against these human rights violations.” Many Argentines welcome both gestures. "Obama is not going to say outright 'forgive us', but he's saying it through his actions," said Daniel Slutzky, a 75-year-old college professor. Obama's visit to Argentina is a show of support for President Mauricio Macri's sharp u-turn away from the nationalist policies of his predecessor, Cristina Fernandez, who frequently railed against the United States and picked a fight with U.S. bondholders.