President Barack Obama is paying tribute to victims of Argentina’s “Dirty War” during a visit to Remembrance Park in Buenos Aires.
The visit coincides with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 coup that opened a period of military rule that continues to haunt Argentina. Millions are spent each year prosecuting perpetrators and scouring for the remains of the thousands of people who died or disappeared during that era.
Obama was using the visit to lay the groundwork for the U.S. to come clean about any involvement. He has announced plans to declassify additional U.S. documents, including military and intelligence records that have never been released.
President Barack Obama and Argentine President Mauricio Macri walked slowly together along the Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism at Remembrance Park. The monument, similar to the Vietnam War Memorial in the United States, contains the names and ages of 20,000 victims of Argentina’s “Dirty War” under the country’s former military leadership.
The leaders paused halfway down the wall as a guide pointed to the tiles featuring scores of names.
Both presidents walked to the edge of the waterfront along the Rio de la Plata and each one tossed a white wreath into the water.
Before departing, Obama and Macri paused briefly to gaze at a small statue rising from the water.
President Barack Obama says the United States was slow to speak out for human rights in Argentina during a dark period in that country’s history.
But he says his administration is trying to make amends by declassifying even more documents that could shed light on the U.S. role in what is known as Argentina’s “Dirty War.” Thousands of people died or went missing following a 1976 coup that opened a period of military rule.
Obama says what happened in Argentina isn’t unique to Argentina.
He says it takes courage for a society to address uncomfortable truths about its past, but that doing so is necessary to move forward.
Obama spoke after visiting Remembrance Park and its memorial to the victims.