Obama to release secret Argentina files, pay homage to military regime victims

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  March 24, 2016 at 8:58 AM
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BUENOS AIRES, March 24 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama on Thursday will pay homage to the victims of the military regime in Argentina that seized power with initial support from the United States.

Obama also said he will release secret files concerning the United States' role that led to Argentina's infamous "Dirty War" beginning with a military coup d'etat in March 24, 1976, and ending in 1983.

"We are absolutely determined to do our part as Argentina continues to heal and move forward as one nation, and I hope this gesture also helps to rebuild trust that may have been lost between our two countries," Obama said Wednesday. "I will visit a memorial to the victims of the Argentine dictatorship."

Argentina's government estimates about 13,000 people were killed or "disappeared" -- a term for abducted and never heard from again -- during the military regime under Gen. Jorge Rafael Videla, who led the coup d'etat and was president until 1981. Independent groups estimate up to 30,00 people were victims of the regime.

Obama's visit to Argentina comes as the South American country commemorates the 40th anniversary of the military coup, which Argentine President Mauricio Macri described as "the darkest chapter in our history."

"Hours before we commemorate 40 years since the military coup, you, accepting our request, agreed to declassify the files. We are thankful for that gesture," Macri said on Wednesday. "We have the right to know the truth."

Some groups plan on holding protest over the U.S. governments support of the coup. Rafael Videla died while imprisoned on charges of human rights violations at the age of 87 in 2013.

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