Is Barack Obama popular in Argentina

Obama pays tribute to human rights defenders in Argentina

In Buenos Aires, US President Barack Obama commemorated the victims of the Argentine military dictatorship and paid tribute to the human rights activists' struggle for truth. "We were silent for too long," he said on the 40th anniversary of the military dictatorship's takeover.

During a visit to the “Parque de la Memoria” memorial on Thursday, Obama also remembered the collaboration between some scientists, diplomats and journalists from the USA with the Argentine human rights organizations. The Argentine military dictatorship lasted from 1976 to 1983.

The US President and his Argentine counterpart Mauricio Macri threw flowers into the La Plata River, on the bank of which the memorial was erected. The military had thrown many of their victims from airplanes into the water. The names of around 20,000 identified victims of state terror in Argentina are listed on the memorial walls of the "Parque de la Memoria".

"This is an honor to remember the victims, but also to the courage and perseverance of those who refused to give up the search for truth and justice," said Obama.

He especially mentioned the "Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo" (grandmothers of May Square), who for almost 40 years have been looking for kidnapped children of opposition activists who were given up for adoption by the military dictatorship under a false identity.

Jimmy Carter honored

Obama also honored the US forensic scientists who helped identify the remains of the victims and the State Department diplomats who collected data on human rights abuses in Argentina under the Jimmy Carter presidency (1977-81).

Carter understood the human rights issue for the first time as the cornerstone of US foreign policy. "This insight has influenced the attitude by which we try to act in the world."

The US President reiterated that he had ordered the release of classified military and intelligence documents about the Argentine military dictatorship in order to build a better future by dealing with the past.

The USA would also have to work up its relationship with the Argentine dictatorship. "We were too slow in defending human rights, that was the case in Argentina."

Contracts signed

With the award, the US President concluded the official program of his two-day visit to Argentina. He signed contracts with Macri in Buenos Aires to encourage US investment and remove mutual trade barriers.

Obama then flew with his family to take a short break in the Patagonian town of Bariloche before returning to the USA in the evening.