Prominent human rights groups in Argentina boycotted US President Barack Obama’s visit on Thursday to a memorial for people who died during the South American nation’s 1976-1983 dictatorship. Obama and Argentine President Mauricio Macri visited the Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism at Remembrance Park in the capital Buenos Aires on the 40th anniversary of a coup that led to military rule and began a crackdown on left-wing dissidents.
Human rights groups claim they are not willing to forgive or forget the role the US played at the time, with one group of victims’ relatives labelling the timing of Obama’s visit a provocation.
“We will not allow the power that orchestrated dictatorships in Latin America and oppresses people across the world to cleanse itself and use the memory of our 30,000 murdered compatriots to strengthen its imperialist agenda,” the Buenos Aires-based Center for Human Rights Advocates said in a statement.
Argentina’s government estimates about 13,000 people were killed or disappeared during the crackdown on left-wing dissidents, though activists say the number is as high as 30,000. Nora Cortinas, of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo group, said that Obama “is a representative of death”, accusing the US of backing the junta that killed thousands of people. “What would victims say if they saw [us] hugging and paying homage to a president from a country responsible for state terrorism?” Cortinas said.