Obama honors victims of US-backed Argentina dictators
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – President Barack Obama paid homage Thursday, March 24, to victims of Argentina's former US-backed dictatorship, admitting the United States was "slow to speak out for human rights" in those dark days.
Obama became the first US president to formally acknowledge the victims of the 1976-1983 military regime, which declassified documents have revealed was supported by top US officials.
"There's been controversy about the policies of the United States early in those dark days, and the United States, when it reflects on what happened here, has to examine its own policies as well, and its own past," Obama said.
He spoke at Remembrance Park, a monument in Buenos Aires to the 30,000 people who were killed or went missing under the dictatorship. He paid tribute to victims' families.
"Democracies have to have the courage to acknowledge when we don't live up to the ideals that we stand for; when we've been slow to speak out for human rights. And that was the case here."
Tens of thousands of people joined a noisy demonstration later in Buenos Aires to mark the 40th anniversary of the US-backed coup that brought the dictators to power.
They marched to the din of drums, carrying pictures of the victims. Similar anniversary marches were called in towns across the country.
Some rights groups complained Obama had not gone far enough. (READ: From Cuba, history-laden trip takes Obama to Argentina)
"The self-criticism was totally light," said Taty Almeida, founder of the victims' campaign group Madres Linea Fundadora.
She added that Argentine President Mauricio Macri and Obama "insisted we have to look to the future. They do not acknowledge the genocide and state terrorism that was supported by the United States." – Rappler.com