Argentina rights group to ask Obama for dictatorship-era records

Members of the human rights organizations Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo and Madres de Plaza de Mayo, including Estela de Carlotto (2-R), wait to greet French President Francois Hollande (out of frame) in Costanera Norte, Buenos Aires, on February 25, 2016 (AFP Photo/Stephane De Sakutin) (AFP)
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  • Barack Obama
    Barack Obama
    44th president of the United States

Buenos Aires (AFP) - A prominent Argentinian rights activist said Thursday she would ask President Barack Obama to declassify US documents related to the country's dictatorship when he visits next month.

Obama is expected in Argentina on March 23-24, immediately following his historic trip to Cuba. The dates overlap with a mass protest marking the 40th anniversary of the coup that led to Argentina's 1976-1983 military dictatorship.

Several rights groups have called on Obama to apologize on behalf of his country for the United States' support of the military regime at the time.

Estela de Carlotto, head of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo rights group, said her group would welcome the chance to meet with Obama to make the declassification request in person.

"We want to ask him to declassify the archives... on everything relating to repression across Latin America and especially our country," de Carlotto said.

Military dictatorships across Latin America in the 1970s and 1980s collaborated in tracking down leftist opponents in a scheme known as the Operation Condor.

Some 30,000 people were killed or "disappeared" during Argentina's "dirty war" period. An estimated 500 babies were stolen by the regime, which abducted, tortured and killed opponents and their suspected sympathizers.

De Carlotto's group is attempting to find children stolen or illegally adopted during the dictatorship.

She believes that the US documents will shed light on those responsible for child kidnappings, and provide "a lot of information of historic value."

The prominent activist spoke to reporters at Remembrance Park, where she accompanied visiting French President Francois Hollande as he paid a tribute to dictatorship victims.

The site, located on the shores of the River Plate, is a memorial that includes the names of more than 9,000 dictatorship victims engraved on a sloping wall.

Twenty-two of the victims, including two nuns, were French citizens.

President Mauricio Macri on Tuesday met with leading rights groups to work out a common agenda during Obama's visit.

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