President Obama faces criticism from 1980 Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel over his upcoming visit to Argentina on March 24.
The visit coincides with the anniversary of the 1976-1983 U.S. backed dictatorship, which remains a grim chapter in the South America nation’s history, Telesur reported.
Obama’s visit is scheduled on an Argentine public holiday known as the national Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice, in commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the atrocities committed during the military dictatorship.
The holiday commemorates the 30,000 victims whom either disappeared or were killed during the dictatorship and ‘dirty war’ supported by the United States.
Given the ‘green light’
Citing declassified U.S. State Department documents, some argue that oppressive U.S. backed military regimes flourished in Latin America during America’s Cold War with the Soviet Union. They allege that the U.S. former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, gave his generals the green light to implement ‘dirty war’ tactics in the name of preserving civil order.
According to the AP, Esquivel was awarded the Nobel Prize for his struggle to defend human rights under the Argentine dictatorship.
Esquivel told the AP, “I’m a survivor of that era, of the flights of death, of the torture, of the prisons, of the exile.”
“And when you analyze the situation in depth, the United States was responsible for the coups in Latin America,” Esquivel added.
Additionally, founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo and Argentine human rights activist, Hebe de Bonafini, who has successfully reunited over 100 displaced children with surviving family members, ardently condemned the timing of Obama’s Argentine visit.
“Let’s raise alarm bells, he did not invite him to visit on a regular date. He invited him to visit March 24 … (Macri) is a servant of theirs,” claimed Bonafini in reference to U.S. politicians.
The Mothers of Plaza de Mayo congregate at the Plaza de Mayo outside of the presidential palace every Thursday, although the group’s most recent protest was disrupted by authorities following the announcement by Security Minister Patricia Bullrich of a new zero tolerance policy for authorized demonstrations.
“The Plaza belongs to the people.”
Nora Cortiñas, a prominent figure in the founding line of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, told El Destape, “It hurts me that it is a provocation, a product of the arrogance of Macri wanting to show that the past is over, while we still don’t know what happened with our disappeared children and grandchildren.”
Cortiñas vowed to march in the Plaza de Mayo whether Obama follows through with his visit or not.
“No one is going to remove us from the Plaza … If they want to beat us, let them beat us. We didn’t let Macri have the Plaza on (his inauguration day) and we won’t let him have it now. He should forget about it. The Plaza belongs to the people,” she added.
De Bonafini claimed that President Macri invited President Obama on the exact date of the Argentine national holiday in order to impede upon the annual demonstrations.
De Bonafini has been accused of inciting violence against the Macri administration, and she bases her criticism of President Macri on the basis of his neoliberal agenda, consistently comparing him with the military dictatorship.
Obama plans his arrival in Argentina, following his trip to Cuba, on March 23, remaining in the country on March 24.
Noah Mamet, U.S. ambassador to Argentina, told reporters that Obama must arrive on the controversial date in order to coordinate the president’s Cuba visit on March 21-22, Fox News Latino reported.
Esquivel added, “I think it’s great (for Obama to come). The question is when and how.”
The U.S. Embassy has yet to release any comments on the matter.