WASHINGTON - Thousands of previously classified documents on Argentina's "dirty
war" against political opponents were released by the US State Department
Tuesday, providing new evidence against former military dictator Leopoldo Galtieri.
"The State Department ... deserves credit for this historic release, which
demonstrates again that openness serves our national security interests in democracy
and human rights," said Thomas Blanton, director of George Washington University's
National Security Archive,
which compiles recently declassified government documents.
The 4,600 files document human rights violations in Argentina under that nation's military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.
In 1976, Galtieri launched a major counterinsurgency campaign. By the end of that year, thousands were illegally detained, tortured, assassinated or disappeared, among them half a dozen American citizens.
The US embassy began documenting the violations in 1977" the files released Tuesday provide evidence of more than 10,000 human rights violations in Argentina.
"The documents provide clues to the fate of 'disappeared' citizens in Argentina by an unchecked security apparatus, and tell the story of a massive and indiscriminate counterinsurgency campaign carried out by the military dictatorship targeting real or imagined subversives," said Carlos Osorio, director of the National Security Archive's Argentina Documentation Project.
"They are a clear contribution to families seeking information about their missing relatives and to judges seeking to make the military accountable for past abuses."
Last month Argentine Judge Claudio Bonadio charged Galtieri and 30 other military officers for the the 1980 abduction of 20 members of the armed leftist Montoneros movement.
The declassification of the documents was made all the more urgent by Galtieri's pending trial, said Victor Abramovich, director of the Centro de Estudios Legales y Socials, an Argentine nongovernmental organization that will be working with the university archive.
"The documents will help clarify this case of great public importance, as well as the whole period of military rule," Abramovich said.
The release comes two years after former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright promised an association of families of those who disappeared she would work to give them what information she could to help them locate their loved ones.
"This release proves once again that long secret US documents constitute a powerful historical and judicial tool to redress the atrocities of the past in Latin America," said the archive's senior analyst, Peter Kornbluh, who also called on the CIA and other US intelligence agencies to follow the State Department's example.
© 2002 AFP