Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Demonstrators in Buenos Aires in 2010 marking the lives of those lost during Argentina's Dirty War.   (Photo: David Bacon/flickr/cc)

Skip Your Visit to Argentina, Nobel Laureate Tells Obama

Date of scheduled visit marks 40th anniversary of US-backed coup

Andrea Germanos

The 1980 Nobel Peace Prize laureate has urged President Barack Obama to reschedule his planned visit to Argentina, saying the date marks the anniversary of a U.S. backed coup that ushered in an era of "persecution, torture, death, and disappearances."

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, born in Buenos Aires in 1931, won the prize for years of human rights activism in the face of state repression.

The problem isn't the visit in and of itself, Esquivel told the Associated Press, but rather the date of Obama's visit.

On March 24, 1976, a military coup, with U.S. backing, ousted President Isabel Peron. From then until 1983, the regime's Dirty War left some 30,000 people suspected as being leftists "disappeared." The day is now celebrated in the country as a national Day of Memory for Truth and Justice.

"I'm a survivor of that era, of the flights of death, of the torture, of the prisons, of the exiles," Esquivel told AP. "And when you analyze the situation in depth, the United States was responsible for the coups in Latin America."

As Kevin Young previously wrote at NACLA:

Argentina’s military regime murdered, tortured, and raped tens of thousands of people, mainly leftists, who criticized government policy. During the height of the repression, the U.S. government gave the junta over $35 million in military aid and sold it another $43 million in military supplies. It was well aware of the state terror it was supporting. Three months after the 1976 coup, U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger privately told Argentine Foreign Minister César Guzzetti that, “we have followed events in Argentina closely” and “wish the new government well. We wish it will succeed . . . If there are things that have to be done, you should do them quickly.”

Esquivel outlined his concerns in a letter to Obama, which was sent to media Thursday. Esquivel writes:

In 1976, when you were just 14 years old and your country was celebrating two centuries of independence, we began the most tragic period in our history, with the establishment of state terrorism that subjected our people to persecution, torture, death, and disappearances to rob them of their freedom, independence, and sovereignty.

Esquivel's call echoes that of Argentine human rights group Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

Obama's visit March 24 would "only bring back the most haunting memories," said Nora Cortiñas, a founding member of the group, last month.

"It would be an affront to the people who have worked against impunity," she told Argentine state news agency Télam.

"It is known that the U.S. had and always has participation in the Southern Cone and in other countries with the the most sinister dictatorships we suffered in the 1970s, organizing, financing, and supporting the military coups," she added.

Esquivel's letter adds that if Obama acknowledged such actions by the U.S., and submitted itself to the International Criminal Court, his visit would be welcome.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Thích Nhất Hạnh Dead at 95

"He inspired so many good people to dedicate themselves to working for a more just and compassionate world."

Jessica Corbett ·


Draft Order Shows Trump Considered Using Military to Seize Voting Machines

"This was part of the records that Trump was fighting to keep from the January 6th committee," one government watchdog noted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Groups Warn US Lawmakers Against Fueling 'New Cold War' With China

A policy of hostility toward Beijing, says a global justice advocate, has "become a convenient excuse for pushing a corporate, militarist agenda."

Jessica Corbett ·


Democracy 'On the Line' Says Bowman After Protest Arrest

"I will not stand by and I will not stay quiet while the fate of our democracy continues to hang loosely by a thread that the Senate is hellbent on tearing apart."

Julia Conley ·


To 'Hold Her Accountable for What She Did,' Primary Sinema Project Gets Into Gear

"Kyrsten Sinema is unfit to be a United States senator," the project asserts. "Just like the filibuster itself, we need to get rid of her if we want to save our democracy before it's too late."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo