International House of Dan: National Day of Memory: Argentina

Friday, March 24, 2006

National Day of Memory: Argentina

Argentina came to a halt today to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the 1976 coup that lead to the disappearance of 30,000 people. The assault launched against the people of Argentina in the seven years that followed took place with the knowledge and acquiescence of U.S. Government officials. Document declassification in recent years has exposed the ugly political calculations made by officials such as Henry Kissinger in deciding how to balance their hatred of the left with mounting public criticism of the "dirty war" in Argentina. Kissinger hoped the government extermination of leftist elements could be completed before the U.S. Congress returned to session so that the administration could avoid having to reduce aid to Argentina as required by the Harkin Amendment to the FAA.

The occasion is important for far too many reasons to enumerate, as the horrors of the period continue to be felt not only by survivors and their families, but also by some in a separate category of victim: those estimated 500 young adults who learn that their biological parents were murdered so that they could be raised from birth by pro-military families. The occasion is important because of the lessons it teaches us about the present, about government reactions to terrorism, and about the importance of remaining attentive to the protection of human rights.

As I have often noted on this page, the military coup in Argentina rested its legal justification on the 1975 Decree 261/51, an authorization to use any and all necessary means to end the activities of subversive elements throughout the country. It is frighteningly similar to the justification being rested on by the Bush administration when it defends it's illegal wire tapping program, purportedly to end the activities of terrorist elements throughout the country. Let us remain vigilant against what the Kissingers of today might gloss over and tolerate in the name of placating a repressive government that is an "ally in the global war on terror."


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