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Obama’s Argentina visit stirs memories of ‘dirty war’

(London Post)  The US president has arrived in Argentina to start a visit aimed at rapprochement. It is expected he will seek to sweeten relations soured by US support for the former dictatorship’s “Dirty War” against dissidents.

US President Barack Obama and his family touched down in the early hours of Wednesday, to be welcomed by Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra.

Obama was set to hold talks later in the day with the country’s new market-friendly President Mauricio Macri, who has reached out to Washington after years of confrontation.

The US president was also due to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony to remember the US role in Argentina’s “Dirty War.” His visit coincides with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 military coup that saw the rise of a brutal dictatorship.

Kissinger ‘approval’ for crackdown

Notes from a 1970s meeting between then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Argentina’s then foreign minister appear to show Kissinger giving his approval for a crackdown of dissidents as part of Cold War efforts to stave off the perceived Communist threat.

Argentine activists holding photos of some of the disappearedThousands were detained during the dictatorship, never to be seen again

Obama last week month promised to declassify CIA and FBI documents related to the regime.

US military academies are said to have trained troops from Argentina, and other Latin American regimes, in torture techniques.

Left-wing political parties have promised protests in Buenos Aires and Bariloche, an Andean resort town in southern Argentina, where Obama is scheduled to spend part of Thursday. They claim that the presence of a US leader at the time of the anniversary is disrespectful to families of the thousands who were murdered or who were disappeared.

Macri seeks to liberalize economy

Argentina’s government estimates that some 13,000 people were killed or disappeared during the crackdown. Activists claim the figure was as high as 30,000.

US President Obama urges change in Cuba

Some leftist groups have vowed to protest the treatment of Argentina by US creditors – US hedge funds – who Macri’s predecessor Christina Fernandez Kirchner branded vultures. Macri – who took office in December – has now reached a deal with the creditors, also having lifted trade controls and slashed subsidiesduring his first 100 days in office.

While Fernandez frequently sought to portray the US as an imperialist bully throughout Latin America, Macri has said he wants to build an “intelligent, productive” relationship.

The US president’s visit comes after a series of historic but sometimes awkward public appearances between Obama and Cuba’s Communist leader Raul Castro.

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