Declassified Documents About Human Rights Abuses During Military Dictatorship in Argentina Released

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President Jimmy Carter prepares to sign the American Convention on Human Rights at the Pan American Building in Washington, DC, on June 1, 1977.
President Jimmy Carter prepares to sign the American Convention on Human Rights at the Pan American Building in Washington, DC, on June 1, 1977.

Declassified Documents About Human Rights Abuses During Military Dictatorship in Argentina Released

Today, the U.S. Department of State is releasing 931 declassified documents, totaling approximately 3,300 pages, about human rights abuses during the 1976‒1983 military dictatorship in Argentina. These documents were hand-delivered to current President of Argentina, Mauricio Macri, today by President Trump as another demonstration of the importance the United States places on its bilateral relations with Argentina. The Department releases these documents in response to the request of the Government of Argentina and in support of the President’s commitment to declassify U.S. Government documents about human rights abuses committed during Argentina’s dictatorship.

This release comes in two parts. The first is a re-review of 813 documents previously withheld in part or in full from a release carried out by the Department of State in 2002. You can read the entire collection, including documents newly released today here. The Department conducted a re-review of previously denied and redacted documents to determine if additional information was releasable and coordinated the review with the Intelligence Community and other Executive Branch agencies. With the passage of time and with interagency coordination, the State Department determined that the majority of the redacted documents were releasable either in their entirety or with fewer redactions.

The second part of the release is 119 high-level documents selected for inclusion in two chapters of a forthcoming Foreign Relations of the United States volume on South America, 1977‒1980. You can read these documents here. These documents include minutes of discussions between President Jimmy Carter and foreign leaders, memoranda about deliberations inside the National Security Council and the U.S. Department of State, cables from U.S. embassies abroad, and intelligence analyses. Those two chapters, on Argentina and the Latin American Region, will be formally published later this year with full annotation on the Office of the Historian’s public website, history.state.gov. The complete Foreign Relations volume on South America, 1977‒1980, including the remaining nine chapters, will be published in early 2018. This volume will be one of 32 Foreign Relations volumes documenting the foreign policy of the Jimmy Carter presidential administration.

The release of these documents represents an ongoing U.S. commitment to the rule of law and support for human rights. This release builds on two previous releases, in August and December 2016, undertaken by the ongoing interagency Argentina Declassification Project. Due to the breadth of the search undertaken in U.S. Government documents as part of that Project, there is some overlap between documents released earlier and those released today. Executive Branch agencies are in the final stages of completing comprehensive searches of their archives. More documents, including those from intelligence, military, and law enforcement agencies, will be released to the public at the end of 2017.

About the Authors: Sara Berndt serves as a Historian in the Bureau of Public Affairs' Office of the Historian and Keri Lewis serves as a Foreign Service Officer in the Bureau of Administration's Office of Information Programs and Services.

Editor's Note: This entry is also published on Medium.com/StateDept.

Sara Berndt
Keri Lewis