Daily Archives: March 30, 2006

Not Just Republicans

Turning a blind eye to human rights abuses: it’s not just for Republican presidents.

I want to clarify something, stemming from the earlier post, about Argentina and the Junta and President Reagan. I single out President Reagan because it was during his administration that I became aware of these things, when I got to the University of Minnesota and met great MPIRG activists and joined the cause. My focus then was more directly on nuclear freeze issues, but on the Peace Task Force we also dealt with the then current issues in Central America, specifically El Salvador and Nicaragua. And there especially is where I take President Reagan to task.

But the coup in Argentina was earlier and, like the coup in Chile, goes back to Presidents Ford and Nixon and, even more specifically and ominously, to Henry Kissinger.

But, but, but. But there also in the late seventies was President Carter. And many, many of the FOIA documents, found on the National Security Archive website of George Washington University, are from his administration. Like see here, an internal memo of the American Embassy in Buenos Aires, where a security officer writes to the American ambassador, only ten days after Azucena Villaflor has been disappeared, when she maybe was still alive, conjecturing, correctly as it turns out, that she and the other mothers were likely abducted by the Argentine Navy. Again, though, I was 12 years old and wasn’t aware of these things at the time (although these documents weren’t declassified until decades later, so not many folks were then). And but furthermore, in his defense, I do remember President Carter getting a whole lot of flak for his stance on human rights, and the observance thereof being a basic tenet of U.S. foreign policy, whereas then and later Reagan and the right were only ever concerned about abuses in the Soviet Bloc and their allies.

But the narrow point here is, yes, the coup in Argentina was very much before Reagan. I understand that.