On 30th Anniversary of Argentine Coup: New Declassified Details

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On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the military coup in Argentina, the National Security Archive posted a series of declassified U.S. documents and, for the first time, secret documents from Southern Cone intelligence agencies, recording detailed evidence of atrocities committed by the military regime in Argentina.

The documents include a formerly secret transcript of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's first staff meeting after the coup during which he ordered the immediate support of the U.S. government for the new military regime. Told by his staff that there would be "a good deal of blood in Argentina before too long" and that Washington should delay embracing the new junta, according to the declassified transcript posted today, Kissinger stated: "I do want to encourage them. I don't want to give the sense that they're harassed by the United States."

The Archive also posted actual internal records from the infamous Argentina intelligence unit, Battalion 601, as well as a document from the Chilean secret police agency, known as DINA, which was secretly collaborating with the military in Buenos Aires and which provided an internal military account of the number of dead and disappeared at the hands of the Argentine security forces.

The DINA document, based on secret body count lists put together by Battalion 601, put the number at 22,000 people between 1975 and mid 1978. Other Argentine and declassified U.S. documents illuminated the repression of "Operation Condor" -- a collaborative effort among the Southern Cone secret police services to track down and eliminate opponents of their regimes in the mid and late 1970s. Several documents highlight the case of an Uruguayan couple who were disappeared in September 1976, as part of a Condor operation to wipe out an Uruguayan resistance group known as OPR-33.

The Archive's posting on Argentina coincides with a decision made public today by the Argentine Defense Ministry to open its still secret archives to researchers and victims of repression during the eight year military dictatorship. Carlos Osorio, director of the National Security Archive's Argentina project, hailed the decision as "a major step toward accountability for the past" that would "help clarify massive human rights violations during the dictatorship." But Osorio urged that intelligence documents, such as the one from Battalion 601 included in this posting, be released as well. For this new policy of openness to succeed, according to Marcos Novaro who directs the Political History Project at the University of Buenos Aires, "it is important that the relevant archives of the State Intelligence Secretariat be included."

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