Newly-declassified documents reveal that former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger hampered efforts to stop mass killings of dissidents by Argentina’s 1976-83 military dictatorship.
The State Department files show that Kissinger’s close relationship to Argentina’s military dictatorship jeopardized attempts by the administration of Jimmy Carter to influence the brutal regime.
Kissinger hailed the military rulers for the country’s “campaign against terrorism,” which included the imprisonment, torture, and killings of tens of thousands of leftist activists and students.
Kissinger told a private meeting of the Argentinian Council of International Relations (CARI), a conservative diplomat group, at the time that “in his opinion the government of Argentina had done an outstanding job in wiping out terrorist forces.”
Even though Kissinger was no longer in office, US diplomats feared his praise for the junta’s crackdown would encourage more violence.
Kissinger even attended the 1978 World Cup in Argentina at the personal invitation of Jorge Videla, the general who oversaw the forced disappearance of up to 30,000 dissidents.
“There is some danger that Argentines may use Kissinger’s laudatory statements as justification for hardening their human rights stance,” US ambassador to Buenos Aires, Raúl Castro warned at the time, the files show.
Kissinger even held a private meeting with Videla without the presence of Castro, during which the two discussed the Carter administration’s foreign policy. “Videla prearranged it so Kissinger and the interpreter would meet with him privately half an hour before ambassador’s arrival,” one cable shows.
The documents were published as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is reportedly appealing to Kissinger and other Republican heavyweights for support.
During a visit to Argentina’s capital, Buenos Aires, in March, US President Barack Obama reiterated a pledge to declassify military and intelligence files about Washington’s role in the bloody military dictatorship.