In Argentina, Obama Gives Speech That Cubans Deserved

Friday, March 25, 2016
Just three days ago in Havana, President Obama wined, dined and did "the wave" at a baseball game with the perpetrator of endless crimes against the Cuban people; asked us to bury the hatchet and forget the past; and to cut business deals with the Castro family and its military-owned monopolies.

Then, yesterday in Buenos Aires, President Obama condemned Argentina's former military junta; encouraged us never to forget the past and hold its perpetrators accountable; and lamented U.S. policies that supported that country's dictatorship.

It begs the questions:

Would Obama have promoted U.S. hotel deals with Argentina's military monopolies and General Videla's family, in the same way as he's doing today with Cuba's military monopolies and General Castro's family?

Would Obama have posed for a picture in front of the headquarters of the Argentine military dictatorship's SIDE or Triple A, as he did in front of Cuba's G-2 headquarters emblazoned with an image of Che?

Of course not.

We'd previously posted how Obama's Cuba speech paled in comparison to former President Jimmy Carter's, which was delivered at the University of Havana in 2002.

But instead compare Obama's Cuba speech to his own remarks two days later.

In Argentina, Obama demonstrated sympathy for the dictatorship's victims, singled out those who fought for freedom, and highlighted the key role that justice and accountability play in the process of healing and reconciliation.

In other words, he's practicing in Cuba the opposite of what he preached in Argentina.

It's the speech Cubans that deserved (even if delivered from the Memorial Cubano in Miami), but for whatever reason (e.g. ideological hypocrisy) were denied.

Read Obama's entire Argentina speech below: 

"It’s humbling to join President Macri at this poignant and beautiful memorial in honor of the victims of the Argentinian military dictatorship, and the suffering their families have endured.

This park is a tribute to their memory.  But it’s also a tribute to the bravery and tenacity of the parents, the spouses, siblings, and the children who love and remember them, and who refuse to give up until they get the truth and the justice they deserve.

To those families -- your relentlessness, your determination has made a difference. You’ve driven Argentina’s remarkable efforts to hold responsible those who perpetrated these crimes. You are the ones who will ensure that the past is remembered, and the promise of 'Nunca Más' is finally fulfilled. It takes courage for a society to address uncomfortable truths about the darker parts of its past. Confronting crimes committed by our own leaders, by our own people -- that can be divisive and frustrating. But it’s essential to moving forward; to building a peaceful and prosperous future in a country that respects the rights of all of its citizens.

Today, we also commemorate those who fought side-by-side with Argentinians for human rights. The scientists who answered the call from the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo to help identify victims in Argentina and around the world. The journalists, like Bob Cox, who bravely reported on human rights abuses despite threats to them and their families.  

The diplomats, like Tex Harris, who worked in the U.S. Embassy here to document human rights abuses and identify the disappeared. And like Patt Derian, the Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights for President Jimmy Carter -- a President who understood that human rights is a fundamental element of foreign policy. That understanding is something that has influenced the way we strive to conduct ourselves in the world ever since.  

There’s been controversy about the policies of the United States early in those dark days, and the United States, when it reflects on what happened here, has to examine its own policies as well, and its own past. Democracies have to have the courage to acknowledge when we don’t live up to the ideals that we stand for; when we’ve been slow to speak out for human rights. And that was the case here.

But because of the principles of Americans who served our government, our diplomats documented and described many instances of human rights violations. In 2002, as part of a two-year effort, the U.S. declassified and released thousands of those records, many of which were used as evidence to hold the perpetrators accountable.

Today, in response to a request from President Macri, and to continue helping the families of the victims find some of the truth and justice they deserve, I can announce that the United States government will declassify even more documents from that period, including, for the first time, military and intelligence records -- because I believe we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency.

A memorial like this speaks to the responsibilities that all of us have. We cannot forget the past. But when we find the courage to confront it, when we find the courage to change that past, that’s when we build a better future. That’s what the families of the victims have done. And the United States of America wants to continue to be a partner in your efforts. Because what happened here in Argentina is not unique to Argentina, and it's not confined to the past. Each of us have a responsibility each and every day to make sure that wherever we see injustice, wherever we see rule of law flouted, honest witnesses, that we're speaking out and that we're examining our own hearts and taking responsibility to make this a better place for our children and our grandchildren."