U.S. President Barack Obama met Wednesday with Argentina’s new pro-market president, Mauricio Macri, in a sign of warming relations between the two countries.
President Obama arrived early Wednesday in Buenos Aires for a two-day visit, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of a coup supported by the United States.
Security was boosted in the capital following Tuesday’s terror attacks in Brussels, Belgium. Some subway lines were shut down, and streets were cordoned off near where Obama was to visit.
President Macri, who took office in December, has signaled he wants stronger economic ties with Washington and other free-market economies. Later Wednesday both leaders are expected to speak at a state dinner.
Obama’s visit coincides with Thursday’s 40th anniversary of the start of a brutal military dictatorship in Argentina that led to the death or disappearance of some 30,000 people. On Thursday, he plans to go to a park built in memory of those victims
Declassified U.S. documents indicate that the United States supported the military regime despite its human rights violations. The United States announced last week, at the behest of the Argentine government, that it will declassify even more military and intelligence documents linked to the period known in Argentina as the “Dirty War,” from 1976 to 1983.
Some critics of Obama’s visit have vowed to stage protests. In the past, critics have called on the U.S. to apologize for its support of the military regime.
After the announcement that documents would be declassified last week, White House aide Ben Rhodes said the president believes “moving forward in the Americas or any other part of the world involves a clear-eyed recognition of the past.”
The president’s trip to Argentina comes on the heels of a historic visit to Cuba, the first by a sitting U.S. president in almost nine decades. During his meeting with President Raul Castro, Obama called on the U.S. Congress to lift the decades-long trade embargo on Cuba.