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Obama Talks "Dirty War" Victims, Human Rights In Argentina

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) -- President Barack Obama acknowledged the United States did not do enough to push for human rights during Argentina's "Dirty War" dictatorship that left tens of thousands missing or dead.

The president visited el Parque de la Memoria in Buenos Aires, Argentina on Thursday - the 40th anniversary of the 1976 military coup which started the dictatorship that lasted until 1983. An estimated 30,000 people were killed or went missing under the Washington-backed dictatorship.

"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," said Obama.

With Argentine President Mauricio Macri by his side, the president went on, "Democracies have to have the courage to acknowledge when we don't live up to the ideas that we stand for, when we've been slow to speak up for human rights and that was the case here."

Click here to see pictures of President Obama's trip to Argentina. 

Both presidents paid tribute to the victims and toured the memorial on the banks of the River Plate.

Following his visit to the memorial, the president reiterated the U.S.'s commitment to partnering with the Latin American country - especially when it comes to preventing human rights violations.

"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 wants to continue to be a partner," said Obama.

Related: U.S., Argentina Agree To Strengthen Ties

The president left Buenos Aires and is heading to Bariloche for the day where the first family will visit cultural landmarks. From there, they will return to Buenos Aires in the evening before heading back to Washington, D.C.


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