Argentine Rights Record Revealed

Los Angeles Clippers interim coach Dennis Johnson gives out intructions during the second quarter against the New Orleans Hornets, Monday, March 3, 2003, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Dennis Johnson, the star NBA guard who was part of three championship teams, died Thursday at 52.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is ordering the declassification of documents relating to human rights violations committed in Argentina during the 1976-83 military dictatorship, the State Department said Friday.

Spokesman Charles Hunter said Albright acted in response to requests from Argentine and Spanish officials in connection with criminal investigations of rights violations during that period.

In addition, during a visit to Argentina in August, Albright met with citizens who asked her to release any information the United States may have about Argentines who disappeared and children who were kidnapped during the military dictatorship.

The State Department completed this week its third release of documents relating to the 17-year military dictatorship in Chile. Included in the release were documents from the CIA and other agencies.

The 1976 coup that overthrew Isabel Perón, widow and successor of twice-president Juan Domingo Perón, was the last in a series of seizures of power by the Argentine military that punctuated the country's history from 1930 onward.

Tens of thousands of leftists and suspected leftists — the estimates range from 9,000 to as high as 30,000 — are believed to have died in Argentina during the seven-year period of military rule, known as the "Dirty War."

The junta collapsed after its loss to British forces in the ten-week, 1982 war over the Falklands islands.

According to the State Department's 1999 human rights report on Argentina, the allegedly violent legacy of the 1976-83 regime continues "to be a subject of intense national debate" there, especially when it comes to arresting former junta leaders "on charges of taking or seizing babies born to dissidents in detention and giving them to supporters for adoption."

The State Department said nearly 200 people have been charged for crimes connected to the dictatorship. The Argentine government has funded a group working to reunited families separated by the junta.

As part of the declassification process, Albright also is seeking documents on Operation Condor, a cooperative effort among regional military dictatorships (Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay) to repress suspected leftists, Hunter said.

In a CIA report released earlier this year, the agency said it was "aware of bilateral cooperation among regional intelligence services to track the activities of and, in at least a few cases, kill political opponents" as early as 1974.