Henry Kissinger has always brushed aside questions about his conspiracy in human rights abuses overseas. A memo recently came to light that documents Kissinger giving Argentina’s military dictatorship the go-ahead to complete the “Dirty War.” Kissinger’s involvement leaves him partially responsible for the disappearance — and deaths — of 30,000 people.
Patt Derian, a former activist in civil rights, had been appointed assistant secretary of state for human rights by US President Jimmy Carter. In April 1977, Derian met with the American Ambassador, Robert Hill, in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The memo records the conversation between Hill and Derian where Hill filled in details about a meeting he attended with Kissinger and Argentine Foreign Minister Cesar Augusto Guzzetti in June 1976.
According to the document, Guzzetti explained to Kissinger that the “…primary issue in Argentina is terrorism.” Kissinger told Guzzetti, “If there are things that have to be done, …do them quickly…”
The Argentines had been concerned that Kissinger was going to lecture them about the country’s abuse of human rights. Meeting in the posh Buenos Aires barrio of Puerto Madero, Kissinger and Guzzetti enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Kissinger did not bring up the subject of terrorism, leaving Guzzetti to put the issue on the table. Kissinger queried Guzzetti about the “problem” and asked how long it would take Argentines to clear it up. Informing the Secretary of State that it would be completed by year’s end, Kissinger nodded and voiced his approval.
Ambassador Hill Explained to Derian that Kissinger had given Argentina the “green light” to continue its killing spree.
A few weeks later, Hill was in San Francisco with Kissinger to attend a meeting. On the return trip to Washington, Hill and Kissinger talked about the Guzzetti discussion and Kissinger confirmed the accuracy of the meeting. Kissinger then told Hill that he wanted Argentina to “finish the terrorist problem” before the end of December.
The impetus for Kissinger’s urgency was the recent passage of new human rights laws by the American Congress which required the White House to certify a government’s respects for human rights before granting American aid. Kissinger went on to tell Hill that he hoped the Argentine military junta could end their elimination of the opposition prior to the law going into effect.
The end result of Kissinger pushing the South American dictatorship to “finish the job” was intensification of its dirty war. Upon returning to Buenos Aires, Hill saw the death toll had climbed sharply. The recently released memo goes on to say, “Ambassador Hill said he would tell all of this to the Congress if he were put on the stand under oath. ‘I’m not going to lie,” Hill told his aides.
The National Security Archive received the transcript of the Guzzetti meeting in February. Having filed a request under the Freedom of Information Act, the archive received a document where key passages had been obliterated. The archive appealed and the deleted sections were restored.
Hill, who died under mysterious circumstances in 1978, never did get to testify about Kissinger and the Argentine generals.
Kissinger remains a voice on foreign affairs in Washington.
By Jerry Nelson