Argentina Declassification Project: Overview

Declassification Diplomacy

The U.S. Declassification Project for Argentina has involved tens of thousands of work hours from hundreds of government experts across 16 departments and agencies, including records managers, archivists, historians, policymakers and declassification and information access professionals.

Spanning from 2016 to 2019, this effort has been coordinated by the Office of the Director for National Intelligence, with support from the White House and executive branch. In total, the project has resulted in the release of 49,000 pages of documents to the people of Argentina, the largest government-to-government declassification release in United States history.

President Donald Trump acknowledged the successful conclusion of the project with an April 11, 2019, letter to Argentina's President, Mauricio Macri.


President Trump Greets President Macri

President Donald Trump greets Argentinian President Mauricio Macri at the White House. (White House Photo)

Origins of the Effort

In March 2016, then President Obama announced that the U.S. Government would declassify records relating to human rights abuses under Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship.

During a ceremony commemorating the victims of these human rights abuses, held on the 40th anniversary of the 1976 coup d’etat, President Obama committed to releasing relevant records from across the executive branch, including for the first time records from U.S. intelligence, law enforcement, and defense departments and agencies.

“I believe we have a responsibility to confront the past with honesty and transparency,” - President Obama, March 2016

Obama, Macri honor the fallen

President Barack Obama watches as Argentine President Mauricio Macri tosses roses into the river during their visit to Parque de la Memoria (Remembrance Park) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Thursday, March 24, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais via U.S. Embassy in Argentina)

Building on the Past

The 2016-2019 Argentina Declassification Project builds on earlier, narrower, U.S. government declassification efforts addressing human rights abuses committed in Argentina during its "Dirty War," which were completed by the Department of State and the Federal Bureau of Investigations in 2002.

The State Department declassified over 4,000 cables and other materials from the period of the Argentine military dictatorship, while the FBI provided records pursuant to Article 9 of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty. These records have helped Argentina hold human rights abusers accountable, for example, by supporting Argentine criminal investigations into human rights violations under the dictatorship.

This new effort was initiated in 2016 at the request of Argentine President Mauricio Macri as well as human rights groups. It has involved over 16 U.S. Government departments and agencies, including for the first time the Central Intelligence Agency, the FBI, the National Archives and Records Administration and the archives of four Presidential Libraries, as well as several components of the Department of Defense; the military departments, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Keeping Our Promise

In June 2016, federal departments and agencies were directed to search for, identify, and evaluate records for public release. In August 2016, the publication of these promised records began, with 1,078 pages of material online at the Intelligence Community transparency website, IC on the Record. Secretary of State John Kerry personally delivered this first tranche of declassified records to Argentine President Mauricio Macri in Buenos Aires.

Secretary of State John Kerry sits with Argentine President Mauricio Macri at Casa Rosada in Buenos Aries, August 4, 2016. (State Department Photo).

A second release occurred in December 2016, with the posting of approximately 550 pages of declassified records. This material was presented by Ambassador Noah Mamet to Argentina´s Undersecretary for Human Rights and Cultural Pluralism, Claudio Avruj, to commemorate the life and work of former U.S. diplomat Patricia Derian, the Assistant Secretary of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs during the Carter administration.

Ambassador Noah Mamet participated on December 12 in a ceremony organized by the Government of Argentina to honor Patricia Derian at the National Archive of Memory.  (U.S. Embassy in Argentina Photo)

In early 2017, with the inaguration of President Donald Trump, President Macri renewed his request for the continuation of the declassification project. In April 2017, President Trump presented President Macri with a disk containing 932 declassified records, totaling approximately 3,300 pages.


President Donald J. Trump and President Mauricio Macri

President Donald J. Trump hosted President Mauricio Macri of Argentina in April 2017 to discuss ways to deepen the close partnership between the United States and Argentina. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci via U.S. Embassy in Argentina)       

The delivery of the final tranche of records for the U.S. Declassification Project for Argentina took place on April 12, 2019, at a ceremony hosted by the National Archives and Records Administration in Washington, DC.

Archivist of the United States delivers records to Argentina's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, the Honorable Germán Carlos Garavano

David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, David S. Ferriero presents the final installment of declassified records to Argentina's Minister of Justice and Human Rights, Germán Carlos Garavano, who accepted the material on behalf of Argentine President Mauricio Macri.

The Honorable David S. Ferriero, Archivist of the United States, officially delivered the final installment of responsive records to Minister of Justice and Human Rights, the Honorable Germán Carlos Garavano, who accepted the material on behalf of Argentine President Mauricio Macri. A video of the ceremony is available online, via the National Archives.

"The release of records constitutes the largest declassification of United States Government records directly to a foreign government in history. My hope is that access to these records provides the people of Argentina information to help in the healing process."  - President Trump, April 2019

These newly declassified records represent a continued commitment by the United States to promote justice and reconciliation in Argentina, to underscore the importance of transparency, and to highlight our shared commitment to human rights.

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