I am honored to be part of this official inauguration of the memorial space highlighting the ESMA Site Museum in Buenos Aires and its importance to the process of memory, truth, and justice in Argentina. I want to thank Ambassador Arguello for this invitation and the dedication of the Embassy of Argentina staff.
The United States applauds Argentina’s recognition of the atrocities that took place during its last military dictatorship. We understand that confronting a painful past is a difficult process but one that is critical to address the need for justice and reconciliation. The steps Argentina has taken in this regard, including criminal trials of former members of the military, demonstrate how far your country has come. Steps to address the human rights violations of the past, in combination with all the complementary work that has been done over the years to seek justice for victims and survivors, demonstrate the unrelenting courage and strength of the Argentinian people and their commitment to human rights.
Being a present-day champion of human rights requires addressing the human rights violations of the past. In the case of the ESMA premises, this means acknowledging the horrific acts that were perpetrated there and honoring the memory of the individuals who were kidnapped, tortured, and disappeared, as well as the countless children who were “stolen.” By sensitively preserving the site as a memorial to those individuals, your government is bearing witness to human rights violations and condemning the acts that were committed there.
I want to applaud the cooperation between the Government of Argentina and Argentine civil society on the ESMA project. The ESMA memorial and what it represents would not have been possible without the work of groups like the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, who kept pressure on previous administrations to prioritize transparency and justice for the victims.
Honoring the memory of those who suffered unspeakable abuses and those who were disappeared not only provides a measure of justice to their loved ones but serves as reminder to future generations that human rights and democracy must remain at the core of our two countries’ domestic politics and foreign policy. It is in this spirit that we look forward to further cooperation in our multilateral initiatives to prioritize human rights in the western hemisphere and throughout the world, in the OAS, the Human Rights Council, and beyond.
The United States and Argentina, of course, already work closely on many shared values – transparency, justice, human rights, and democracy. Our partnership to promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons, strengthen worker rights in global supply chains, combat antisemitism and promote racial equity, and support transitional justice and accountability is extremely important not only for Argentina but also for the world. Our human rights collaboration has shined a light on violations occurring in Syria, Ukraine, and Sri Lanka, to name a few, and it serves as an example to every country on what upholding universal human rights standards and the tenets of the UN Charter are all about.
I would also like to commend Argentina for your commitment to inclusive democracy where all individuals are valued, respected and included in the governing process. Throughout this Summit for Democracy Year of Action, I encourage us to remain focused on ensuring that our democracies deliver for all of our people, and we welcome Argentina’s leadership in this regard.
Ambassador Arguello, in visiting this space you and your staff have created here, and in reflecting on the abuses suffered by thousands of men, women and children at the former ESMA site in Buenos Aires, I think once more of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo—the “Abuelas”—who reminded us that it is our duty to keep the memory, to keep talking tirelessly, to clarify and spread the truth, and to enlighten the minds of those who still refuse to understand.
Ambassador, thank you once again for inviting me to be present at the dedication of this powerful and moving memorial space.