The U.S. ambassador to Argentina, Noah Mamet, said the date of President Barack Obama's trip to the South American country, which coincides with the 40th anniversary of the coup d'etat that established the last Argentine dictatorship, is in no way related to that day in history.
"March 24 is a very significant day for all Argentines. Nonetheless, we must explain that the president's decision to travel on that date is because his visit to Argentina must coincide with his trip to Cuba, which is scheduled for March 21 and 22," Mamet said in a statement cited in the daily Clarin.
The diplomat did say, however, that the United States government "shares with Argentina the defense of human rights as a universal principle."
The fact is that the state visit by the U.S. president to the country governed by Mauricio Macri, announced Thursday for March 23-24, has caused bad feelings among a number of humanitarian associations because it comes on the date of the coup d'etat that put the last Argentine dictatorship (1976-1983) in power.
For example, the cofounder of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo-Founding Line, Nora Cortiñas, said Friday in a statement on La Red radio, that there is "nothing funny" about the president of the United States showing up on a day of such terrible memories.
"They (the U.S.) were the instigators of the dictatorships in the Southern Cone of Latin America. Besides, that is a country that constantly meddles in other countries, causing horror," Cortiñas said, adding that she asks herself if "this wasn't premeditated" and whether "they particularly chose this day," which would be "very sadistic."
On Friday it became known that the Argentine president will receive representatives of human rights organizations next Tuesday at the Casa Rosada as part of the commemorative ceremonies on the anniversary of the coup.
Meanwhile Mamet said that in the year he has been U.S. ambassador to Argentina, he has seen "the enormous affection and respect" that Argentines feel for Obama.
"I'm convinced that this visit will serve to consolidate that relationship looking toward the future," he said.