Albright to Try to Shed Light on Missing Argentine Children
By CLIFFORD KRAUSS
Aug. 16 -- Secretary of State Madeleine K.
Albright pledged today that she will work to declassify United
States government documents that may shed light on the kidnappings of
hundreds of children from dissidents captured by the Argentine military
during the dictatorship that governed here from 1976 to 1983.
"This is a matter of conscience," she said at a news conference.
who is on a five-day tour of five South American nations,
invited representatives of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo and
Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo for a meeting today at the
of the Plaza de Mayo, a rights group trying to locate
children believed stolen from their imprisoned mothers, have requested
that the Clinton administration open C.I.A. files that could help them in
their search. At the meeting, the groups also urged Dr. Albright to release
documents related to Operation Condor, a plan conceived by several
South American military dictatorships to arrest dissidents in one another's
"I said I would
do my best to see what kind of papers there were," she
told reporters. But in a reference to the Central Intelligence Agency, she
added, "As you know the State Department is not the keeper of all the
Adalberto Rodríguez Giavarini said he welcomed the
promise, adding, "The government of Argentina thinks any acts to clarify
the past will be helpful."
But human rights activists expressed skepticism.
"We do not believe
her," said Hebe de Bonafini, president of the
Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, adding that it was "hypocritical of
Albright to say she is going to look into something that the government
she represents was largely responsible for."
of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo told Dr. Albright
that they held the United States responsible for instructing Argentine
officers at the School of the Americas, a military academy at the time
located in Panama.
the period say that Washington's ties to the Argentine
military junta were not as close as they were to Gen. Augusto Pinochet's
men in Chile.
the United States and Argentina were tense during the
Carter administration, especially after the junta sold wheat to the Soviet
Union in defiance of the embargo that Washington instituted after
Moscow invaded Afghanistan. And during the Falklands War, the
Reagan administration supported Britain.
the C.I.A. is believed to have had a robust intelligence
operation in Argentina at the time.
and 30,000 people disappeared or were executed
during the "dirty war" between the military and two guerrilla groups, the
largest of which carried the banner of Peronist populism. Many of those
killed were students, labor activists and dissidents.
official said that there were far fewer documents in
government files that shed light on Argentina than exist on Chile.
In the case of
Chile, the C.I.A. has continued to resist the release of