News / USA

    Obama Back at White House After Visiting Cuba, Argentina

    President Barack Obama exits Air Force One with his family, March 25, 2016, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
    President Barack Obama exits Air Force One with his family, March 25, 2016, at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

    Multimedia

    VOA News

    President Barack Obama returned to the United States after a trip to Latin America that included a stop in Argentina and a historic visit to Cuba where he met with President Raul Castro.   

    Obama, his wife, two daughters and mother-in-law took off on Air Force One from Buenos Aires Ezeiza International Airport and landed at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington early Friday. They returned to the White House to begin preparations for the holiday weekend, including the famous Easter egg roll.

    Obama said the United States was slow to speak out on the atrocities committed during Argentina's former dictatorship but that his administration will "confront the past with honesty and transparency."

    "What happened here in Argentina is not unique to Argentina and it’s not confined to that past," said Obama in Buenos Aires.  "Each of us have a responsibility each and every day to make sure that wherever we see injustice, wherever we see rule of law flouted that we are honest witnesses, that we are speaking out, that we are examining our own hearts and taking responsibility to make this a better place for our children and our grandchildren."

    Obama on Thursday visited a memorial park to victims of the so-called "Dirty War" on the 40th anniversary of the coup that installed a brutal military regime.

    The president said it takes courage for a society to address "uncomfortable" truths about the "darker parts of its past."

    "Confronting crimes committed by our own leaders, by our own people, that can be divisive and frustrating. But it’s essential to moving forward to building a peaceful and prosperous future in a country that respects the rights of all of its citizens," Obama said.

    Declassified U.S. documents have shown that the United States backed the regime that human rights activists say was responsible for the death or disappearance of some 30,000 people between 1976 and 1983 - the Dirty War period.

    Obama has said his administration will try to make amends by declassifying more documents which made further detail the role the United States played in the dictatorship.

    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, March 24, 2016.
    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, March 24, 2016.

    Criticized for visiting on coup anniversary

    Critics of the president's visit, including many who lost friends or relatives during the years under the military government, say the Obamas should not have come to Argentina on such an important anniversary.  Protests linked to the anniversary were held in Buenos Aires and across the nation.

    Obama was the guest of Argentina's new president, Mauricio Macri, who is intent on strengthening the strained ties between the two nations.

    After being guests of honor at a state dinner Wednesday night, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama attended a ceremony Thursday to remember the victims of the regime at Remembrance Park in Buenos Aires.

    Evidence of U.S. support for South American dictatorships has been public knowledge for more than a decade; but, the United States announced last week, at the behest of the Argentine government, that it will declassify even more military and intelligence documents linked to the Dirty War.

    White House aide Ben Rhodes said last week that the president believes "moving forward in the Americas or any other part of the world involves a clear-eyed recognition of the past."

    President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle arrive for a state dinner with Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, March 21, 2016.
    President Barack Obama, right, and first lady Michelle arrive for a state dinner with Cuba's President Raul Castro, left, at the Palace of the Revolution in Havana, March 21, 2016.

    Landmark Cuba visit

    The president's trip to Argentina followed a landmark visit to Cuba, the first by a sitting U.S. president in almost nine decades.  During his meeting with President Castro, Obama called on the U.S. Congress to lift the decades-long trade embargo on Cuba.

    Macri said Wednesday that the Obamas' visit came "at a perfect time" because, he said, "Argentines have understood and decided to build mature and reasonable relationships with every country in the world."

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Janet from: Michigan, USA
    March 27, 2016 1:35 AM
    I think this was a great trip to move all three countries forward. Too many times we leave diplomacy stuck in the past. Opening up nations to the current culture, be it good or bad, will also bring the good. Nations need to be exposed to freedom. That always comes with freedom to express your self in the arts and with economic opportunities. Good for President Obama for having the insight and the courage to move relationships with these nations forward and not keeping things frozen.

    by: SUTTON from: MAINE
    March 26, 2016 10:21 PM
    How intriguing that Obama was able to cloak this trip as *building barriers* when it looks like he only used AF1 for a little family
    Spring break. Cuba has an abysmal record re human rights and
    Argentina isn't much better. He may fool some of the people some of the time but NOT all of the people all of the time.

    by: ganmak
    March 26, 2016 3:02 AM
    The United State is the most richest and strongest country. And president Obama is the most creative and loved president.

    by: JoeQ from: usa
    March 25, 2016 9:21 PM
    The Obama's should have stayed one more day to cat h the Rolling Stones!

    by: Pl
    March 25, 2016 6:14 PM
    Love the President and his family. They make me proud to be an American.

    by: Razdan
    March 25, 2016 5:48 PM
    Obama is an efficient President. I want take his place starting from this month if USA people want their economy to improve. Calling me later will be too late.

    by: Fareed from: San Francisco
    March 25, 2016 2:04 PM
    Welcome back Home Mr. President and thank you for including your family in this important and delicate diplomatic mission that only you could facilitate. A grateful nation thanks you.

    by: Andrew Rushdie from: Ohio
    March 25, 2016 9:34 AM
    Obama snubs allies and courts the likes of Cuba which has a horrendous human rights violation history. Close GITMO? How about Cuba? I'm sure waterboarding is a walk in the park compared to their torture techniques. #GetAClue

    by: James from: PASADEANA
    March 25, 2016 8:21 AM
    Too bad he did not stay in the country he thought so great. America has no place for sorry people like them.

    by: manju from: fairfax
    March 25, 2016 8:12 AM
    Good job Obamas!Very sweet dance.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora