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Mar 24, 2016 8:01 PM

The Latest: Argentina's president sees Obama off

The Associated Press

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) The Latest on President Barack Obama's visit to Argentina (all times local):

7:45 p.m.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri is seeing President Barack Obama off as he prepares to return to Washington.

Obama spent his final hours in Argentina with his family at a resort in Patagonia with stunning views of the mountains and a lake. The White House says Macri came to the Llao Llao Hotel and Resort to say goodbye to the president. Their meeting is taking place in private.

Macri has worked to build close ties with the U.S. and Obama in particular despite criticism from some Argentinians. Obama's goal for the visit was to advance that relationship before leaving office.

Obama flies first on Thursday evening to Buenos Aires to board a larger version of Air Force One. Then he and his family will fly overnight to Washington.


5 p.m.

Several thousand people are marching in Buenos Aires to commemorate the 40th anniversary of a military coup that installed a repressive regime that killed or disappeared thousands of people.

Protesters gathered several blocks from the Plaza de Mayo square in downtown and marched toward it.

Leading the protest is Estela de Carlotto, president of the of the rights group Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

The annual march had an added focus this year with the visit of President Barack Obama. Several rights groups argue that the United States backed the dictatorship and thus the presence of an American president is insulting.


3:45 p.m.

President Barack Obama and his family are exploring a national park on their final day in Argentina.

The president, his wife, Michelle, and daughter, Malia, are hiking a trail at Villa Tacul, a forest inside Nahuel Huapi National Park. The lush green forest sits along Nahuel Huapi Lake in Patagonia in southern Argentina.

Obama's other daughter, Sasha, went with her grandmother in another car after the family arrived at the airport.

The Obamas flew to Bariloche for a leisurely afternoon in a region known for its natural beauty.


3:10 p.m.

Hundreds of demonstrators have greeted President Barack Obama in the southern Argentine city of Bariloche.

Protesters tried to approach Obama's motorcade as it snaked along a riverside road, but were held back by police. They displayed their middle fingers and held up signs, though they weren't visible from the speeding motorcade.

Before Obama's visit, several rights groups had pledged to protest his presence. Some cited concerns about the U.S. role in Argentina's 1976-1983 dictatorship. Thursday is the 40th anniversary of the 1976 coup.

Obama is in Patagonia region for some leisure time with his wife and daughters before he departs late Thursday for Washington.


12:20 p.m.

President Barack Obama has left Buenos Aires.

He is taking his wife, Michelle, and daughters Malia and Sasha, to Bariloche, in southern Argentina, for some family time.

Bariloche is located in Argentina's Patagonia, a sparsely populated region at the southern tip of South America. Bariloche is known for its Swiss alpine architecture and chocolate. It's also a popular spot for hiking and skiing in the nearby Andres mountains.

Obama departs for Washington later Thursday.


11 a.m.:

President Barack Obama says the United States was slow to speak out for human rights in Argentina during a dark period in that country's history.

But he says his administration is trying to make amends by declassifying even more documents that could shed light on the U.S. role in what is known as Argentina's "Dirty War." Thousands of people died or went missing following a 1976 coup that opened a period of military rule.

Obama says what happened in Argentina isn't unique to Argentina.

He says it takes courage for a society to address uncomfortable truths about its past, but that doing so is necessary to move forward.

Obama spoke after visiting Remembrance Park and its memorial to the victims.


10:45 a.m.

President Barack Obama and Argentine President Mauricio Macri walked slowly together along the Monument to the Victims of State Terrorism at Remembrance Park. The monument, similar to the Vietnam War Memorial in the United States, contains the names and ages of several thousand victims of Argentina's "Dirty War" under the country's former military leadership.

The leaders paused halfway down the wall as a guide pointed to the tiles featuring scores of names.

Both presidents walked to the edge of the waterfront along the Rio de la Plata and each one tossed a white wreath into the water.

Before departing, Obama and Macri paused briefly to gaze at a small statue rising from the water.


10:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama is paying tribute to victims of Argentina's "Dirty War" during a visit to Remembrance Park in Buenos Aires.

The visit coincides with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 coup that opened a period of military rule that continues to haunt Argentina. Millions are spent each year prosecuting perpetrators and scouring for the remains of the thousands of people who died or disappeared during that era.

Obama was using the visit to lay the groundwork for the U.S. to come clean about any involvement. He has announced plans to declassify additional U.S. documents, including military and intelligence records that have never been released.


10:10 a.m.

Prominent human rights groups in Argentina are saying they will boycott President Barack Obama's visit to a memorial for people who died during the South American nation's dictatorship.

Obama will visit the memorial Thursday morning on the 40th anniversary of a coup that led to military rule and the killing and disappearing of thousands of Argentines.

Obama quelled some opposition to his presence in Argentina on such a sensitive date by announcing last week his administration would declassify thousands of internal documents from that period.

But rights groups say it's still hard to imagine embracing the president of a country they accuse of backing the dictatorship that killed their children, parents, friends or spouses.

Nora Cortinas of the iconic Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo group says Obama "is a representative of death."

In her words: "What would victims say if they saw (us) hugging and paying homage to a president from a country responsible for state terrorism?"


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