On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama and Argentine President Mauricio Macri visited Parque de la Memoria—Remembrance Park—to pay tribute to the victims of the dictatorship that brutalized the country from 1976 to 1983. The two took three white roses each, threw them into a nearby estuary, and then bowed their heads. The moment helped mark the 40th anniversary of the coup that brought the dictatorship to power; as Obama acknowledged, the precise role the United States played in that event and the crackdown that followed remains a matter of controversy.
Obama’s visit is the second stop on the president’s tour of Latin America this week, and follows his historic trip to Cuba, which marked the first visit to the island by a sitting U.S. president in nearly 90 years. But while the Cuba visit marked a particularly dramatic departure from decades of mutual antagonism between that country and the United States, Obama is looking to ease tense relationships elsewhere in Latin America as well. Argentina, which had been governed by leftist and anti-American leaders for many years, in November elected the center-right former mayor of Buenos Aires, Mauricio Macri, who has sought to mend relationships with the United States and others—a sharp contrast with his predecessor Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.