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Obama to travel to southern Argentina on coup anniversary

March 5, 2016

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — President Barack Obama will visit the Argentine tourist city of Bariloche on March 24, the 40th anniversary of the military coup in this South American country, officials said Friday.

Since Obama’s March 23-24 visit to Argentina was announced weeks ago, human rights groups here have demanded Obama stay away on the 24th. They argue that Washington supported the brutal 1976-1983 dictatorship.

On Friday, Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra told local media that on March 24 Obama may visit an Argentine satellite company in Bariloche, a popular tourist destination in the Patagonia. She gave no further details.

Later Friday, Kevin Sullivan, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Buenos Aires, confirmed the visit.

He said the decision to visit Bariloche came at the request of the U.S. first lady, who had heard of the beauty of the city known as the “Switzerland of Argentina,” and thought it would be a good place to spend time with her family.

Obama’s visit to Argentina follows his historic visit to Cuba. He will be the first sitting president to visit Havana in nearly 90 years, following President Calvin Coolidge’s trip there in 1928.

Sullivan said that while details of his Argentine trip remain to be ironed out, the U.S. president will meet with President Mauricio Macri and his team, as well as attending to the press and meeting with representatives of civil society.

Despite the controversy of the timing of his visit on the coup anniversary, Sullivan said officials expect no problems. “We know that Obama has a lot of admirers here in Argentina.”

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