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Kornbluh: The National Security Archive's Work in Latin America

Interviewee: Peter Kornbluh
Interviewer: Stephanie Hanson
April 9, 2007

The National Security Archive is an independent nongovernmental institution that publishes declassified documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act. Lawsuits by the Archive have brought new materials on events such as the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Iran-Contra Affair into the public domain and changed the way scholars interpret those events. Peter Kornbluh, senior analyst at the National Security Archive and director of its Cuba and Chile documentation projects, discusses the Archive's work in Latin America.

Kornbluh discusses the recent release of documents related to the Chiquita Banana scandal, in which Chiquita admitted it funded a Colombian paramilitary group responsible for many civilian massacres. He says these documents have widened a major scandal linking paramilitary groups to the Colombian government.

He explains how the Archive decides what kind of material to pursue under the Freedom of Information Act and how it has now started to help Latin America countries develop their own Freedom of Information Acts. Several massive discoveries of documents covering repression during the military dictatorships of the 1970s, he says, sparked the development of coalitions that can press for access to these documents. The declassification process will "strengthen democracy, transparence, and accountability, which is so sorely lacking in so many Latin American countries."

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