The human rights community mourns the death of F. Allen “Tex” Harris who, due to his courageous work on behalf of the victims of Argentina’s “dirty war” during the 1970s, exemplified a commitment to moral and ethical foreign policy.
Posted by the United States Foreign Service in Buenos Aires, he was among the very first people to understand the extent of the repression following the 1976 coup that brought the military to power. Over the ensuing years, he opened the doors of the U.S. Embassy to families searching for loved ones who had “disappeared” and began to assiduously document their cases on index cards.
Operating within an embassy that was more interested in pursuing a different narrative about the atrocities, and at considerable risk to his job, he consistently used the dissent channel within the Department of State to report the truth about the widespread violations that were occurring. With the election of President Jimmy Carter, and working in collaboration with the Administration’s Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Patt Derian,, his courageous work documenting the abuses carried out by the Argentine dictatorship helped ensure that pressure was put on the Argentine generals, thus saving many lives.
Tex’s work earned him the Department of State’s Distinguished Honor Award in 1993 for his achievements in reporting on and opposing the massive human rights abuses of the Argentine military dictatorship. More importantly, his bravery earned him enduring respect and affection from the Argentine people, who saw in him a champion for human rights.
Tex Harris, presente!