It is with great sadness that we report the passing of F. Allen “Tex” Harris last Monday, February 23, 2020. He died at a hospital in Fairfax County, VA. He was 81 years old. We bear a tremendous sense of emptiness in our hearts at his passing. Tex has been a friend and a tireless supporter of this blog. We are devastated by this sudden loss and extend our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
Buenos Aires Times cited Argentina’s Foreign Ministry in paying tribute to Tex:
“The Argentine Government and its people deeply regret the death of former US diplomatic official Allen ‘Tex’ Harris, who played an essential role in denouncing the disappearances and violations of human rights during the last civic-military dictatorship,” the Ministry, headed by Felipe Solá, said in a statement.
“Tex Harris was assigned to Argentina from 1977 to 1979, during which time he opened the doors of the United States Embassy to relatives of the disappeared and tried to help them find their loved ones. During this period, he filed 13,500 complaints about serious human rights violations,” it continued, noting that Harris had been decorated with the Orden del Libertador San Martín by late president Néstor Kirchner in 2004.
Graciela Palacio de Lois who joined the Familiares de Desaparecidos y Detenidos por Razones Políticas (“Relatives of the Disappeared and Detained for Political Reasons”) after the dictatorship’s death squads had kidnapped her husband, Ricardo Lois, told the Buenos Aires Times, “He prevented me from being kidnapped by the dictatorship.”
Robert Cox, the Former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald (1968-1979) called Tex “the man who did the right thing.” In Buenos Aires Times, he writes, “We will never know how many lives ‘ Tex’ Harris saved by his decision to confront the radical evil of the 1976-1983 dictatorship. But I do know that Tex, then a newly arrived junior diplomat at the US Embassy, halted mass murder, simply by keeping a record of the people who were to be obliterated from existence under the military’s plan to wipe out subversion. It was an extraordinarily brave act of conscience and a supreme act of courage that almost cost Tex his career, while endangering his life and that of his wife Jeanie.”
In A Great American, Mario Del Carril writes “Over the years, I have had the opportunity to hear him reflect on his Argentine experience, saying he believed the human rights policy had not been effective. I believe he was wrong. True, it took four years to stop the killings, but this was in part due to vacillations and infighting. The policy had an impact in an area that is very important and often overlooked: it stopped the method of disappearances from becoming a new norm in the fight against terrorism. Some in the Argentine military government were proud of the methods they employed. It was considered a success, to be presented to the world as an achievement in warfare. A method that could be exported and taught. In the long run, this did not happen.”
Rest in peace, Tex. I will miss you. 😢 https://t.co/a2DHbBoeU7
— Diplopundit (@Diplopundit) February 26, 2020