Chief of the Southern Command of the US Forces visits Uruguay and Argentina

by Stella Calloni, Argentina

gl. When Alberto Fernández took over as president of Argentina in December 2019, the country was once again on the brink of national bankruptcy. 40% of the population was living below the poverty threshold and inflation was over 50%. Two months after he took office, the country experienced the first wave of the Corona pandemic, and is now suffering severely from the second wave.
  The previous government of Mauricio Macri had ruined the country in only four years of office according to the old recipes of neoliberalism, undoing the painstaking reconstruction of the past 15 years: mass layoffs in state-owned enterprises, exorbitant price increases for electricity, water and public transport, massive increases in food prices. Macri had agreed to repay the remaining old debts to hedge funds that were not willing to reschedule, lifted all capital controls and received the largest loan ever granted by the IMF, totalling 57 billion dollars. Today, debt rescheduling negotiations with the IMF are still ongoing and are keeping the government very busy, in addition to dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The head of the US Armed Forces Southern Command, Admiral Craig Faller, arrived in Argentina on 7 April, coming from Uruguay. The next day, he met with Defence Minister Agustin Rossi and his international affairs team for a “humanitarian tour to donate three field hospitals on behalf of the Pentagon to assist Argentina in joint efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” according to the US Embassy.
  According to an analysis by Infobae, a digital portal that receives direct information from the US, “Faller’s visit to Argentina on this occasion has a triple diplomatic purpose: to make clear that the democratic US administration will not distance itself from the Argentine government based on its decision to turn its back on the Lima Group1; to solidify the White House’s position on these countries; and to place this visit in a clear geopolitical context.”
  Behind the visit would also be the pursuit of the so-called “vaccine diplomacy” that Russia and China have with Argentina. Without Sinopharm and Sputnik V vaccines, President Alberto Fernández would face social chaos in the face of the second wave of the Corona virus, and “this weakened health care situation, which the Pentagon and State Department characterise as a sign of dependence on Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, will override Faller’s talks”, says analyst Edgardo Aguilera.
  During his visit to Uruguay, Faller also handed over three field hospitals worth $4.8 million as a donation, among other medical supplies, which triggered a strong protest from trade union sectors and left – political parties who condemned the numerous interference actions of the US Southern Command in their country.
  Regarding the donation of three field hospitals to his own country, Aquilera adds, “Argentina already has the use of mobile hospitals of larger dimensions: one from the Argentine Air Force and two ceded by the People’s Republic of China to the Argentine army; 13 containers of its own trucks worth almost $5 million arrived in the country earlier this year.”
  Agreeing with other analysts, he explains that Faller’s trip to the Tierra del Fuego capital of Ushuaia is part of a geopolitical gambit, recalling that on 24 March last year, “during a conference organised by the William J. Perry Centre for Hemispheric Defense Studies, the admiral spoke about Chinese fishing fleets and illegal fishing activities and said that no country could face these threats alone.” You could say it is not fisheries or squid, it is China.
  Aguilera pointed out that “last February, in the strategic interest of the US, the first step was taken in Operation Southern Cross with the deployment of the advanced coast guard vessel Stone. The Coast Guard’s first patrol in South America is designed to build regional maritime security partnerships and combat illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing in the South Atlantic.”
  Currently, the South Atlantic is increasingly under the ambitious gaze of the United States, the United Kingdom, as well as the greed of international corporations seeking to acquire vast areas of resources in the geostrategic ally significant South Atlantic.  •

1 The Lima Group is a coalition of a number of Latin American countries that support the overthrow of the government of Venezuela.

Source: of 8 April 2021

(Translation Current Concerns)

gl. Former Argentine President Mauricio Macri concluded a so-called “security agreement” with the US Southern Command. This was based on a 1995 decree by then President Carlos Menem to install a US military base in Tolhuin, second city of  Tierra del Fuego, the south tip of Argentina, to monitor nuclear explosions. The installation of a logistic base in Usuhaia was also announced.
  Already in 2017, US diplomats, mentioning the investments of the multinationals Chevron and ExxonMobil Corp. in the Vaca Muerta oilfields, had been monitoring the place where this “base” would be located.

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