Violated Sovereignties: The Southern Command in Ushuaia

Stella Calloni
https://www.jornada.com.mx/ultimas/2021/04/06/jefe-del-comando-sur-de-eu-visita-uruguay-y-argentina-7983.html/craig-faller.jpg-4808.html/image_largeSOUTHCOM commander, Admiral Craig Faller (left) met this Tuesday with Uruguay’s Defense chief, General Gustavo Fajardo (right). Photo taken from the Twitter account @USAenEspanol.

Buenos Aires, April 6. In a silent and surprising visit of the Chief of the US Southern Command, Craig Faller will arrive in Buenos Aires this Wednesday, April 7, coming from Uruguay and in addition to holding meetings in this capital, where he will be received by the Minister of Defense Agustín Rossi, he will travel to Ushuaia, the capital of Tierra del Fuego, the place chosen in the security agreements with the past government of the right-wing businessman Mauricio Macri, to install military bases and a Regional Intelligence Center, which was denounced by analysts, warning of the dangers for national sovereignty that these acquired commitments meant.

This newspaper La Jornada made known in various circumstances the security agreements signed by the Macri government (2015-2019) and its Defense and Security officials with the U.S. Southern Command, including the restoration of a 1995 decree, signed by then President Carlos Menem to install a base in Tolhuin, second city of Tierra del Fuego supposedly intended to monitor nuclear explosions,

In the same way the former Minister of Defense under Macri, Oscar Aguad announced the installation of a “logistic” base in Ushuaia to supply “the exploration missions of the Argentine Antarctic”, among other matters.

In fact, in the province of Neuquén, where the vaca Muerta deposits are located, a base was built within the “Humanitarian Aid” program of the Southern Command, which the US had already tried to install it in 2012, but it was not accepted.

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, which in 2018 would commence construction at an announced cost of two million dollars, under the cloak of a site for the Civil Defense of that province. This 600-meter shed was configured within what would be humanitarian aid in case of catastrophes in the so-called Autovía Norte, near the airport.

In general, in view of the serious economic situation left by Macri in a country literally devastated, with a debt of more than 200 billion dollars and with thousands of small and medium-sized companies closed, and large industries paralyzed, very high unemployment and almost 50 percent in poverty, the government of Alberto Fernandez of the Frente de Todos (Peronism), acted quickly in the case of the debt acquired by Macri, aggravated with a loan of 57 billion dollars, the highest ever granted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), when he was about to leave the government, and whose maturity was of a suffocating short term.

At this moment these negotiations are being carried out, but the coronavirus pandemic that devastated the world only three months after the Fernández government took office, limited many of the movements to recover production in the country in the face of a degrading social panorama.

This meant that debts such as the defense of national sovereignty, violated by the security agreements that hang over the heads of Argentines as harshly as the economic one, were neglected. That is why this visit of Faller, who has passed and left his stamp in Uruguay, a country to which “humanitarian aid” was offered and delivered, a euphemism to name Washington’s direct interference, provokes many doubts in that neighboring nation, as well as in Argentina.

This move also comes at a time when President Joe Biden has invited his Argentinean counterpart for a meeting in the United States, a country where a young and renowned Minister of Economy, such as Martin Guzman, is negotiating on a daily basis how a deferred payment of the huge debt contracted by Macri could be solved, under the hard limits of the Pandemic.

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER

Recently, the Argentine Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting the passage of a U.S. nuclear submarine, which was conducting maneuvers with Great Britain, which has a military base on Soledad Island, in the archipelago of the Malvinas Islands, appropriated by the British since 1833 in a colonial scheme.

However, little was said about these UNITAS maneuvers in the geostrategic space of the South Atlantic, and even less about the dangerous conditions in which that region is located. On the one hand, the British base of Mount Pleassant on the island of Soledad, which is currently one of the many bases under the illegal domination of the North Atlantic Organization (NATO), as well as the US base located at Fort Aguayo in Concón in southern Chile, built by the Southern Command, which financed its construction in 2012 as a “Peace Operations Training Center”, which analysts specialized in the region described as a center for “counterinsurgency” training.

Nor was there any discussion regarding the maneuvers planned for this year, with the entry of U.S. special troops through Trelew, province of Chubut, as part of military exercises, with all the consequences that this has, agreed under the Macri government and authorized by the Argentine Congress last year.

Even more. The issue of the maneuvers is linked to the disappearance of the only Argentine submarine, the ARA San Juan on November 15, 2017, a few miles from Ushuaia, when military maneuvers between Great Britain, the United States, Chile, Argentina and the not so announced Brazil were taking place. On the same dates, the former Minister of Security of Macri, Patricia Bullrich, signed an agreement in Ushuaia for the creation of the Regional Intelligence Center and NASA ships arrived at the place with U.S. military that coincided in monitoring the agreements to install bases in the capital of Tierra del Fuego and Toluin.

At this moment the relatives of the 44 crew members of the ARA San Juan, 43 men and one woman, are in trial against the Macrista administration, and the situation is more serious knowing that Macri and the Minister of Defense Aguad already knew where the submarine was, only one month after its disappearance, in December 2017. There have been trials and convictions against Navy chiefs, but as in everything related to Justice -today in the spotlight- continues to keep the truth shrouded in shadows.

Not to forget that the ARA San Juan disappeared in the framework of the maneuvers we referred to above and that nobody says it, as if there were secret pacts, despite the fact that it was known these days that ships from various countries of the world monitored a maritime region with great riches at the bottom of the South Atlantic, something that encouraged former Macri officials to think about the great “investments” that this could bring to the country, no matter the price paid.

Many more facts can be added to understand that we cannot remain silent for long periods of time on such important issues as the sovereignty of our countries or that we all remain indifferent to what is happening in the vast Patagonia, very rich in resources, as if nothing were happening.

That Patagonia where the few survivors of the owners and inhabitants of those lands against whom a genocide was executed, in an unquestionably farcical military expedition of conquest of the “desert” led by an alleged hero, General Julio Argentino Roca, author of the terrible massacres of Tehuelches, Mapuches and other ethnic groups exterminated in the campaigns of 1879-1881. Now the indigenous survivors in both Argentina and Chile are accused of being “terrorists” for the simple fact of defending the scarce lands of their ancestors, which have been taken from them.

And who is now arriving in our south? Is it not time to wake up from this long colonial slumber?