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  • U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Argentina’s Defense Minister Oscar Aguad.

    U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis and Argentina’s Defense Minister Oscar Aguad. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 August 2018

The U.S. also said they will help Argentina with the security for the upcoming G20 summit.  

Argentina’s Defense Minister Oscar Aguad and United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis agreed on the need to deepen military “cooperation” Wednesday, while Aguad affirmed Argentina was back on the right path.

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In a joint statement to the press, Aguad affirmed there is “a broad field for greater cooperation ahead… Although Argentina had pulled apart from its loyal partners and friends, we have returned to the path from which we shouldn’t have strayed.”

Ties between the U.S. government and the government of Argentina have improved considerably since the presidential victory of businessman Mauricio Macri in Argentina, especially, in the military sector.  

Macri’s government restarted joint military exercises halted in 2011, during Cristina Fernandez’s government (2007-2015), when the Argentine government accused the U.S. of trying to smuggle military objects.

The U.S. and Argentina have also reached agreements to build three U.S. bases in Argentine territory.

One in Ushuaia, in Tierra del Fuego, which, according to Elsa Bruzzone, defense specialist of the Center of Military Men for Argentine Democracy (CEMIDA), is "disguised as a scientific base, and has as its objective the Antartida, the greatest reserve of frozen fresh water in the world."

Another is installation is in the Triple Frontier, in Misiones, where the Guarani aquifer is located. It will reportedly serve to monitor and fight drug trafficking. The Guarani Aquifer is the second largest known aquifer system and a vital source of fresh water.

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The third is a “humanitarian” base in the western city of Neuquen, which has already generated popular resistance. Mapuche leader Jorge Nahual warned “the base comes to fulfill a strategic intelligence objective of the U.S. military, that seeks to protect their corporate interests. Patagonia is an inexhaustible source of resources, and the companies that exploit those resources are from the U.S. That’s what they are here to protect.”

This is Mattis’ first South American tour. His first stop was Brasilia, Brazil, where he met with Brazilian Defense Minister Joaquin Silva e Luna and Foreign Minister Aloysio Nunes. In Brazil, Mattis focused largely on Venezuela and urged Brazil to “lead” the solution to the Venezuelan crisis.

After Brazil, Mattis headed to Buenos Aires. “A lot has been accomplished in bilateral relations, but much more can still be done,” Aguad said.

Through Mattis, Donald Trump’s government offered Mauricio Macri’s government help to provide security in the next G20 summit, scheduled for Nov. 30 to Dec. 1 in Buenos Aires. The U.S. guaranteed it will send supersonic airplanes, an aircraft carrier with anti-craft missiles, radars and cyberdefense equipment.

Mattis’ next stops are Chile and Colombia, reliable U.S. allies in the region.

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