Uruguayan Minister of Defense Jorge Menendez presented to the nation’s Senate a bill that would temporarily allow United States troops into the country during the upcoming G-20 Summit to be held in Buenos Aires.
Menendez appeared in a hearing before the Senate defense commission on Tuesday to introduce a bill that would authorize the entry of eight US Air Force aircraft and up to 400 civilians, secret service and military members between November 26 and December 3.
The official stressed that the proposals adhere to Uruguay’s international agreements regarding military cooperation and that "these agreements commit Uruguay to provide logistical support in certain circumstances," Menendez argued.
Several left-leaning parties including the Wide Front (FA), Intersindicate Workers Plenary - National Workers Convention (PIT-CNT), State Officials Conference Organizations (COFE), and the Communist Party of Uruguay (PCU) were hesitant of the measure but several members of the PCU and FA met with Menendez in order to clarify the bill.
Representative Gerardo Nuñez (FA), President Tabare Vazquez’s party, said he and his party would analyze the request but added: "The activities that the U.S. intends to carry out on Uruguayan soil could be carried out in Argentina or the high seas."
Members of the Party for the Victory of the People (PVP) asked the minister at the hearing: "Why does the United States establishing a base here in Uruguay and not in Argentina?"
The last time the U.S. sent its troops to Uruguay was in 1990 and 2007 to accompany George Bush Sr. and Jr., respectively, but there was no bill sent to the Uruguayan Congress regarding their arrival.
The aircraft would be held at the Carrasco Airport.
The defense ministry said it may be open to changing the bill to accept troops from other countries that participate in the G20 to appease the opposition.
"On principle, we would not vote on this (bill)" Nuñez told local media then added: "The defense minister conveyed the reasons (for the measure) and presented it, but we do not agree on the measure."
Socialist party representative Roberto Chiazzaro told newspapers that he has no problem voting. "Saying this is an invasion seems out of place because the invader does not ask for permission. It is a presence that makes me uncomfortable, but we understand that there is an international collaboration," he said.
The Senate is set to vote on the measure next week. The G-20 will take place in Buenos Aires Nov. 30 until Dec. 1.