The US Government is financing a “humanitarian relief centre” at the airport in Resistencia, Chaco Province, via the US Southern Command (USSC), a division of the US military. The donation for the centre is at least US$1 million.
Official sources such as the US embassy, USSC, and the Chaco government, have been quite adamant in asserting that the centre is solely for humanitarian relief and will not have any connection to USSC operations – and so far there is no evidence to the contrary.
However, there is a lot of speculation in this regard. The US is very concerned with security in the Triple Border Area between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, and many are pointing to the centre as a front for some sort of intelligence project.
We did our weekly vox pop in front of the symbolic Malvinas Memorial (Plaza San Martin) to find out what is the level of awareness on the topic is on the streets of Buenos Aires. Also, we wanted to catch a glimpse of what the feelings towards the US involvement in Argentine affairs are.
Read the voice of the streets of Buenos Aires here.
Photos by Diego Espinoza
Alejandro Avalo, 25, Gran Buenos Aires, engineering student
It is good that they are interested in helping South America, but the truth is that each government should deal with his problems and if they want to give help in a province like Chaco, [Chaco’s] government should also be aware of whose hands they are really leaving this into. More responsibility is needed about the aftermath of this donation – especially if we are talking of these sums. What’s going to happen next? Will they carry on what they promised? Here in Argentina the degree of corruption is so high that it is easy not to trust anyone or anything. If checks are not carried on, everything is done in vain. I don’t think the US administration is trying to influence our politics, we are different countries with different cultures and each one is administrated differently. If they’d tried so, it would not be correct.
Diego Marcelo, 34, Capital Federal, worker in a health-related company
In Chaco and Argentina we are already well equipped to deal with natural disasters. In the interior province I can’t think about a cataclysm, besides a earthquake and a volcano or fires in Cordoba province. We have good resources. The US already had an antecedent in the triple-border zone where they settle with the excuse of terrorism to investigate on water resources over there. I don’t know now about this new situation. As it always happen, [US governments] start supporting dictators to overthrown legitimate governments and then they turn their back to the same government they helped before. There is no clear politics: they always seek to pursue their own convenience.
Juan Pablo Aleman, 30, Barrio Norte, events organiser
At the first glance, it seems to me that it would not do harm for Chaco to accept foreign help as long as it is legitimate, wherever it comes from. I should however read better what the project is to come to better conclusions. In the past years, there was an era in which the US had a strong influence on us via the IMF and we were defenceless against their cultural and political influence – it was the era of Carlito (Menem). Now with our president they can’t do what they want as they used to do in the past. They are imperialist; they are from the first world. But if they want to help, let them come.
Paula Rodriguez, 26, Santiago de Chile, tourist and philosophy student
A help to poor communities is always a bit of a lie because they always take advantage of these situations to plunder what communities produce. US always fostered divisions amongst communities in Latin America. In Chile is the same, they are fighting over a military base but people don’t really know much about it besides what they read once in an independent newspaper – same happens with mining, which in Chile is privatised and the US owns licenses. When US military invest money in the country the government is always happy. The US influence here is more fashion, culture, all the people want to learn English to follow the so-called American Dream - something I’m skeptical about.
Belen Luis, 17, Capital Federal, high-school student
I think it is good if a foreign country wants to help us, it is all good. There are many people in need out there. Chaco’s government did good to accept the donation. I really don’t know much about US politics here in the past. What do they want in exchange? They must want something, anyway. People don’t have access to this information however.
Marta Luz Ledesma, 68, Salta, housewife
It is good, Chaco’s government did well to accept this donation, it is marvelous. We need it a lot in Bolivian Chaco, the Argentine one and Paraguayan one. It is not suspicious at all; they are helping the local population. US influence? It won’t affect, the more countries offer to indigenous populations the better is.