martes, 8 de marzo de 2016

Is Macri Encouraging US Intervention in Argentina?

The realignment with the United States appears to be a cornerstone of the Macri era in Argentina.

Along with neoliberal economic measures like fiscal adjustments via massive layoffs in the public sector and achieving an agreement over vulture funds under any conditions, the realignment with the United States seems to be one of the cornerstones of the President Mauricio Macri era in Argentina.             

The close ties between government officials and some powerful sectors of the U.S., including banks or security forces, raises the question about the influence that such sectors might have in the Argentine government.  

Such seems to be the case of the country’s security minister, Patricia Bullrich, who made a trip to Washington in late February to strike a deal between the Macri administration and U.S. federal security agencies.

“We found the key and the gate that gives us back an important role in matters of security in Latin America,” Bullrich said about the meetings she and two members of her staff held with U.S. Secretary for Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, Chuck Rosenberg from the DEA and Jack Comey from the FBI.             

According to a communique by the Security Ministry, some of the priorities of the Argentine government in this matter are “the cooperation and exchange of biometrical criminal intelligence, and a restart in our relation with the FBI National Academy to train our assets.”  

But besides the best intentions expressed by the government officials, some of the country’s experts on U.S.-Argentine relations remain skeptical, to say the least, about such agreements.    

Leandro Morgenfeld, a researcher with a PhD in History, who focuses on bilateral relations between the two countries told teleSUR that Macri seems to be addressing the U.S. State Department agenda.            

“One of the main topics is what they refer to as cooperation in the fight against drug trafficking and terrorism. We know that since the 1970s, during Nixon’s presidency, the strategy of ‘war on drugs’ was implemented. That strategy involved the militarization of the struggle against drug trafficking and it brought a real disaster, especially in Central America and in all the countries that applied those policies,” he argued. 

One of Argentina’s most renowned investigative journalists and author of several investigations on the role of the DEA in Latin America, Stella Calloni, is a strong critic of Bullrich. “She just came back from Washington and she is practically saying that Argentina is a transit country for drug trafficking when this is a country of consumption,” she told teleSUR.           

“Nobody would come over to the southernmost part of the continent to ship over drugs to the rest of the world, it is absurd. But Bullrich needs to say that so she can asks for U.S. cooperation and allow U.S. agents to enter the country,” she added.

Experts also agree that the case of indigenous leader and political prisoner Milagro Sala is related to this topic, since the Macri administration has tried to establish the idea that the provinces of Salta and Jujuy — where Sala’s Tupac Amaru social movement is considerably strong — in the northwest border of the country are drug trafficking hotspots.      

Calloni explains that U.S. intervention in that border would also be useful to create frontier problems between Argentina and Bolivia: “Bullrich is a key figure to introduce the policy of ‘war on drugs’ — when actually drug trafficking is not meant to be fought by weapons — and to occupy the borders.”

The fragments of Macri’s campaign speeches when he used to talk about the importance of developing the northwest of the country seem to make much more sense in a different way under the current developments.

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