Argentina Government Accuses U.S. of Smuggling Spy Equipment

Wednesday, February 16, 2011
President Cristina Fernandez
Still smarting from President Barack Obama’s decision to skip the country during his upcoming tour of Latin America, Argentina has accused the United States of trying to smuggle weapons, satellite phones and drugs into the country after officials last week confiscated cargo from an American military plane.
U.S. officials say the equipment and materials were shipped to Argentina for a police training course on rescuing hostages that American advisers will conduct.
The Argentine government said the cargo was not properly declared. It claimed the cargo included equipment for “intercepting communications, various sophisticated and powerful GPS devices, technological elements containing codes labeled secret and a trunk full of expired medicine.” A State Department official, on the other hand, insisted the confiscated equipment included one rifle, a first-aid kit, ready to eat meals, a secure communications device similar to a GPS, encrypted communications equipment, tables and personnel foot lockers that contained helmets, and that the only thing not declared was some medicine, including morphine, carried by an Army medic who participates in the training that involves live-ammunition drills.
One indication the seizure may have been well-planned was the presence of Argentine Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman who personally supervised the boarding of the C-17 cargo plane that landed at Ezeiza International Airport.
Relations between the two countries were already chilly after the White House decided to leave Argentina off Obama’s itinerary when he visits El Salvador, Brazil and Chile next month. Argentine officials reportedly were upset at the decision, especially after President Cristina Fernandez blocked a bid by some South American nations to formally condemn U.S. policy amid the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables scandal.
It also is suspected that the seizure was motivated by domestic politics, with Fernández seeking to win the anti-U.S. vote during the next election scheduled for October.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Argentina Holds Confiscated U.S. Air Force Cargo (by Taos Turner, Wall Street Journal)
US Denies Smuggling Spy Equipment into Argentina (by Joseph Fitsanakis,
Argentina Accuses U.S. of Sneaking in Cargo (by Alexei Barrionuevo, New York Times)


james 13 years ago this note or are lying or are not well

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