March 10, 2014
Opposition weighs in on US plane conflict
Several lawmakers in the opposition formally requested Congress to ask the Fernández de Kirchner administration for a full briefing on the case involving a US Air Force plane which was allegedly "trying to smuggle sensitive material in the country."
Many in the opposition criticized the current administration’s foreign policy, warning that this is a “new international blunder.”
Lawmakers Alfredo Atanasof (Federal Peronist) and Miguel Bonasso (Dialogue for Buenos Aires) presented the Lower House with resolutions demanding the Executive branch to provide them with an explanation.
Mr. Atanasof requested for an immediate report regarding the “sensitive material” seized from the plane last week, and said he expects to find out more about the bilateral training program being instructed by the US military.
The lawmaker said this incident is “concerning” since “it affects the normal functioning of the bilateral relations between Argentina and the US.”
At the same time, lawmaker Bonasso said the incident was “a scandal” and added he suspected that both the local and the US governments had violated domestic and international laws.”
Mr. Bonasso said he held the Fernández de Kirchner administration responsible for not letting Congress know of these activities, since the authorization for the deployment of foreign troops on sovereign soil must be sanctioned by Congress, instead of just being decided by the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Security.
The city Cabinet Chief, Horacio Rodríguez Larreta also weighted in on the situation, warning that the country was once again creating “an international blunder” and regretted that the current administration “insists on enacting a foreign policy that only continues to isolate us from the world.”
“Our only friend right now is Hugo Chávez,” he stated.
“This is a new embarrassment, like the one we experienced 15 days ago when Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman stated that we were sending members of the Metropolitan Police to be trained in torture courses and then backfired since we proved that members of the Federal and Buenos Aires province police forces (functional to the ruling party) were also being trained there, along with eight other Latin American countries,” he said.
UCR leaders also expressed their opinion, including presidential hopefuls Ernesto Sanz and Ricardo Alfonsín.
“This scandal seems to be a smoke curtain in an electoral year over a sovereignty problem,” Mr. Sanz stated. “This seems to be brought up at a time in which the government is being accused of corruption.”
“Does the government really think that what Argentina needs now is an artificial conflict with the US? Or is it just the Kirchnerites that need it?” he said. Mr. Sanz closed by saying that “demagogy is bad, but being a demagogue in foreign policy is one of the most irresponsible things a government could ever do.”
Ricardo Alfonsín, however, seemed to have a different point of view on the matter.
“US officials must be subject to Argentine law,” he said, although he said he believed the local government had “overreacted” in the conflict.
“Beyond the government’s overreaction, Mr. Timerman’s statements and the exploitation of this incident for political gain, the US should be ready to follow the rules of our country,” he said.
“I don’t really know if the US effectively tried to smuggle illegal material, but if that was the case, they have to know that they are subject to the local and international laws, just as it should be in any country on Earth,” he concluded.