The commander of the Southern Command of the United States Armed Forces (SouthCom), Admiral Craig Faller, began a trip through South America on Sunday that will take him to visit Argentina and Chile, where he is expected to address some of the main concerns of Washington in Latin America
During his tour, which begins in Buenos Aires and runs until Friday, Faller plans to meet with military from both countries to “reinforce” the existing relationship and address some issues that concern the Government of President Donald Trump, confirmed sources from the Pentagon.
These issues include the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and the growing influence in Latin America of Russia, China – which the admiral himself has described as “global competitors” – and Iran.
The Caracas Government is one of the great antagonists of the current White House, to the point that the US It was one of the first countries to recognize the leader of the Parliament Juan Guaidó as president in charge of Venezuela, to the detriment of Nicolás Maduro.
The humanitarian crisis that has been going on in that country for some time has caused an exodus of about 3.7 million people, according to United Nations data, which seriously affects the entire region.
On May 14th, SouthCom sent the hospital ship USNS Comfort to the Caribbean area, with the capacity to serve more than a thousand patients, with the aim of alleviating the saturation suffered by the health services of some countries in the region due to the massive arrival of migrants from Venezuela.
In addition, Trump himself has reiterated on several occasions that “all options are on the table” and that does not rule out a possible military intervention to overthrow President Maduro, an option that nevertheless seems unfeasible if it does not have a majority regional support.
Despite the good relationship that President Trump says he has with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, the recent sending of troops to Venezuela by the Kremlin has hinted at the disagreements that exist between the two leaders.
While the White House tenant claimed that Moscow had communicated the withdrawal of the “majority” of his military personnel from Venezuela, Putin maintained that the contingent would remain there to “honor” his obligations to the Maduro government, although he assured that Moscow has no intention of creating a military base in the Latin American country.
In addition, Washington notes with concern the interference in its “backyard” of a State that, in Faller’s words, “tries to shape the world according to its authoritarian vision”.
China’s economic influence in Latin America is growing, something that worries the United States. considering that this may lead to a loss of sovereignty on the part of countries that it considers allies.
“To exercise political and economic power in certain countries, China uses in Latin America the same abusive and non-transparent credit practices that it has used all over the world,” Faller warned in February in a document forwarded to the US House of Representatives.
One of the clearest cases takes place, precisely, in Argentine Patagonia, where Beijing has built a space station with ironclad security measures that the US government fears could serve to carry out espionage work.
In addition, the Pentagon is accusing China of supporting the “autocratic regimes” of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, which are contrary to US interests.
Tehran’s influence has long been a concern for the US, a situation that can now be exacerbated by the growing tension between the two countries in the Persian Gulf.
“Iran is the first sponsoring country of terrorism around the world and its Lebanese Hezbollah henchmen are raising funds illegally all over the world, including in Central America,” denounced Faller during his confirmation hearing before the Senate at the end of last year.
Washington has been denouncing for years the support that Tehran provides Cuba and Venezuela, which in turn, according to US authorities, help that country to clean money obtained through drug trafficking networks.
In the document sent to the Lower Chamber, Faller also warned that in recent times Iran has sought to give a new impetus to its influence in the region and cited as an example the growing influence of “anti-American means in Spanish.”