Admiral Craig Faller, commander of the Southern Command of the US Armed Forces (SouthCom), put on Thursday the end of its tour of Argentina and Chile, two key countries in a region whose values, according to the military, are threatened by the growing interference of “external actors” such as China, Russia and Iran.
“The main threat facing this region is the threat to our values,” Admiral Faller, who this week has held numerous meetings with representatives of the Governments of Chile and Argentina, told EFE.
The American did not hesitate to point to China, Russia and Iran as the main “external actors” who want to interfere in the development of the continent, and Venezuela as the country whose crisis threatens regional stability.
“The China issue arose and the issue of Venezuela also emerged, because if you look at the security threats, they all converge in Venezuela,” he acknowledged.
The US military stressed that the situation of the oil country affects very directly the other nations of the continent due to the flow of people seeking refuge in other countries and the fact that the current crisis favors criminal activities.
“If you look at the case of Venezuela and the impact of the arrival of refugees, in Chile there are some 400,000 and in Argentina they are close to 200,000, which represents a challenge for local infrastructures, police forces and even the army, “he said.
Regarding China, Admiral Faller lamented that “a power that aspires to be considered a great power” is not acting in a “very positive” way in South America.
For a long time, USA sees with concern how the Asian giant is increasing its influence and its presence in the continent, mainly through a large investment.
The admiral himself has insisted these days, in various forums, that Chinese investment tends to take place in “unfavorable” conditions for the recipients of their funds, which in the end supposes a “threat” to their sovereignty.
In the case of Chile, for example, China has become its main trading partner and exchanges with the Asian country account for 30% of the total foreign trade of the Andean nation, with special prominence of mining exports, which reached its peak. maximum historic in 2018.
Despite warnings from Washington, on Wednesday, during an interview with Efe, Chile’s defense minister, Alberto Espina, assured that his country would “never” cede its sovereignty to China.
“Our country, in the relations it has with the US and with China – and particularly, as you ask me, with China – are relations in which Chile never gives up its sovereignty or its territorial integrity, because that It is a principle of a State policy of our country, “said the official.
In any case, this Thursday, US military stressed that China and Venezuela were not the issues that monopolized the conversation with their interlocutors these days.
“We only speak from the point of view of the intelligence and the facts that our reports show us, but I do not ask other nations to choose or to judge, that is not my role,” Faller said.
The US military stressed that one of the main reasons for his visit has been to better understand the needs of these countries with which the United States shares “values” and that, therefore, the conversation focused on more technical aspects, such as cybersecurity , joint operations and peace missions.
“What I have focused on is what we can offer them, from a military relationship point of view, unrivaled training, unparalleled education and unbeatable equipment (…) That’s the alternative that I I can offer, we want to be your partners by choice, “he concluded.
Finally, the commander stressed the importance of the military relationship that exists between most countries in the region and cited as an example the maneuvers Fuerza Comando and UNITAS, two important military exercises in which troops from different nations of the continent participate. and whose celebration has coincided these days in Chile.