When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Enjoy unlimited access to quality journalism.

Limited time offer

Get your 30-day free trial!

A report says US military advisors were carrying a cargo of hallocenogenic drugs when they arrived in Argentina to train local police.

Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and US Vice President Joe Biden, in 2009 (Nirava Micky)

EYES INSIDELATIN AMERICA

A US air force plane with a mysterious cargo that landed in Buenos Aires last week is become a swelling blister in relations between the United States and Argentina. The Boeing C-17 aircraft was carrying material and equipment to be used in a training course on hostage negotiations run by US military advisors for the Argentinean federal police force. But when customs inspected the plane last Thursday, they found items on board that were not on the pre-approved official list of material and equipment agreed to by both countries. After 48 hours, the plane returned to the United States empty.

On February 13, noted journalist Horacio Verbitsky writing in Buenos Aires-based Página 12 reported that a suitcase was confiscated containing "hallucinogenic drugs," antidotes and pen drives with secret codes. In the exclusive story, bannered with the headline "Obama's Suitcase," Verbitsky writes that materials had the official seal of a paratroopers brigade of North Carolina.

Government sources told La Nación that the confiscated material and equipment would not be returned anytime soon and could possibly be destroyed. "This is the typical procedure for all items seized," said one source.

In Washington, a State Department official said the United States was "perplexed" by the seizure and said the US government would not apologize as some Buenos Aires officials have demanded. "These items, as we have said before, were routine materials that would normally be brought into a country during a training program of this nature, and we believe these items were inappropriately seized," said State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley on Wednesday. Dow Jones News Wires was told by a State Department source that medication belonging to an army medic was the drug in question, and it hadn't been declared.

Writing in La Nación , columnist Joaquin Morales Solá said the conflict is the worst seen in bilateral relations since the restoration of democracy in Argentina in 1983. Solá reported that when Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman went to Ezeiza airport at the time of the seizure, he told the US military officers: "Shut up! I will only speak to the ambassador. Tell her to phone me if she has anything to say!"

On Tuesday, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner defended her country's sovereignty and said that decisions concerning the confiscation and destruction of the items would be made by her and not by Washington.

But the origins of the spat may be elsewhere. According to Clarín, the government of Fernández felt it was snubbed by President Obama who decided to skip Argentina during his first Latin America tour late next month, which will take him to Brazil, Chile and El Salvador.

Buenos Aires is also smarting over the recent revelations by the WikiLeaks cables that show US diplomats commenting about alleged corruption during the past government of the president's late husband, Néstor Kirchner, and speculating about Cristina Fernández's own mental health.

Martin Delfín

Worldcrunch

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

Society

Lionel To Lorenzo: Infecting My Son With The Beautiful Suffering Of Soccer Passion

This is the Argentine author's fourth world cup abroad, but his first as the father of two young boys.

photo of Lionel Messi saluting the crowd

Argentina's Lionel Messi celebrates the team's win against Australia at the World Cup in Qatar

Ignacio Pereyra

I love soccer. But that’s not the only reason why the World Cup fascinates me. There are so many stories that can be told through this spectacular, emotional, exaggerated sport event, which — like life and parenthood — is intense and full of contradictions.

This is the fourth World Cup that I’m watching away from my home country, Argentina. Every experience has been different but, at times, Qatar 2022 feels a lot like Japan-South Korea 2002, the first one I experienced from abroad, when I was 20 years old and living in Spain.

Now, two decades later, living in Greece as the father of two children, some of those memories are reemerging vividly.

Keep reading...Show less

You've reached your limit of free articles.

To read the full story, start your free trial today.

Get unlimited access. Cancel anytime.

Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.

Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries.

The latest