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Uruguay: Head of US Southern Command not welcome by Uruguay's leading labor grouping

Uruguay's labor grouping Pit-Cnt Monday objected to the presence in the South American country of General Laura Richardson, head of the US Southern Command, it was reported in Montevideo.

“The working people do not welcome you,” the Pit-Cnt said. “The objective of her visit is the interest in fresh water and the possibility of creating a military base in Uruguayan territory,” the union went on.

Richardson is to stay in Uruguay from Feb. 5 to 8 to “meet with senior government officials and military leaders and discuss the bilateral defense partnership between the US and Uruguay,” according to the US embassy. The four-star general's agenda also includes attending events focused on the Uruguayan Armed Forces' support for world peace and regional stability, it was explained.

The workers' association also mentioned the US interest in the Guarani Aquifer, one of the largest freshwater reserves in the world shared by Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay, as well as in rare land resources such as lithium, oil, copper, and gold, in addition to the possible creation of a military base in Uruguayan territory to counteract China's influence in the region. Richardson is also to thank the Government of President Luis Lacalle Pou for abstaining in the UN from asking for a ceasefire in Gaza.

“We repudiate the visit of someone who considers Latin America her backyard,” the Pit-Cnt insisted. The General was dubbed “a representative of the empire that carried out the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria, and Yemen with millions of dead.”

“The visit of Laura Richardson, representative of a country that tries to set itself up as the hegemon of the world, is not good news nor is it welcome for the Uruguayan workers,” a statement from the Pit-Cnt also read.

Meanwhile, Defense Minister Javier García has been reported to be interested in capitalizing on Richardson's visit to secure the purchase of weapons, trucks, and maritime radars from the United States. García also views Richardson's presence as a sign of the deepening of the relations between the two countries. García told Montevideo's El País that he hopes that this good relationship will be reflected in the negotiations he is leading for the purchase of armaments, trucks, and maritime radars at a lower price than those available on the market.

García pointed out that the two countries have a “joint working relationship” and that over the almost four years of the current government, they have “deepened the link,” which has allowed progress in “cooperation in military materials” under the Foreign Military Sales system. The Uruguayan Army is particularly interested in 60 trucks to renew its fleet. “We have trucks that are, no longer at their limit, but tied up with wire. We need to renew the vehicle fleet that is used in the daily missions of logistical transfer of Army personnel. We are absolutely in a critical situation,” García explained. According to Infobae, this operation is still at the price negotiation stage.