Argentina’s intention of having the Falklands/Malvinas sovereignty issue included in the agenda of the Americas Defense ministers’ conference currently taking place in Uruguay was rejected, mainly because of the positions from the US, Canada and several Caribbean states.
The issue had been debated by an ad hoc committee during the weekend by South American countries on the initiative from Argentina with the purpose of creating “a peace zone in the South Atlantic”.
“These are formal issues but also make, somehow to the essence of the real issues” said laconically Uruguayan Deputy Defense minister Jorge Menendez and pro-tempore secretary of the Xth Ministers of Defense from the Americas Conference which is being held under strict security measures in the Atlantic seaside resort of Punta del Este.
Among the participants of the conference is US Secretary of Defense and former CIA chief Leon Panetta who agreed with Uruguayan authorities to upgrade a bilateral accord on defense cooperation dating back to 1953.
“The agreement will modernize the framework for a future cooperation in defense between the US and Uruguay” said the Pentagon spokesperson George Little following a meeting of Panetta with Uruguay’s defense minister Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro.
“Uruguay is crucial partner of the US in defence affairs”, said Little.
At the opening ceremony Minister Fernandez Huidobro called for world peace and criticized the Inter-American defence system as outdated and belonging to another era.
“I belong to a generation that was born and grew up under the nuclear threat and current technology can destroy in seconds any vestige of life on the planet” said Fernandez Huidobro who added that the Inter American Defence Board created in 1942, the same year he was born, “is an old institution, as I’m old and was born at a time when very ugly things were happening in the world”.
But nowadays there are two worlds, “the rich and the poor, but these two spheres have left behind the old concept of prosperous north and underdeveloped south”.
“There is no longer a south versus a north, because in the south there is a north and in the north there is a south; no offence but we could think about the Bronx”, said the Uruguayan official.
The Uruguayan minister identified economic inequality “as the great problem underlying and over flying all the other problems and, all the military in the world are not going to be enough to solve it” because it is not, and can not be, a military problem”.
He questioned the global financial system as one of the greatest “trans-national delinquency organizations worse than those trafficking drugs, weapons, people, human organs, toxic residues and terrorism”.
“There is no better and greater product to which we must be committed than to peace, trans-national, national, hemispheric and world peace”.
Finally if Uruguay is the world’s main contributor per capita to peace missions “it is because there is war or has been…and huge military spending”, said the minister.
Besides Leon Panetta and Fernandez Huidobro, other ministers include Peter McKay from Canada; Guillermo Galván, Mexico; Brazil, Celso Amorim; Argentina, Arturo Puricelli; Chile, Andres Allmand; Ecuador, Rodrigo Carvajal; Juan Carlos Pinzón, Colombia; Pedro Cateriano, Peru; Maria Liz Garcia, Paraguay and Jean Rodolphe from Haiti. Venezuela sent a delegate but not with formal Defence representation.
The official agenda includes natural disasters, peace missions and hemispheric security.
The next conference is to be held in Peru, and the following in Jamaica. The previous defence ministers’ conference took place in Bolivia.