Cristina at the helm for ARA Libertad grand welcome party in Mar del Plata
The frigate ARA Libertad is already in Argentine waters and is scheduled to arrive Wednesday to the port of Mar del Plata, escorted by dozens of yachts and other vessels, to a huge reception ceremony headed by President Cristina Fernandez, ministers and top officials.
The Argentine navy flagship spent 78 days impounded in Tema, Ghana on request from a New York court ruling which benefited hedge funds claiming payment of Argentine sovereign bonds. The controversy was finally sorted out at the Hamburg based UN Law of the Sea court that ordered the immediate release of the Argentine Navy training vessel.
According to the Argentine ministry of defence the ARA Libertad sailing at 7.5 knots entered jurisdictional waters early dawn Tuesday.
Monday evening she was welcomed and escorted by the Uruguayan navy frigate “Uruguay” while sailing the River Plate. Uruguay’s Minister of Defence Eleuterio Fernandez Huidobro has anticipated his attendance to the reception ceremony in Mar del Plata.
Meanwhile the port is being prepared for the massive ceremony including dredging (fears of sand silting) and maintenance and restoration work of two statues one of them the patron saint of Mar del Plata fishermen.
Just in case ARA Libertad will sail in at high tide Wednesday evening, nothing can spoil the welcome party.
The reception however will have a clear political colour, the vindication of Argentine sovereignty which is under constant threat from hedge funds (or vulture funds).
When the retention of ARA Libertad in Ghana, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman revealed Argentina faced over twenty similar attempted impoundments and President Cristina Fernandez who later this week flies to the Far East on a trade mission will be doing so in a rented aircraft fearing Tango 01 might suffer an injunction.
To further emphasize the political intention of the ceremony, the whole event is organized directly by the Executive, in great secrecy and with no active participation of the Argentine Navy.
A militant group of supporters had already displayed in the port area a huge poster, and distributed flyers, showing Cristina Fernandez in an epic posture at the helm of a vessel in the midst of a storm with her left arm indicating the course and a base line which reads: “We the wind/ Motherland the vessel and in capital letters, CRISTINA CAPTAIN”.
President Cristina Fernandez is expected to board the frigate when she docks, where she will receive full honours by Captain Lucio Pablo Salonio and the crew. The 69 naval cadets that were on their final year training course and had to be flown out of Ghana when the impoundment is not clear if they will be formed at the jetty or will be boarding ARA Libertad previously to comply with the full picture.
Fire works and an artistic show open to the public will follow.