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Montevideo, June 17th 2024 - 15:46 UTC



Unauthorized US Coast Guard ship sparks controversy in Montevideo

Monday, April 29th 2024 - 10:50 UTC
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Uruguay's opposition parties underlined the ruling Multicolor coalition's alleged disregard for the Constitution Uruguay's opposition parties underlined the ruling Multicolor coalition's alleged disregard for the Constitution

The US Coast Guard cutter James docked in the port of Montevideo Friday sparking a controversy among local politicians because the executive had forgotten to require the congressional acquiescence needed for the presence of any foreign-flagged military unit in the country.

Opposition Senator Alejandro Sanchez of the Broad Front (Frente Amplio - FA) demanded the resignation of Ministers of Defense (Armando Castaingdebat) and Foreign Affairs (Omar Paganini) “for not having complied with the Constitution of the Republic.”

“We have to ultimately demand that they leave their post because they have not done what they had to do, which is to enforce the Constitution of the Republic and the sovereignty of the country,” he said during a tribute to the late Tupamaros National Liberation Movement fighter and founder Raúl Bebe Sendic.

The US vessel was open to the public for visits on Saturday despite lacking the Congressional clearance. Uruguay's Defense Ministry sent a note to Parliament admitting to the “procedural error” and insisted that given that issue the vessel would only perform “protocol” duties as well as “the normal refueling and resupplying” while refraining from engaging in any joint drill with Uruguay's Armed Forces.

According to the US Embassy in Montevideo, this Coast Guard vessel performs “multiple missions in the South Atlantic Ocean, exercising the US Coast Guard's partnership with various host nations to counter illicit maritime activity and promote maritime law enforcement throughout the region” targeting “illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.” In 2021 and 2023 other US Coast Guard vessels visited Montevideo on similar missions, “to help facilitate legal and safe maritime commerce and travel,” the embassy went on.

In the meantime, Uruguay's opposition parties were to determine which course of action to take, including the possible impeachment of the ministers involved. Many leaders also argued that the vessel should have first thing once the procedural glitch was detected.

Named after Joshua James (1826–1902), an American sea captain and a US Life-Saving Service station keeper credited with saving over 600 lives, the vessel is the fifth Legend-class cutter of the United States Coast Guard.

Construction by Huntington Ingalls Industries, Ingalls Shipyard in Pascagoula, Mississippi, began on May 14, 2012, and the James was launched on May 3, 2014. She was christened on August 16, 2014, and commissioned in Boston on August 8, 2015. The James served as a command and control platform in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 2017. The cutter's crew deployed to aid in Hurricane Maria response operations and the ship's communications capabilities were used to help first responders coordinate efforts on the island. On August 8, 2022, she ran aground and was damaged, leading to Captain Marc Brandt's permanent relief of duties as the commanding officer.

The James is also scheduled to participate alongside Argentina's Coast Guard (Prefectura Naval Argentina) in joint operations tackling illegal activities.

Categories: Politics, United States, Uruguay.

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  • MarkWhelan

    Anyone know the boundaries of the USA coastal waters? In my opinion south of Brazil sounds a bit too far below the equator.

    Apr 29th, 2024 - 11:22 am 0
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