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Montevideo, June 13th 2024 - 00:27 UTC



Gen. Richardson warns of dangers of China's LatAm expansion

Friday, May 10th 2024 - 19:35 UTC
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Security and economic stability go “hand in hand,” Richardson insisted Security and economic stability go “hand in hand,” Richardson insisted

US Southern Command (Southcom) Chief General Laura Richardson warned during her appearance Thursday at the Ninth Hemispheric Security Conference (HSC) at the Florida International University (FIU) Miami campus, organized by the Jack D. Gordon Institute for Public Policy together with the Taeda Foundation that China's growing influence in building critical infrastructure in Latin America had raised security concerns. In addition, the region hardly benefits “from the resources that China extracts,” the four-star general stressed.

She also highlighted the importance of competition in constructing and operating critical infrastructure with neighboring countries to combat organized crime.

Richardson pointed out that China's growing influence through building critical infrastructure such as large-size seaports was giving Beijing additional access to valuable Latin American natural resources at the expense of local interests. “The first mega-port that China made in Latin America is only going to make it easier for the Chinese to extract all these resources from the region,” she stressed. Although Latin America produces large amounts of globally essential inputs, the region is far from benefiting from these resources, she also noted.

The high-ranking military officer also recalled that Latin America had suffered various cyber attacks lately, which weakened critical information networks. She then advised local governments to keep critical infrastructure such as port cargo scanning systems off Chinese hands. government.

“Why is there so much focus on critical infrastructure in this hemisphere by the Chinese?” Richardson wondered. “We are concerned about potential military applications,” she added while insisting on the need for international cooperation to meet the challenges posed by China's technological and economic expansion in the region while promoting democratic alternatives in cybersecurity that protect human rights and confidential data.

“Twenty-one countries in the region signed different agreement initiatives with China!” the general went on. She also underlined that security and economic stability went “hand in hand.” She thus warned against authoritarian maneuvers of people using “democracy to get into power and then to dismantle it.”

Given China's initiative, major US companies have been urged to compete for these international contracts to build critical infrastructure. “We have to go out into the field to compete for these contracts in the countries where they are being considered,” Richardson argued while recalling that China had three scientific stations, two of them at home and the other in Argentina.

Richardson also admitted that Southcom was “closely watching the flooding in Brazil.” In her opinion, “climate change is impacting the entire region.”

The general's view on security coincided with London's announcement that the United Kingdom's next Ambassador to Asunción -Danielle Dunne- majored in policing and terrorism. Paraguay's President Santiago Peña also participated in the HSC event. His country is notorious for the so-called Triple Border with Argentina and Brazil, where terrorism is said to have been grouping for years.

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