In a clear sign of the new carnal relations with the United States, Argentina’s libertarian President Javier Milei flew to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world, to meet with the head of the US Southern Command, General Laura Richardson, who opposes the construction of a Chinese-owned port in the region and wants to guarantee the exploitation of lithium and other minerals for US companies.

Both the US ambassador to Argentina, Marc Stanley, and Richardson have interfered in domestic affairs without official restraint, even falsely claiming that there was a “Chinese military base” in Neuquén. “I’m surprised that Argentina would allow that,” said Stanley.

Another key US interest is to boycott the Chinese space station in Neuquén province, known as the CLTC-CONAE-Neuquén Deep Space Station. Argentina has signed an agreement with China for scientific use and, at Richardson’s suggestion, the government said shortly before the general’s arrival that it now intended to “review” it.

Despite the suspicions and the media campaign, the United States has so far been unable to produce any evidence that China is using the station for anything other than scientific purposes. Nevertheless, the administration has promised to conduct a “technical review” of the agreement with China because “there are strange things in the treaty”, such as the fact that Argentina allegedly does not have access to the base.

In January 2023, Richardson had outlined a kind of roadmap of US interests in the region at the Atlantic Council, a think tank linked to NATO. “Why is Latin America important?” was the rhetorical question with which she opened her presentation, in which she highlighted the region’s “rich resources and rare earths”: she highlighted the lithium triangle, a strategic area shared by Argentina, Bolivia and Chile, which she said represented “60 per cent of the world’s lithium”.

Richardson also said that “we have 31% of the world’s fresh water in this region”. With this inventory, the SOUTHCOM chief said her country has “a lot of work to do”. “We have to start playing our game,” she said.

Even before Richardson arrived, Ambassador Stanley had been pressing the issue. “I am surprised that Argentina is allowing Chinese forces to operate in Neuquén,” she had said in an interview with La Nación, in a direct intervention in Argentine sovereign decisions.

The Chinese embassy immediately responded to Stanley and, more importantly, to Casa Rosada’s position: “The Far Space Station in Neuquén is a space technology cooperation facility. Scientists from Argentina and China can use this station for scientific research”.

He also recalled that “in 2019, the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Commission for Space Activities (CONAE) coordinated the visit of a delegation of diplomatic representatives, including from the United States, to the station. All this fully demonstrates the civilian nature and the open and transparent operating model of the station”.

“It is barbaric for the ambassador to have made the statements he did, and above all, it is barbaric for the government to have allowed such interference,” said former Defence Minister Agustín Rossi, who also recalled that the US Southern Command had contributed its funds to the construction of a civil defence base in Neuquén.

Lithium and freshwater

It is not the Chinese, but the Americans, who are working on the construction of two military bases in Argentina: one in the Chaco and the other in Neuquén, following an agreement that will allow their Army Corps of Engineers to control the strategic Paraná River. If these bases come to fruition, they will be at the service of a global plan of domination and hegemony, articulated with the 32 NATO allies, like the 800 US bases around the world.

Richardson arrived in the country with two central concerns: the progress of the construction of the Antarctic Logistics Pole in Tierra del Fuego, with a view to the possible participation of China in its financing, of which the US has so far provided no evidence; and the interference and boycott of the space base maintained by the Chinese government in the province of Neuquén.

A US flag flew for hours from the mast of the Ushuaia naval base, raised by Argentine military personnel to welcome the head of the US Southern Command, General Laura Richardson, who was visiting Tierra del Fuego to inquire about China’s alleged interest in financing the construction of the Antarctic logistics pole, one of her latest obsessions.

After travelling more than three thousand kilometres from Buenos Aires, President Javier Milei, Defence Minister Luis Petri, his sister Karina Milei and Chief of Cabinet Nicolás Posse arrived at the “end of the world” to get a photo with Richardson. They had met 24 hours earlier at Government House, but Milei was absent and felt the need to demonstrate his alignment with US interests, even though it was almost midnight.

In Ushuaia, he was greeted by protests from former Falklands War veterans who were waiting for him to denounce the surrender of Argentine sovereignty. This must have been unacceptable for a president. After midnight, Milei gave a press conference in which he praised the United States, claiming a “natural affinity” and asserting that he shared “the ideas of freedom” and “a vision of the world” with Washington. He also confirmed that the country would continue the work of the Logistics Pole.


The Logistics Pole posed a threat to US interests in Antarctica because, according to Richardson, China is “trying to secure the rights to build dual-use maritime facilities that would support the projection of support and power in the vicinity of the Strait of Magellan, which would give the Asian country access to the Antarctic region.

However, the only port in the area is that of Río Grande, which would be more than advantageous for the country, as it would provide a maritime link between that city and Río Gallegos, facilitating the country’s control of the Argentinean sea, as well as improving the traceability of routes to Antarctica and boosting its industrial technology centre.

Today, the main interested party is the technology company Mirgor, part of the Caputo group, which is waiting for the national government’s approval to begin construction.

The general is playing down the hypothesis of a conflict with China over this multi-purpose port in order to secure another type of interest: if it is built, Argentina will have a port that it does not have today, 600 km away in a straight line with the Malvinas Islands. For the time being, the British occupation of the islands gives them a degree of control over the Atlantic, while the US controls the Pacific. And neither wants to change this geopolitical status quo.

The US-Argentina Chamber of Commerce lobby, AmCham, strongly supports the liberal government. AmCham has 622 companies that directly employ 360,000 people and account for 18.6% of GDP, 38% of tax revenues, 24% of imports and 28% of exports.

Economist Horacio Rovelli recalled that JP Morgan Chase’s main shareholders are Vanguard Group, BlackRock, State Street Corporation, Morgan Stanley and Fidelity Fund. Most of the companies associated with AmCham, the hedge funds (BlackRock, Vanguard, Fidelity, PIMCO – Allianz, Franklin Templeton, Gramercy; Greylock, etc.) participate as partners and/or financiers of the companies and have a lot of power in Argentina’s semi-colonial structure.


The appetite for Argentina’s wealth, especially lithium and other minerals, has already been made clear by General Laura Richardson, head of the Southern Command. She was there in 2022 and met with Vice-President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and in 2023 with Defence Minister Jorge Taiana. This time, she met with Defence Minister Luis Petri and Chief of Cabinet Nicolás Posse before travelling to Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world and a geostrategic location of great interest to the US.

“Today, the best way to defend our sovereignty and successfully face these problems is precisely to strengthen our strategic alliance with the United States and with all the countries of the world that defend the cause of freedom,” Milei asserted in his particular concept of sovereignty.

One of the speculations surrounding Milei’s whirlwind trip is that he undertook it to make amends to the general after the governor of Tierra de Fuego, Gustavo Melella, refused to receive her with honours in his province.

“We are not going to receive formally, officially or in any way the head of the United States Southern Command because they are carrying out military exercises with Great Britain in the South Atlantic,” he had said at the Monument to the Fallen in the Malvinas, when Richardson had already confirmed Tierra del Fuego as part of his itinerary.

Milei decided that Ushuaia was the ideal venue for the meeting, which had not been possible 24 hours earlier at the Casa Rosada, when the government confirmed the signing of an agreement to buy 24 fighter planes from none other than… Denmark, a NATO ally. Denmark, a NATO ally of the United States, a deal brokered by the US ambassador, Marc Stanley, which had as its counterpart the cancellation of a latent agreement by the previous government to buy the same weapons from China.

From the moment he assumed the Argentine presidency in 1989, Carlos Saúl Menem proposed a change in relations with the United States, giving priority to “carnal relations”, a term popularised by the phrase coined by Foreign Minister Guido Di Tella.

It is true that he achieved a certain consensus on this foreign policy, which was more aligned with Washington, but he had many internal critics, especially with the expressions of rejection of the visits of Presidents George Bush (1990) and Bill Clinton (1997), the mobilisations against the invasion of Iraq (2003) and the actions against Bush Jr. and the FTAA (2005).

In this period of three lustrums, which saw the beginning, the rise and the fall of this close alignment with Washington, the expressions of resistance were important. Today, 35 years later, Milei’s ultra-right government wants to return to this kind of relationship.