‘No to Yankee base!’ Locals rally against US installation in Argentina Argentinian protesters and indigenous rights activists believe the US is secretly setting up a military base in the Neuquen province under the guise of an emergency relief center, and fear it’ll be used to influence local affairs.

Footage shot by RT’s video agency Ruptly shows protesters holding signs declaring ‘No to the ‘Yankee Base’ and ‘US out of Neuquen,’ as they marched through the eponymous capital of Argentina’s western province on Saturday.

The anti-base campaigners have been rallying in the province, which borders Chile, since June after Washington announced plans to build an Emergency Operations Center (EOC) near the Neuquen city airport. According to the US embassy, the 6,458-square-feet (600 square meters) compound members of the local Civil Defense and other relief workers, as well as store aid provided by the US to Argentina, such as tents and six-wheel-drive vehicles. The construction of the facility will cost $1.3 million, and is set be completed in a year.

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The provincial authorities have hailed the project as an example of US-Argentinian cooperation, but locals fear that Washington will ultimately use the facility for political influence and power projection.

The protests are being directed by the Multi-Sectorial Group for Territorial Sovereignty (MSTS), a coalition encompassing 60 NGOs. They are joined by local labor activists and the Mapuche natives, who have a longstanding feud with the government over land and indigenous rights.

“We believe that it is a covert mission to create a base here, to then install something military,” Hugo Lagos, a Mapuche community leader, told Ruptly video agency. He added that US efforts to build a facility are sparking “outrage” among the locals. The same arguments have been voiced by locals against plans by Beijing to build a space-monitoring base in Neuquen, which would be operated by the Chinese Army.

Provincial officials, as well as the US diplomats, have emphasized that the facility will serve as an “evacuation center” during emergencies. However, campaigners find this hard to believe. “In the case they wanted to protect us from catastrophes, it would be logical for the base not to be installed in the Neuquen area, which is not a zone of volcanic eruptions or earthquakes,” MSTS in a statement, quoted by Telesur.

MSTS activist Micaela Gomis told Ruptly that the protesters suspect the base will instead be used by soldiers and special-ops forces. “This is a direct intervention by the US Southern Command. We know their history. We know that they were behind all the genocidal dictatorships in Latin America,” she argued. “This has to do with the geopolitical disputes in Latin America. There is no way we will believe them when they mask military intervention with humanitarian aid.”

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