Some 1,000 American troops and aircraft based in Uruguay are on alert to protect President Trump as he attends the G20 summit in Argentina this week.
The protection for Trump, who will do a 48-hour diplomatic blitz of high-level meetings with foreign leaders at the summit, was assured after the Uruguayan government approved the entry of American troops after much debate in the country.
Earlier this month, Uruguay’s Senate approved a law that allowed the U.S. to deploy its military in the country as an effort to provide security for the G20 summit.
The bill authorized the entry into Uruguay of three U.S. fuel cargo aircraft, two transport aircraft and three AWACS planes as well as 400 U.S. military personnel and civilians who would be the crew and provide support and maintenance.
But the measure didn’t pass without any controversy, with Uruguay’s left-wing groups and trade unions speaking out about the presence of American troops, deeming them a risk to Uruguay’s safety.
“The armed forces of the United States have not been and will not be welcome in Latin America,” said Constanza Moreira, a left-wing politician, who eventually voted in favor of the bill.
“I am against it. They didn’t give me freedom of action. This is what I call the club of the rich. We don’t support rich clubs. Uruguay has nothing to do with the G20. I do not understand why Uruguay is being used as a base of operations,” she added, according to left-leaning People’s Dispatch.
One of the largest trade unions in the country, PIT-CNT, also released a statement opposing the presence of American troops, claiming they represented “a risk to national sovereignty” and that it didn’t make sense logistically as the summit will be held in neighboring Argentina.
At the G20 summit, Trump has jam-packed eight meetings with foreign leaders, but on Thursday he announced that he will cancel a meeting with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin over Russia’s tensions with Ukraine after the Russian military seized three Ukrainian naval ships.
The White House also said the meetings with the leaders of Turkey and South Korea would be substituted with informal conversations, while a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will be held jointly with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.