The distraught loved-ones of the 44 officers missing onboard the ARA San Juan submarine which disappeared two weeks ago have called for a face-to-face meeting with President Mauricio Macri so they could discuss the rationale behind the Navy’s decision to reduce its search efforts.
To ease tensions, Defence Minister Oscar Aguad visited the Mar del Plata Naval Base with Navy Chief Marcelo Eduardo Hipólito Srur on Friday afternoon. The dramatic disappearance has been a particular embarrassment for the Navy with relatives accusing its hierarchy of incompetence, abandonment and corruption.
But on Friday they had strong words for the man whom they had originally called on to defend them: the President. “The President (Mauricio Macri) has no idea what he’s saying. He should show his face. Why won’t he come and speak to the families? We’re waiting for him and Minister (Oscar) Aguad”, Alicia, the wife of one of the missing officers, told the A24 news channel.
Macri received strong criticism on social media, and from his political opponents, for having appeared at the Navy base where relatives were monitoring the situation in track pants. The government is rumoured to be planning an overhaul of the Armed Forces, while the opposition continues putting pressure on Minister Aguad and his inexperienced inner-circle. Opposition lawmakers want Aguad to testify before Congress.
In another recent crisis for the government, the disappearance and death of the artisan Santiago Maldonado, Macri was criticised for only reaching out to the young man’s family two days prior to the election once his body had appeared, while at the same audio emerged of telephone polling allegedly commissioned by his PRO party which asked voters how the case would affect their voting intention.