2011 Argentina–United States diplomatic crisis

The 2011 Argentina–United States diplomatic crisis was caused by the temporary seizure of materials from a US military plane, followed by claims that the US may have been trying to smuggle weapons and drugs into the country.

The event

Before the scandal, Argentina and the United States had made an agreement, allowing the US to train members of the Federal Police of Argentina and bring the required materials for doing so. However, when the American Boeing C-17 arrived to Argentina, it was subjected to a detailed scrutiny, led by the Argentine minister of foreign relations, Héctor Timerman, and the minister of transport, Juan Pablo Schiavi, and with people from the airport police, national customs and the AFIP. Timerman opened a box with pliers, and seized it. He claimed that the flight was attempting to smugle undeclared weapons and drugs.[1] The seized materials included heavy guns, materials to intercept phone calls, and drugs. A member of the Federal Police explained to the Clarín newspaper that those things are standard tools in counter-terrorism operations.[2]

The C-17 returned to the United States, without the seized materials. Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, asked Timerman for the reasons to do that with a mission which had been already arranged.[2] Barack Obama, who usually ignored Argentina, requested that the contents of the box should be returned to the US,[3] and wondered why the national minister of foreign relations would personally lead the search and seizure.[2]

A judiciary case investigated the whole operation, and did not find any crime.[4] The scandal led the US to reduce the number of joint military activities with Argentina.[1]


  1. 1 2 Mendelevich, p. 31
  2. 1 2 3 Ramy Wurfgat (February 14, 2011). "Encontronazo diplomático de EEUU y Argentina por el cargamento de un avión" [Diplomatic crisis between the United States and Argentina, caused by the contents of a plane] (in Spanish). El Mundo. Retrieved September 30, 2014.
  3. Mendelevich, p. 33
  4. Mendelevich, p. 32


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