Diplomatic Consequences

PUBLISHED: 10:39 AM 28 Jul 2018
UPDATED: 5:22 PM 29 Jul 2018

Separate Latin American ‘Incidents’ Raise Security Fears For Key Officials

Officials in Guatemala and Argentina claim neither event was an attempted assassination, but things got scary for the Director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde and a traveling U.S. envoy.

In Guatemala, shots were fired at a U.S. embassy official. Separately, an American Airlines flight with Christine Lagarde on board lost cabin pressure and was forced to make an emergency landing.

On Sunday, two distinct incidents in Latin America involving U.S. interests and government officials could have had tragic and far-reaching diplomatic consequences, yet the many in the media are strangely quiet. Central and South American officials are assuring their North American counterparts that neither event was an attempted assassination, despite the alarming circumstances of each. Thankfully, nobody was injured in either of the suspicious situations.

In Guatemala, shots were intentionally fired at the car of a U.S. embassy official. Separately, an American Airlines flight leaving Argentina with Christine Lagarde on board suddenly lost cabin pressure and had a fuel leak at the same time, forcing an emergency landing. The International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director is surprisingly fond of President Donald Trump’s economic policies, despite heading the notoriously socialist organization.

Local Guatemalan media are reporting that Sunday evening, “shots were fired” at a vehicle carrying an unnamed “U.S. embassy official” in the southern part of the country. “There were no injuries,” a spokesman for the national police informs.

Officials with the U.S. Embassy confirmed the incident and note that U.S. authorities are cooperating fully with the national police to investigate the matter.

On the surface, “it seems the incident did not have a political motivation, nor was it directed at the embassy,” the national police note.

As the diplomatic vehicle traveled through the city of San Vicente Pacaya, the shots were fired. One report cited by Reuters blames a group of local residents out for vigilante justice, “pursuing those responsible for a crime.”

The police official added that they helped the diplomat home after the smoke cleared. “The Embassy’s secretary was immediately evacuated and accompanied by police to his residence.”

Russian news outlet Sputnik is reporting some additional details. They name the official spokesman as Pablo Castillo and also add “that a woman was killed in the municipality on Sunday, which resulted in a massive search operation.”

Official police officers, not armed vigilantes as the other article reports, were checking “all the vehicles in the area,” as part of the murder investigation.

As Castillo explains, “when the vehicle with the US diplomat refused to stop, one of the officers opened fire at the car.”

Standard operating procedure for all diplomats is never stopping the car for anything. Stopping the car almost always has fatal consequences.

Stopping for goons armed with assault rifles in a country where the government is notoriously corrupt is suicidal. Looks like procedure saved the diplomat’s life.

The convenient story sounds a lot like plausible deniability to some.

Another thing that makes the two events seem connected is the veritable blackout on news from Argentina.

Any tiny flaw or disruption that affects a U.S. passenger-carrying flight, anywhere in the world, immediately goes under the public microscope, but that hasn’t happened this time. Nobody is even explaining what occurred.

Safety agencies like the National Transportation Safety Board are required to make full and public investigations of every incident, even ones that the public would generally consider trivial.

Sudden loss of cabin pressure and fuel, especially on an international flight should be all over the news.

In a bizarre coincidence, the plane which developed sudden holes was carrying at least one very “V.I.P” passenger. American Airlines has not released one word of explanation and the NTSB isn’t talking either.

Christine Lagarde is a French national who was educated in the United States and worked for an American law firm in Europe before becoming Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund.

On her way to the United States from a G-20 meeting attended by the presidents of central banks and world finance ministers in the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires, an in-flight emergency forced the immediate landing of her American Airlines flight.

As related by local Argentine media, not long after taking off from the Ezeiza airport at 8:55 pm, the flight “experienced a drop in cabin pressure about 200 km (124 miles) north of the Argentine capital and returned to Ezeiza to land.”

Naija247news relates that initially, pilots reported a loss of cabin air pressure, then they also learned they had a fuel leak. It seems likely that whatever put a hole in the plane’s skin caused the fuel leak at the same time.

Lagarde just got done giving Argentina a good report card. Despite a recent bump in the country’s inflation, the goals on that marker were attainable.

“We have respect and encouragement for the policies that are being developed by the government of Argentina,” she announced.

Even if the two incidents are totally unrelated, they underscore the need for ever vigilant security.

Lagarde wants to see the United States “reform its tax system, invest in infrastructure programs, overhaul its immigration policies and cut business regulations,” which sounds a lot like what President Trump is trying to accomplish.

“Lagarde’s list seems to align with the priorities of President Donald Trump who was elected on pushing U.S.-first policies rather than the global approach advocated by the IMF,” CNBC reports.

In Guatemala, the biggest threat to the country that lies just south of Mexico is corruption in its government.

Leaders there are not happy that all the gang-banging migrants are being turned around at the U.S. border and sent right back. They aren’t above settling their differences with a well-targeted bullet.

As reported just yesterday by Insight Crime, “The Guatemala Interior Ministry’s decision to remove police assigned to the CICIG, the internationally-backed anti-graft body, is likely a sign that the president has chosen the ministry as his go-to instrument to weaken the CICIG’s efforts against impunity and corruption.”