President Mauricio Macri will meet today with the family members of the ARA San Juan submarine crew, missing since November 15, 2017. The meeting comes at a time of heavy criticism from the families towards the national government, a result of what they consider to be a lack of effort to find the vessel, or at least confirm what happened to it.
“What we will ask him is for the pace of the search to be increased, and to stand by the promises that were made to us,” María Victoria Morales, mother of Luis García, told La Nación.
The family members will officially request for the government to offer a reward to civilian ships that join the search, food and fuel for fishing ships that have already offered to sweep the area where the submarine could be, and to finalize the deal with with a private company to join the search in order to redouble the efforts.
Macri had already met with the family members of the crew at the end of November, when he paid them a brief visit at the Navy’s Mar del Plata base, where they have been staying since the submarine went missing. Back then, he told them the state would search for the vessel “until the last consequences.”
However, the relatives consider the administration is not doing all that it should. “We have been lied to, and a lot,” one of them told La Nación.
Currently, only a Russian mission which comes in the form of the Yantar ship and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Panther Plus continues helping the navy in the search. On January 2, the family members released a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin thanking Moscow for the assistance provided and pleading with him to maintain Russian support for the search operation “until the end.” However, the aid is set to end in March, Infobae reported.
Taking this into account, the government has already started exploring different alternatives, some of which coincide with the relatives’ demands, namely, the possibility of hiring private companies with the necessary technology to visually inspect the sea floor, be it with an ROV or a manned mini-submarine.
The search is being carried out by the ARA Sarandí destroyer, the Spiro and Robinson corvettes, the ARA Islas Malvinas with the Panther Plus on board as well as the Yantar. The ARA San Blas is in the area to resupply the ARA Islas Malvinas.
In a recent contact with press, Navy spokesperson Enrique Balbi revealed that family members have been allowed on the ships conducting the search operation, and that one of them claims to have ‘extra sensory powers’. “That person pinpointed a quadrant, north of the search area, and the Robinson combed the area to rule out any contacts,” he said.