BUENOS AIRES – The Argentine government will give a reward worth millions to whoever finds the submarine ARA San Juan, which disappeared last Nov. 15 in the Atlantic Ocean with 44 crew members aboard, and whose families were received Tuesday by President Mauricio Macri.
“He’s going to offer a reward worth millions. He said that, but apart from that he can’t say anything. It’s what we expected,” Itati Leguizamon, wife of sonar operator German Oscar Suarez, told the press at the doors of the Casa Rosada, office of the presidency in Buenos Aires where the president met with the families.
Most relatives of the crew came from the city of Mar del Plata, where the sub was based and where it should have arrived from the southern port of Ushuaia, but on that route all traces of it were lost.
Marcela Moyano, wife of Chief Petty Officer Hernan Rodriguez, spoke of the “sensation” of being “face to face” with Macri making her plea: “I told him there are families suffering a lot of pain and uncertainty, and that he, Mr. President, must commit himself. And if he takes on the commitment, we will find the 44.”
The relatives’ goal is to make sure the search never stops, which for weeks had the collaboration of countries like the United States and the UK, but at present has only the help of Russia.
The families, who presented the head of state with a document outlining their requests, asked that private companies be included in the effort and that the perimeter of the search be widened.
“They listened to us. The feeling is that we’ll go away thinking they could do everything we asked them to. And waiting to see if they do. We’ve asked that the search be extended toward the north,” said Luisa Rodriguez, a relative of Petty Officer Ricardo Gabriel Alfaro.
Before and after the meeting with Macri and government officials, the families were at the doors the Casa Rosada with banners and flags demanding justice.
After the meeting, Argentine Defense Minister Oscar Aguad said that next week the amount of the reward will be published, and did not dismiss the possibility that it might be around $4 million.
The search for the submarine in the Atlantic, fruitless up to now, is limited to 430 kilometers (267 miles) off the Patagonian coast, around an area where international agencies say they detected an explosion hours after the submarine disappeared, and close to where it sent its last communication.