Alberto Fernández, Between Venezuela And The Anger Of Donald Trump's Envoy – 12/12/2019

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In his first hours as president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández gave clear signs of where his international alignment will come from. Fernández will seek to get along with everyone, but the regimes of Cuba and Venezuela enjoy their sympathy.

His first international audience, yesterday Wednesday, was with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who traveled to Argentina for Fernández's assumption on Tuesday. "We will move forward in mutual cooperation," said the new president, according to a statement from the Argentine government. "We have a brotherhood commitment to Cuba," he added.

Another who was at Casa Rosada to greet Fernández was the Venezuelan Minister of Communications, Jorge Rodríguez, one of the most important officials of the Nicolás Maduro regime. Rodríguez appears in a list of Venezuelan officials sanctioned by international organizations.

With a low profile, the Venezuelan went to greet the president and Foreign Minister Felipe Solá, and then toured several rooms on the first floor of the Casa Rosada next to Marco Henriquez Ominami, the Chilean left leader close to Fernández who coordinates the Puebla group, made up of leaders of the Latin American center-left, ”the newspaper La Nación reported.

Rodriguez's participation in official acts for the change of command in Argentina bothered the special envoy of the president of the United States, Donald Trump, Mauricio Claver-Carona, director for the Western Hemisphere of the National Security Council.

Claver-Carona left Argentina earlier than expected due to the presence of the Maduro regime official, and did not attend Fernández's oath in Congress. Claver-Carone told the Clarín newspaper that he had retired early after "being surprised" by Rodriguez's presence. “Unfortunately, due to some invitations and some surprises we received upon arrival, I decided not to go and leave early. I am not going to have the work meetings I had scheduled for tomorrow (for Wednesday today), ”Claver-Carone told Clarín.

Trump's envoy also said that ties with Maduro "do not bring any benefit to Argentina" and that the country should have as a priority "work bilaterally with us and other allies."

The United States does not recognize Maduro and yes the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó, as president in charge.

Claver-Carone returned on the plane from Alex Azar, Trump's secretary of health. Azar was, formally, who led the delegation of the United States to the assumption of Fernandez, and thus attended the ceremony in Congress.

To file harshness, the Argentine president received Wednesday, after the hearing the Cuban Díaz-Canel, another envoy from the United States. This is Michael G. Kozak, deputy secretary of the State Department for Western Hemisphere affairs.

In its Twitter account, the US Embassy added a photo of both and said the meeting served "to continue working on strengthening the bilateral relationship on issues of interest to both countries and the region."

Kozak told Fernandez "support for the negotiation with the IMF that President Donald Trump had expressed during the telephone conversation they had a few weeks ago," the US embassy said.

Another complicated front that Fernandez has in the region is his relationship with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

Bolsonaro softened his criticisms of the new Government of Argentina on Wednesday and said he hopes it will succeed because it is Brazil's largest trading partner in Latin America.

Jair Bolsonaro, this Monday at an event in Brasilia. Photo: AFP

"Argentina has a lot to offer us and Brazil also has a lot to offer Argentina," Bolsonaro said in a speech to the CNI business union.

The Brazilian president had previously described President Fernández as a “leftist bandit,” but he took a more conciliatory stance since the Argentine took office Tuesday and stressed the importance of relations with Brazil in his swearing speech.

Brazil was the only country that Fernández specifically mentioned in his speech, Bolsonaro said.

“With the Federal Republic of Brazil, in particular, we have to build an ambitious, innovative and creative agenda, in the technological, productive and strategic, that is backed by the historical brotherhood of our peoples and that goes beyond any personal difference of those they govern the situation, ”said Fernández.

Bolsonaro said he would not attend the change of command, but Economy Minister Paulo Guedes and other officials in his cabinet convinced him not to boycott the event, Brazilian media reported. That is why at the last minute he decided to send Vice President Hamilton Mourao.

Bolsonaro again urged Wednesday for a rapid ratification of the free trade agreement concluded this year between the European Union and Mercosur.

The future of the agreement has been in doubt due to the opposition of some European countries and the reservations expressed by Fernández.

The commercial exchange between Argentina and Brazil was 27,000 million dollars last year. Argentina is the largest market for Brazilian manufactured products, particularly automobiles, and its financial problems have weighed in the anemic economic recovery of its neighbor. (Based on La Nación, Clarín and Reuters)

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