Donald Trump, Regional Progressivism And The Bilateral Relationship

That Argentina fulfill its commitment to the IMF and, if there is a renegotiation, that is within the framework of an economic plan. The statement of Steven Mnuchin, US Secretary of the Treasury, marked the fast court and opened omens that negotiations with the International Monetary Fund would be extremely complex. Something more, even, than was expected among leaders and analysts, who already looked at local labor and social security legislation as the target of the technicians of the international organization. That same day it transpired by a note from Bloomberg that the US authorities were considering sanctioning Spain for its actions in relation to Venezuela, where Spanish banks, including the Central Bank, maintain operations with public institutions in the Caribbean country. If you do math, the sum of both news results in very bad omens.

Order, concerted messages and predictability, however, are not the strength of the Trump administration. And, a day later, the president-elect received the congratulatory call from his next American couple, with a different message. Far from Mnuchin's warnings or the formal tone on the historical friendship of the countries that had been transmitted on Twitter by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump greeted Alberto Fernández effusively, congratulated him on the victory and promised support to the country in the negotiations with the Monetary Fund.

The difference in tones is welcome, even if the messages are not completely contradictory to each other, insofar as they give Fernández the right to expect some initial goodwill before an international scene in which, since he knew officially who had triumphed in the first round, everything was getting dark fast.


On the same night of his victory, the results of the elections in Uruguay were announced, where the Frente Amplio faces a worrying panorama in the face of the second round, in which all opposition proposals joined forces to prevent the left from reaching twenty consecutive years in government. Uruguay is, in the scheme Alberto outlined during the campaign, much more relevant than its mere neighborhood, its small population and its modest prosperity model. It is a factor of stability in a region that has become unstable and a reliable and moderate actor that could maintain international positions of non-alignment with US pressures, without forcing ruptures or confrontations. Without pretensions of regional leadership, Uruguay of the Frente Amplio was an ideal partner for an Argentina whose main field of insertion is Mercosur. Alberto Fernández's constant appeal to "the position of Uruguay and Mexico" when discussing the Argentine membership of the Lima Group, created to pressure Nicolás Maduro.

The relationship with Mexico has, however, another nature. Mexico is not a moderate actor nor a regional one in the sense that the countries of South America are. Its main trading partner is the United States, with which they have a free trade agreement whose validity defines their economy. It is a country with a history of blunt positions. His tradition of political asylum during the times of Latin American dictatorships – today again in the foreground before the arbitrariness of the Lenin Moreno government in Ecuador – and his tradition, shared with Argentina, of opposition to American interference in the countries of the continent , they maintain a gesture that the López Obrador government also recovered from invitations such as the one issued by the Venezuelan president to his assumption as president. With nearly one hundred and thirty million inhabitants, Mexico is an important country, and the approach to López Obrador has symbolic gravitation. A progressive axis that would extend from the north end to the south end of Latin America and an association that appears as a counterweight to the problems with Brazil, the other Latin American giant, today aligned almost unconditionally with Donald Trump. Although without electoral pressures, the AMLO government also showed worrying signs these weeks. The failed capture of Ovid Guzman showed a government that it cannot control its military forces or cannot control its territory. On the other hand, on Thursday it was known that the Mexican economy, with its orderly finances, fell in the interannual measurement for the first time in a decade, with a negative growth of 0.4%.

The problems in Uruguay and Mexico complicate the attempt of the Puebla Group to rebuild a progressive regional alternative against the center-right and right-wing governments of the continent, which in turn can take distance from the Venezuelan, Nicaraguan governments and their massive rights violations humans.

The attempt to bring clarity on the ideological orientation of Argentine foreign policy encountered an additional obstacle after the election. If Jair Bolsonaro’s support for Mauricio Macri and Fernández’s position on the injustice of the sentence handed down against Lula Da Silva, the statements of the president of Brazil, who said he was not going to greet the winner in the elections, was known and insistent, and the subsequent escalation of offenses, which included a personal attack by Eduardo Bolsonaro on the son of the elected president and a statement (the only one so far from the Foreign Ministry) of the Foreign Minister warning about a triumph of "the forces of evil", give place of fears about the future of the relationship, particularly of Mercosur, where Bolsonaro will press against any attempt to protect the national industry, with the probable support of Paraguay and Uruguay, the other members of the block.

In an Argentina in crisis, where the news of the neighborhood has a dark gray tone and the large political projects, perhaps necessary, are still fragile, the good American predisposition appears as a relevant key to a start of management where regional alliances do not they will be what will give the country a negotiating strength. Donald Trump showed, from the beginning of his administration, a willingness to understand leaders in principle opposed to what he represents. Without going any further, his good relationship with López Obrador is proof of that provision. In the same way, he also showed his willingness to pass over international norms, historical relations and even some important commercial interests to prevail in bilateral negotiations. Also there, its pressure on Mexico to tighten its migration policy by threatening to break down the free trade agreement that binds it to the border country by way of tariffs is a good example.

The open question is, then, what does the US government intend from Argentina, and if it crosses the limits that guide the Argentine president. Maybe there are some clues. The White House statement speaks of "security, democracy and economic development." The fight against terrorism, Venezuela, and an agreement with the Monetary Fund would seem to be the first translation of the priorities of the United States, which found in the outgoing administration the will to convert those wishes into orders. From the tone of the statement, and from the known quotes about Donald Trump's, however, some flexibility is guessed towards the new occupant of the Casa Rosada to administer adjustments and changes with respect to what acted by the macrismo, while other important elements for the Bilateral relationship, as the place that China will occupy for the new government, does not appear yet in the discussion.

Argentina, and its political system, showed resilience to the crisis and became a factor of stability in a region where almost no country can boast of having it. For the United States, where security and immigration are priorities for the continent, it is a value in itself. It remains to know what are the political and economic limits within which to preserve that stability weighs more than the intention of obtaining unconditional alignments.



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