Elliott Abrams is one of the main swords of Donald Trump's government against Nicolás Maduro. He was always part of the toughest wing of American diplomacy, from the time of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush to these days. He has been involved in murky affairs in the region and in the world. Perhaps the biggest scandal of which he was the protagonist was that of Iran-Cons, which consisted of bartering South American drugs for weapons for opponents of Sandinismo, for which he was convicted along with Lieutenant Oliver North, who commanded that operation.
Abrams dodged a presidential pardon and returned to the ring for his competence in the matter. He is active in developing a regional policy against the Venezuelan regime on behalf of Trump. As such, he met in Mexico with Alberto Fernández, and spoke of the “symbolic steps” that the new Argentine government should take to better tune into the White House. These “symbolic steps”, as Abrams calls them, are: staying within the Lima Group, which brings together diverse countries that press against Maduro but do not necessarily have the same vision on how to solve the problem; keep Hezbollah within the qualification of a terrorist group; and try to prevent Evo Morales from participating in Argentina in the Bolivian electoral process.
The first two "steps" the new government has already fulfilled: it will not leave the Lima group, as it had promised in the campaign, and will not repeal the decree on Hezbollah, something that the new Minister of Security had claimed and provoked a strong reaction of Israel (did not send anyone to the assumption of Fernandez). Regarding Evo, his refuge in Argentina was sponsored by the new administration. But Abrams was informed before Morales would be admitted as a refugee.
All these gestures – and others such as the authorization for the Armed Forces to carry out exercises with the US military, included in the decree that calls for extraordinary ones – are aimed at obtaining Washington support for crucial negotiation with creditors. Obtaining a delay of payments for two years or more and a withdrawal (of 20% they say) with the bondholders, in addition to postponing the commitments with the Monetary Fund, is the master beam on which the “plan” of the novel minister Guzmán is based to try a revival of the economy. This objective requires, in addition to negotiating skills, obtaining support from countries that have decisive weight in the IMF. Being non-serial payers – the second default in less than 20 years – conditions those supports. There are experts who have participated in the negotiation at the time of Nestor Kirchner who recommend not adding more difficulties to the existing ones.
This week, Alberto Fernández will announce the appointment of Jorge Argüello at the embassy in Washington, but his jurisdiction would be expanded much more than the traditional tasks before the Trump administration. Argüello has already been an ambassador there with Cristina Kirchner. He left abruptly towards Lisbon after that famous skating of the former president at Harvard University.
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