The First Contact Between Donald Trump And Alberto Fernández: An Attempt By Both To Forge An Ally

WASHINGTON.- The first direct contact between
 Alberto Fernández and the president of
U.S,
Donald Trump, was an auspicious kick for a relationship that will be decisive in the very complicated task that the future government must assume to finish stabilizing the economy and take it out of the well in which it fell the previous year.

If Alberto Fernández seeks the support of
International Monetary Fund (IMF), to achieve this, first, you need that of Donald Trump.

The friendly tone of the conversation, according to the version that emerged from the offices on Mexico Street and what the White House said, suggests that, at least, the Trump administration is willing to grant the benefit of the doubt to Fernandez, who he carries on his back a mistrust inherited from the government of his now vice president, Cristina Kirchner.

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In Washington, Mauricio Macri was welcomed with open arms as a reliable ally and a related leader with whom he could forge a strategic partnership and mark an exit from populism in Latin America. Fernandez comes to power without that aura. For many, it is still an enigma. The doubt – or, rather, the restlessness – is the same in almost everyone's mind: if it will be a moderate Peronist or if it will offer a "Kirchnerism 2.0".

Trump's friendly signal when talking to Fernandez can be read as an attempt by the United States to forge an ally, and prevent a hard or confrontational first contact from feeding an adversary.

Trump, cultivator like few of the personal ties, had already dispatched another more incisive message before. The person in charge of transmitting it was the Secretary of the Tre asury, Steven Mnuchin, when he recalled, this week, from Riyadh, that Argentina had a "commitment" to the Fund and that the United States expected Fernandez's government to comply, even if it asked for more changes

Rather than nullifying each other, both signs denote the intention of the Trump administration to lend a hand to Fernandez's, as long as the commitments are respected. It is worth noting that the bilateral relationship goes beyond the IMF. It grew and became entrenched during the last four years after the distancing of the Kirchnerism, signified by the litigation with the vulture funds and the scandal over the seizure of military equipment in an operation in 2011 led by the then Chancellor, Hector Timerman, an episode still fresh in the memory of Washington.

Fernandez's relationship with Trump will never be what Macri had. Before being presidents, both did business. Trump called Macri "my friend" when he received him at the White House and traveled to Latin America for the first time for the G-20 meeting that Macri took to Buenos Aires. Without Trump's support, Macri would hardly have accessed the $ 50 billion loan from the Fund, the largest in the agency's history, which was later extended to $ 57 billion.

But Fernandez doesn't need to be friends with Trump. Both share a trait: they are pragmatic. And Trump is, for some, the most Peronist president the United States has had. The incentives also seem aligned. Argentina needs to regain access to external financing if it wants to avoid a greater adjustment, and the United States and the IMF want Argentina, as Mnuchin said, to respect its commitments.

Venezuela sees itself as one of the main sources of tension in the future relationship. Macri was one of the leaders of the Lima Group and the regional offensive to force an exit from the Nicolás Maduro regime. And I support the interim government of Juan Guaidó. One of the doubts that exist in Washington is how Fernandez will get rid of that policy without irritating the White House.

Here, for now, wait for Fernandez to answer that and other questions, and transform the puzzle into certainties.

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