The President will have to act with balance to reconcile positions within the American forum
Alberto Fernández faces every day the complicated task of leading an Argentina that is trying to get out of the economic crisis with the foreign debt as one of the great determining factors. And where the structural problems – poverty, inflation, insecurity, social inequality – are enhanced by a COVID pandemic that does not give respite. In this framework, the Argentine president takes on new challenges, now at the command of CELAC, the regional forum in which 32 countries coexist, the vast majority, opposed to the policies that the United States deploys in the region.
Although both the head of state and his chancellor Santiago Cafiero pointed out in their respective speeches that this forum “was not born to oppose someone” or “to interfere in the political and economic life of any country,” the differences on the role it should Complying with the OAS in Latin America cannot be hidden within CELAC.
The message from Colombia, in that sense, once again divided waters. María Carmelina Londoño read the letter entrusted to her by her superior, the vice president and Minister of Foreign Affairs of that country, Marta Lucía Ramírez, and described as “a huge mistake and a great irresponsibility” the idea that several nations with leftist governments in the region support. to leave the body chaired by the Uruguayan Luis Almagro.
Colombia also promotes a suspension as members of CELAC for Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela because it maintains that these three members did not respect the commitment that was signed in 2011 as the Declaration in Defense of Democracy. “Wherever there is a breakdown of the democratic order, violation of human rights, ignorance of fundamental rights and freedoms, torture, denial of freedom of opinion or arbitrary detention, there must be sanctions,” Londoño said.
Chancellor Santiago Cafiero
Neither Cuba, nor Nicaragua, nor Venezuela admitted irregularities in their internal political situations. This is one of the aspects on which Alberto Fernández must find a balance. It will have to act as a “diplomatic fixer” to find paths to consensus. He has always shown himself as a staunch defender of non-interference in the domestic politics of others.
“He always promoted consensus and plurality in a framework of democratic coexistence without any type of exclusions,” Fernández said in one of the sections of his presentation after being consecrated as head of the multilateral organization.
One of the first litmus tests that can help him strengthen his mandate will be in March, when the Summit of the Americas, which the OAS convenes every year, takes place in Miami. The nations of America questioned by practices considered undemocratic, with complaints about human rights violations or where there is political persecution do not participate. Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela have long been excluded and Bolivia could suffer the same fate.
There is already a precedent: Joseph Biden excluded the country that is governed by the leader of the Movement for Socialism, Luis Arce, from the Summit for Democracy, less than a month ago, on December 11. Argentina showed its disagreement with the determination of the US president, who also left China off the guest list, among others.
“Bolivia has suffered a coup endorsed by a large part of the international community and by the Organization of American States (OAS), and was able to recover and regain democracy and today the institutionality there is fully in force,” Fernández said at that time , who will now have to make new efforts to reconcile such opposing interests. If you get admission to Bolivia, you will already take it as one of your first achievements.
“You feel stronger knowing that the Latin American and Caribbean brothers are accompanying you,” said the President.
The Argentine president also managed to include continental support for claims for sovereignty over the Falkland Islands and also in the negotiations before the IMF for the foreign debt. “You feel stronger knowing that the Latin American and Caribbean brothers are accompanying you,” he said.
In this bid with the IMF another conflictive focus appears. Because Biden observes with concern that several of the members of CELAC, those with a orientation closest to populism, see the People’s Republic of China as a commercial and also a geopolitical ally. The Xi Jimping government forged alliances on the continent that arouse misgivings in the United States. There is an open confrontation there and the end of that bid is extremely uncertain.
The ministers of Foreign Affairs and heads of delegation of the countries that make up CELAC (EFE / Juan Ignacio Roncoroni)
Cafiero stated that during the Argentine pro tempore presidency work will be done on the basis of 15 axes. They are the post-COVID economic recovery; regional health strategy; space cooperation; science, technology and innovation for social inclusion; comprehensive disaster management; education; institutional strengthening and the CELAC agenda against corruption; food safety; dialogue with extra-regional partners; integration of Latin American and Caribbean infrastructure; environmental cooperation; development and improvement of the operation of CELAC; improvement of the situation and condition of women in member countries; digital transformation and cooperation; and culture.
“We will work on the institutional strengthening of CELAC with spaces for dialogue and agreement, always with an open agenda, always calling everyone and listening to all voices,” said the Chancellor optimistically. Although he knows that a difficult mission awaits him in a forum with a multiplicity of opposing views and interests.
Alberto Fernández: “CELAC was not born to oppose or confront other institutions” Counterpoint in CELAC: Colombia defended the OAS, while Nicaragua and Venezuela criticized the United States