The Argentine government confirmed on Monday that President Cristina Fernandez would be flying on Thursday to Cuba to visit her Venezuelan peer Hugo Chavez, fighting for his life after a fourth cancer surgery with complications, and on the day which he should be taking office after October’s re-re-election.
Cristina Fernandez will be flying a day after receiving on Wednesday the Navy’s flagship ARA Libertad retained for 78 days in Ghana. The reception of the vessel at the port of Mar del Plata is scheduled to be a great ‘sovereignty’ ceremony with all her cabinet attending followed by an open music and dance party.
Cuba will thus become the first leg of the programmed trip originally only to the Arab Emirates, Indonesia and Vietnam.
The true health condition of President Chavez and the political situation in Venezuela on January 10, the day the undisputed leader is supposed to take office has caused much concern in the rest of Latin America and there is a clear consensus to fully support Vice-president designate Nicolás Maduro if as anticipated the oath ceremony is suspended.
Last week Cristina Fernandez sent to Cuba a former advisor of President Nestor Kirchner, Ricardo Follonier, who has excellent contacts in Caracas to express Argentina’s full support for Chavez and Maduro.
“Argentina will stand next to Venezuela all the time. The stability of the Venezuelan government is crucial for the current South American popular and democratic integration process”, said Follonier.
The Argentine envoy will also travel to Caracas to confirm to Maduro Argentina’s support and ‘full alignment’ with the Bolivarian axis, if the worse is to happen with Chavez.
Follonier who also has good contacts with Unasur since the time Nestor Kirchner was secretary general has been instructed to help build a ‘strong contention net’ in support of Venezuela at the regional group.
Federal Planning minister Julio De Vido with a long working relation with the Chavez administration and with Maduro, is also expected to travel to Caracas.
Argentina is not only interested in the political alliance with the Bolivarian relation but also trade and financial support. Venezuela has become Argentina’s eighth trading partner with a huge surplus of 1.7 billion dollars in 2012. Venezuela also helped when Argentina was short of fuel, mainly heavy oil for power plants and in 2004 and 2005 purchased Argentine bonds thus contributing to cut the Kirchner administration links with the IMF.