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Montevideo, March 26th 2023 - 15:14 UTC



“Fantastic” US/Argentina bilateral relations

Thursday, December 14th 2006 - 20:00 UTC
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United States Under Secretary for Latinamerica Tom Shannon United States Under Secretary for Latinamerica Tom Shannon

United States Under Secretary for Latinamerica Tom Shannon described US/Argentina relations are “fantastic” during a seminar where two former Latinamerican Foreign Affairs ministers criticized President Nestor Kirchner for his “left wing populism”.

Organized by the New York based Council of the Americas, the seminar on "Regional politics the year after elections" had Shannon as the host who emphasized that "it was time to have friendly links with the region and to play a more significant role in its development".

"All countries acknowledge, with the exception of a couple, that it's necessary to establish links with United States", he said adding that among "the most obvious exception is Venezuela whose confrontation with the US for political reasons does not reflect the truth".

However a panel of experts which included Chile's and Mexico's former Ministers Ignacio Walker and Jorge Castañeda, plus the chief economist from Bear Stearns, David Malpass did not necessarily reflect the same upbeat.

The round of elections brought "good and bad news", plus three different lefts in Latinamerica according to Chile's Walker. "Marxist left wing", although minimal, still exists; "populist left wing" such as Venezuela's Chavez, Bolivia's Morales and Argentina's Kirchner and finally "democratic left wing" where he included Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica and Peru under president Alan Garcia.

"Chavez, Morales and Kirchner share an anti-globalization, anti IMF speech", said Walker who called them "very much personalized populists" and went to compare them with Brazil's Lula da Silva who has managed an "unparalleled stability of 12 years" by following on the economic path designed by former president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Castañeda praised Tabare Vazquez from Uruguay, Chile's Michelle Bachelet and put a question mark on Ecuador's elected president Rafael Correa. And on the other side "you have Chavez, Morales, Kirchner and Daniel Ortega", which he put in the same bag of "traditional hemispheric populism".

Economist Malpass talked about the "unique opportunities" which Latinamerica is loosing with the confluence of commodities high prices and the low cost of money. "The real challenge will surface when this context is no longer around", he underlined.

Some businessmen at the forum questioned the relative emphasis on what they consider other pressing issues for the region such as free markets; efficient taxing systems; property rights; legal support for contracts; independent judiciary and named specifically "countries such as Venezuela and Argentina" in spite of the fact they have the fastest expanding economies at the moment.

However Shannon insisted in underlining the excellent bilateral relation with Argentina, "we're working fantastically well in Haiti, United Nations and many other areas; it's a relation based on dialogue, trust and frankness".

As to the "populist" description of President Kirchner by two former first line Foreign Affairs ministers, Walker and Castañeda, Shannon said that rhetoric sometimes forgets strategic interests, "and finally they are in the rise".

Finally Shannon mentioned Cuba as the only "dialogue exception" for the Bush administration in its relation with Latinamerica: no democratic government, no talks, and this "has to be decided by Cuban themselves; we're in a historic crossroad, the death of Fidel Castro".

Categories: Mercosur.

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