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Upset in Argentine as US President Not to Visit During Forthcoming Trip to Latin America

Thursday, January 27th 2011 - 16:33 UTC
Full article 48 comments
A White House spokesperson said Obama will visit “key leaders of the continent.” A White House spokesperson said Obama will visit “key leaders of the continent.”

United States President Barack Obama’s forthcoming visit to Latin America has cause upset in Argentina, because he will not be visiting the country. In March Obama will embark on his first trip to South America and Central America, visiting Chile, Brazil and El Salvador as he tries to shore up security and economic ties with the emerging economies.

The US president announced his intention to travel to the Latin American countries in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, where he urged stepped-up investments in infrastructure and clean energy to help keep America competitive.

In Argentina the fact that Obama will not visit, is seen as a blow to the country and current administration. A White House spokesperson said Obama will visit “key leaders of the continent.”

Both Argentina and the US have said that their relationship is satisfactory but recently disclosed Wikileaks documents have shown that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner has shown her upset, on several occasions, because she feels Argentina has not been receiving the attention it deserves from the United States. Kirchner and Obama have only held, one, short meeting together at a multinational summit, which is not the case of other countries such as Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Panama and El Salvador.

US Assistant State Secretary Arturo Valenzuela has visited Argentine twice and on neither visit was he able to meet President Kirchner. During his first visit in December 2009 he made remarks about US companies complaints about the judiciary system in Argentina, which led to a formal protest by the Argentine foreign minister. On his second visit, less than two weeks ago, which was practically unnoticed, Valenzuela released a communiqué in which he emphasized Argentina’s valuable role in Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) and regional cooperation.

Brazil's strides in renewable clean energy and its new leader were factors in Obama's decision to travel to the country, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said. Dilma Rousseff was sworn in recently as Brazil's new president, replacing Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

“I think the president believes that it is important for him to get to South America and Central America personally ... and strengthen, as we have in Asia and in Europe, strengthen our ties to that very important region of the world,” Gibbs said while traveling with Obama to Wisconsin.

Obama won't be the first US president to travel to Latin America. Dwight Eisenhower traveled to Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil in 1960, and George H.W. Bush travelled to the same countries in 1990. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also made official visits to Chile on the sidelines of regional summits, according to Chile's foreign ministry.

Obama's visit will fall during the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's Alliance for Progress, which was aimed at accelerating economic and social development in Latin America.

It's unclear why the president won't be making stops in Panama or Colombia, where the president has vowed to pursue trade deals.

Chilean officials welcomed Obama's pending visit. “This is an event that isn't repeated very often, and we hope to make the most of it,” Foreign Affairs Minister Alfredo Moreno told reporters in Chile. “We think that it's a recognition, just as he mentioned in his State of the Union speech, that we are a country that does things responsibly and that shares common values, ideas and ways to improve development.”

Among the topics on the table for discussion are renewable energy and global economic stability, Moreno said. Regional democratic development and participation in regional multilateral organizations will also likely be on the agenda, Moreno added.

Energy will be one of the biggest issues on the agenda for Chile and the US, Moreno said. The two countries are working on nuclear energy cooperation. Chile hasn't yet decided to give commercial nuclear reactors the go-ahead. It has, however, been talking to the U.S. about cooperation so it will have the know-how and the regulatory framework in place.

“We have to make up for lost time on the nuclear issue, and in that sense the US can provide assistance,” he said.

Even though Argentina is a member of the G-20 and is currently presiding over the so called group of 77 at the United Nations, it is not enough for Obama to visit the country.
 

Top Comments

Disclaimer & comment rules
  • Be serious

    Well I suppose Brazil is the big boy in South America. And Chile, well everybody likes Chile.

    Jan 27th, 2011 - 04:44 pm 0
  • fredbdc

    No one cares about Argentina, they think CFK is crazy, the country offers no strategic importance...so why would Obama go? To be treated like Bush? I think not.
    The Ks were blacklisted and pretty soon Arg will be out of G20 then they will truly be irrelevant...as much international influence as say, Paraguay...

    Jan 27th, 2011 - 05:08 pm 0
  • Forgetit86

    Argentina should actually feel flattered not to have to house this weakling superstar wannabe.

    Jan 27th, 2011 - 05:50 pm 0
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