Argentine President Alberto Fernández was elected on Friday to serve as president of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2022, a forum that seeks regional integration and in which several of its members are at odds with the United States.
Fernández will replace his Mexican colleague Andrés Manuel López Obrador at the head of the regional bloc of 33 Latin American countries that began to function in 2011 as an intergovernmental dialogue mechanism and that, according to analysts, is the counterweight in the region of the Organization of American States. (OAS), where the United States exerts a historical influence.
The appointment of the Argentine president was made unanimously in Buenos Aires during the XXII CELAC foreign minister’s summit, which came into operation when center-left and populist leaders such as Hugo Chávez in Venezuela ruled the continent; Néstor Kirchner, in Argentina, and Evo Morales, in Bolivia.
In an intervention before the foreign ministers present, Fernández said that the bloc “was not born to oppose someone, to confront any of the existing institutions; it was not born to interfere in the political and economic life of any country; it was born as a forum in favor of of ourselves that always promoted the consensus and the plurality “.
The summit takes place at a time when the Argentine government has recognized the existing obstacles to reaching an agreement with the International Monetary Fund – which has the United States among its most important members – in order to refinance a loan of about 44,000 million dollars granted to Argentina in 2018 when the conservative president Mauricio Macri was ruling (2015-2019).
Fernández thanked all the countries present for their support in the negotiations with the credit agency. “You feel stronger knowing that the Latin American and Caribbean brothers are accompanying you,” he said.
Meanwhile, Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero said that “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.”
Brazil was not present at the regional meeting. The government of Jair Bolsonaro suspended its participation in bloc activities in 2020 by claiming that it gave prominence to non-democratic regimes, alluding to Nicaragua, Venezuela and Cuba.
Argentina’s appointment to the presidency came after several months of intense talks with member countries.
According to analysts, with this step the South American nation seeks to position itself as an important interlocutor in the region vis-à-vis the proposals of the United States and in line with the rapprochement of several Latin American countries to China.
Opposition parties such as PRO, the political space that has among its leaders the former president Macri, pointed out that the assumption of the presidency of CELAC must be accompanied by the promotion by Argentina of “the restoration and validity of democracy and human rights In all countries”.
In that sense, he urged the government to alert “about the human rights situation taking place in three countries such as Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela” where “there has been a systematic violation of individual rights and freedoms.”
The opposition party also questioned “the concessions that the government has made or may make in pursuit of obtaining votes or avoiding vetoes in the face of obvious abuses by dictatorships” in the aforementioned countries.
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