The presidents of Mexico and Argentina on Tuesday laid the foundations for a common purpose that seeks to consolidate a new progressive, or anti-neoliberal, axis in Latin America. The official visit that Alberto Fernández began on Monday to the North American country has a meaning that goes beyond the conjuncture, now determined by the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and the management of vaccines, and aims to strengthen a geopolitical alliance in the region. The two leaders appeared in a joint press conference in which they showed a deep harmony marked by one objective: to finish breaking with the recent past and the heritage of the last governments.
Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador won the elections two and a half years ago with a project that promised to focus on national affairs. The best foreign policy is domestic policy. That has always been one of the maxims of the veteran politician. Since he came to power, he has avoided speaking out openly or interfering in the issues of greatest concern in Latin America. In recent weeks, however, his government’s strategy has changed, at least apparently, and is aimed at acquiring new leadership within the region. An initiative that Argentina is determined to support without much qualms. “That Mexico and Argentina are united is a duty that we have. That they face a common future and that this helps Latin America is an obligation that we have, from the northernmost country to the southernmost country we must be able to draw an axis that unites the entire continent, ”Fernández said.
Mexico has been erected in some way as a representative of the countries harmed by the international distribution of vaccines against covid-19. The chancellor, Marcelo Ebrard, recalled this during the daily appearance of the president known as the morning. “Last week we raised it in the Security Council to the UN by indications of President López Obrador. It’s just how unacceptable hoarding vaccines is. Ten countries are already concentrating almost 80% of the world’s vaccines, the worst is accelerating, ”lamented the Foreign Minister. His country, with a population of around 130 million, has administered just 1.7 million doses.
The Fernández Executive supported this protest that demands a more equitable distribution. But that is only one concrete step in a shared agenda, which also has a great symbolic scope. The president recalled the protection provided by Mexico to the exiles of the dictatorship and the reception that the Government of López Obrador gave Evo Morales in November 2019, when the Argentine politician had already won the elections but was not yet acting president. The affinity of political projects is perhaps the main premise to strengthen this alliance.
Fernández has also been the first president to participate in a morning, the usual press conferences with which López Obrador starts the day. It is one more example of that alignment, which is political and even personal. In the words of Martín Borrego Llorente, director of the Mexican Foreign Ministry’s Undersecretariat for Latin America, it is because there is “a natural chemistry” between the two leaders. “There is a harmony of positions between them and that generated a fluid dialogue,” he said. The ideological coincidences between the leaders were translated into praise this Tuesday. “At last Mexico has a president with moral values as Mexicans deserve,” said the Argentine. “Alberto is our friend,” replied his Mexican counterpart.
Ultimately, López Obrador and Fernández’s goal is to promote a return to recent equilibrium, when the geopolitical map of Latin America was tinted red, even though that color had a wide range of shades. From the Argentina of Cristina Fernández to the Bolivia of Evo Morales, to the Brazil of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, the left ruled almost all of South America. In Chile a decade ago, Michelle Bachelet had just finished her first term, who returned later, between 2014 and 2018. Rafael Correa was on the rise in Ecuador. In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez was still in power and, despite criticism of his management, the social, institutional and economic drift of Nicolás Maduro had not yet accelerated.
The end of the Bolivarian axis
After the collapse of the so-called Bolivarian axis, in recent months there has been the return to power of the left heir to Morales in Bolivia and in April elections are held in Ecuador and Peru. In the first country, a candidate sponsored by former President Correa won the first round by a wide margin, on February 7. At the same time, the activities of organizations that promote progressive policies such as the Puebla Group, founded in the Mexican city in 2019, have multiplied. In this context, Mexico and Argentina, from north to south, lead the aspirations for change in the region .
That was the most important thing, the primordial message beyond the shadows that they planned on the visit, The Argentine president began this trip, the first to Mexico of an acting president in a decade and with essentially commercial objectives, punctuated by scandal of vaccines administered irregularly to 70 influential people, known as VIP vaccination. The case, which has opened a deep political crisis in the South American country and cost the Minister of Health the job, flies over the visit when the focus is placed precisely on the management of vaccines against covid-19. Fernández, however, asked to address the issue without politicizing it and went to court with a claim: “Let’s end the clowning.”
The politician disdained the dozen complaints filed to clarify the responsibilities of the case, uncovered last Friday. “There is no criminal type in Argentina that says that the one who vaccinates the one who went ahead in line will be punished. You cannot build crimes gracefully, “emphasized the president, who claims to have done what is necessary to turn the page. The vaccine scandal led to the resignation of one of the strongest ministers in the Administration. The head of Health, Ginés González García, was forced to resign after it was learned that a few privileged with good contacts in power had been immunized at the ministry headquarters. In the list of those vaccinated, which the Argentine Executive announced this Monday, there appear names such as former president Eduardo Duhalde and his children, or former Kirchnerist presidential candidate Daniel Scioli.
One of the complaints led the Justice to accuse González García of abuse of authority on Monday and to search the headquarters of the Ministry of Health in search of evidence. “I reacted and lost a minister,” Fernández recalled. “If there are more people responsible, they will have to leave, but I will not take charge of the public derision that they are promoting without measure in Argentina,” he continued.
López Obrador avoided commenting on it. “We respect the Government of Argentina a lot and we are not going to comment on this matter at this time,” he said. Instead, the Mexican president took advantage of the questions asked by journalists to highlight the changes, the break with the past, the last governments of Felipe Calderón and Enrique Peña Nieto -one of the priorities of his mandate- and charge against the press, also seeking in it an affinity with Fernández.
“Sometimes the press does not act objectively. And in these cases, as Alberto said [Fernández], I thought that it was nothing else in Mexico, the conservative press, those who supported the neoliberal governments, who looted, I believe that in the case of Mexico there is no doubt, in the case of Argentina I cannot say more than what I it is clear that they indebted Argentina, ”he stated regarding that country’s relationship with the International Monetary Fund. “I know that. The international financial organizations, which supposedly act impartially and do not participate in politics, and that is a lie ”.
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