Argentina’s relationship with its main trading partners, Brazil and China, and with the Vatican, the seat of the first Argentine pope, is at stake in the second presidential round because, while the official candidate promotes continuity, the opponent intends to focus on the United States. Israel is united.
The leader of La Libertad Avanza (far right), Javier Mileys, said during the campaign that, if he wins, Brazil and China will continue to be business partners in the private sector, but the state will not negotiate with them because they are “communists.”
“What’s the problem if I don’t talk to (Brazilian President) Lula?” Milei asked in the last debate before the election.
On the contrary, the official candidate, Sergio Massa, showed the support given to him by Luiz Inácio Lula Da Silva this week on social networks, like other progressive leaders, when the Brazilian asked that the Argentines remember the need for a president who “appreciates democracy” and that “appreciates” bilateral relations.
A third of Argentina’s foreign trade in 2022 will be with Brazil and China. “All this business,” Milei defended himself, “will continue,” although he emphasized that these relationships were “established by private parties.”
The position of the candidate of Unión por la Patria (Peronismo) is that Argentina must “have relations with all countries” and “markets” that open their arms, showing that the country has opportunities as a supplier of food, energy, rare minerals, and services in the knowledge industry.
But the libertarian explains that “the state should not interfere in commercial relations”; “it is not necessary to say to whom” to sell or not; “it is an obstacle.”
The “best example” for Milei in what he argues is the situation in Mercosur, which is “stuck,” he said recently, after during his campaign he proposed to abolish the customs union between Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay.
“I believe in a free Argentina, in free individuals who can sell everything they want,” defended Milei, who declared: “The state should not be involved, because every time the state is involved, it produces corruption.”
China and the United States
Massa, which is considered close to deer but negotiated a currency swap with China, did not distinguish between the countries because his team defended its entry into the group of emerging economies BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), which invites Argentina to join in 2024.
However, Milei stated that he would align himself with “the United States, Israel, and the free world” and that he would not promote relations with Venezuela, Cuba, or Nicaragua.
“As a state, I am not ready to establish relations with those who do not respect liberal democracy, who do not respect individual freedoms, who develop individuals, and who do not respect peace. I do not want to have anything to do with them,” he declared.
Vatican and Falklands
Another relationship in play is with the Vatican, where Milei raised controversial positions.
Milei has repeatedly apologized for saying about the pope, among other things, that he is the “representative of evil on Earth” and, after a member of his party suggested breaking ties with the Holy See, now he says he is ready to receive him with the “honors” of the head of state.
Massa stated in the debate that he would work for Francis to visit Argentina, his homeland, in 2024, where he has not returned since he was named pontiff.
Another controversy in Milei that Massa tried to exploit was the claim of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands.
During the campaign, Diana Mondino, the libertarian representative of Foreign Affairs, defended in an interview that “the rights of the islanders will be respected,” which the ruling party interpreted as a lack of consideration of the archipelago as Argentine territory.
For Massa, the ’cause of the Malvinas’ is “immovable” and forced Milei to explain that he would “exhaust all diplomatic channels to make them Argentine again,” but he defended the figure of Margaret Thatcher, British Prime Minister during the Malvinas War (1982), “Argentina’s enemy”, according to his opponent.