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ARGENTINA | 11-11-2019 14:47

Argentina’s new foreign policy: Who's advising Alberto Fernández

Meet the three key players influencing the president-elect’s foreign policy.

Argentina’s president-elect Alberto Fernández isn’t showing any signs of moderating his foreign policy stance before he takes office in a month. This weekend, he hosted a group of leftist politicians in Buenos Aires.

Fernández was one of the first to praise the liberation of Brazil’s former president Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva from jail. He held a lengthy four-hour lunch with Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in his first trip abroad since the elections. And on Saturday he was the key speaker of the Grupo de Puebla, a body created in July that brings together left-wing leaders from the region.

Former presidents such as Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Uruguay’s José Mujica, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo and Spain’s José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero are some of the higher-profile members of this self-proclaimed progressive group that will be discussing priorities for the region during a weekend meeting in Buenos Aires, concluding with a statement on Sunday. On the agenda are topics such as climate change, migration and regional growth.

“The Puebla Group is one I’ve supported even before being a presidential candidate,” Fernández said in Mexico. “It’s a group designed to fix problems in Latin America. Nothing more than that.”

Fernández hasn’t made clear yet whether he’ll remain in the Lima Group of nations who support Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Argentina’s decision on Venezuela could hurt its standing with US President Donald Trump and challenge its ability to renegotiate a US$56-billion credit line with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Fernández, who takes office December 10, has yet to announce who will be his foreign minister. Until then, these are Fernández’s point people on foreign policy matters, who don’t act as a unified team:

Felipe Solá

Solá, 69, is one of Fernández’s closest advisers, and travels with him in every trip abroad. An agricultural engineer, he is a national lawmaker since 2009 and was governor of Buenos Aires Province during Néstor Kirchner’s presidency. Before that, he was agriculture minister between 1993 and 1999.

“I’m slowly getting used to the idea of ​​being the foreign affairs minister,” Solá said during an interview with a local radio station.

Though his role isn’t yet defined, he hasn’t hesitated to make statements on Argentina’s foreign policy. During Fernández’s visit to Mexico, Solá said that the country won’t change its view on the situation in Venezuela due to the debt with the Fund.

Jorge Argüello

Argüello, 63, is Argentina’s former ambassador to the United Nations, the US and Portugal. Born in Córdoba province, he is a lawyer and a career diplomat. Argüello is a friend of Fernández for 40 years, though he hasn’t participated in his international trips so far this year.

Before that, he was a two-time Buenos Aires City lawmaker. He is the president of Fundación Embajada Abierta, a consulting firm in Buenos Aires. In a recent article originally published in Le Monde Diplomatique, he defined Argentina as a “country that plays under the rules imposed by others” and that must organize its international agenda with a delicate balance between its own national interests and consensus with other nations.

Marco Enríquez-Ominami

Chile’s three-time presidential candidate Marco Enríquez-Ominami, 46, is also close to Fernández and has been influencing his international agenda. Although he defines himself as a friend and not an adviser, he has travelled this year with the Argentine leader to Spain and Mexico.

Shifting between English, Spanish and French, he was seen most recently at the lobby of the Camino Real hotel in Mexico City, talking about details of the upcoming Grupo de Puebla meeting in Buenos Aires, which he’ll also be attending.

Enríquez-Ominami, a lamwker from 2006 to 2010, is a Grupo de Puebla founder and a member of the Partido Progresista ("Progressive Party") in Chile. He lived in Paris for more than a decade.

by Jorgelina do Rosario & Eric Martin, Bloomberg

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