Buenos Aires Times

world UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Michetti stands in for Macri at UN summit

President decides to skip New York event, VP Michetti uses speech to denounce Iran, call for talks in Venezuela.

Saturday 23 September, 2017
Vice-President Gabriela Michetti addresses the 72nd UN General Assembly on Wednesday in New York.
Vice-President Gabriela Michetti addresses the 72nd UN General Assembly on Wednesday in New York. Foto:AFP.

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Vice-President Gabriela Michetti addressed the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday as she stood in for President Mauricio Macri, criticising some of the countries on United States President Donald Trump’s list of rogue states while retreating from Macri’s 2015 campaign pledge of “zero poverty” to align it with the UN Millennium Goal of the worldwide elimination of extreme poverty by the year 2030.

Michetti was sharply critical of Venezuela and Iran, both on Trump’s black list, although she left North Korea, Syria and Cuba to the US president. She called on the Nicolás Maduro government to begin “credible” negotiations towards finding a consensus to “peacefully restore democracy.” On the eve of her address, she had joined Trump and various like-minded Latin American leaders in a working dinner dedicated to resolving the Venezuelan crisis.

The following day, the US president said Washington was ready to “restore democracy” and “political freedoms” in Venezuela, which prompted Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza to accuse Trump of seeking a “new Cold War” with “racist and supremacist” rhetoric. Maduro, meanwhile, accused Trump of being “the new Hitler” of international politics.

Condemning “terrorism in all its forms” in her speech, Michetti pointed a finger at Iran, asking the international community to help pressure the Islamic Republic to send its accused officials to testify in the investigation of the terrorist bombings of the AMIA Jewish community centre and Israeli Embassy in BA.

While asserting Argentine sovereignty rights over the Malvinas islands, Michetti was less harsh in her approach to Britain. Territorial sovereignty could only come via dialogue while “respecting the lifestyle of the islanders,” she said, praising Macri for having introduced a “new atmosphere” into the relationship with the United Kingdom. On Tuesday Michetti briefly exchanged words with British Prime Minister Theresa May during a passing encounter.

Mexico’s earthquake tragedy only the day before her address could not go without mention and the vice-president duly expressed her solidarity with the Mexican people.

For the final part of her address beyond the political arena Michetti chose to prioritise a feminist message over the rights of the handicapped, praising the role of “feminine attributes.”

On Wednesday Michetti spoke immediately after Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno – surely marking the first time in UN history that two top representatives of their countries have consecutively addressed the General Assembly from a wheelchair.

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