“Daniel needs to go to Brazil, he can live with and pacify things with Jair Bolosonaro,” Alberto Fernández told Santiago Cafiero recently. Hours after that conversation, Daniel Scioli accepted the proposal.
“I will de-escalate any tense situation that has remained,” he said in an interview with Perfíl this week.
Over the last days, the former presidential candidate spoke with ex-ambassadors and businessmen that invest Brazil, one of Argentina’s principal economic partners.
He has started taking classes in Portuguese and says he is practising by listening to Roberto Carlos songs, as well watching the documentary At the Edge of Democracy, which retells the political and judicial scandals that allowed the current president to be elected.
After the strong words, what will the relationship with Bolsonaro look like?
We have a profound conviction of our shared destiny, based on an agreement between [ex-Argentina president] Raúl Alfonsín and [ex-Brazil president] José Sarney. The link will not only be one of commercial exchange and tourism, but one of cooperation in science and technology, infrastructure, and energy.
More than different ideological visions, what should prevail is common interests. We should complement each other, encourage each other and improve value chains among different sectors. It’s not about who sells more, if it’s Brazil to Argentina or Argentina to Brazil, rather about what else we can sell to the world together.
Will it be a pragmatic relationship?
Yes. Pragmatism is seeing what is convenient to us in the face of an international context that comes with a protectionist wave. I will give the Embassy a very dynamic and active role. I will decompress, destress any tense situation that may have remained with Bolsonaro, and prioritise having the maximum potential harmony in our relationship.
Will the Brazilian president have the same pragmatic and harmonious vision that you are presenting now?
Bolsonaro was very clear in terms of the pragmatism he wants to invest in this relationship through the search of common nexuses. Alberto also said that we should leave behind disagreements and prioritise the coincidences. There is interest on both sides.
Is it possible to 'de-ideologise' the relationship if Fernández calls for the freedom of Luíz Inácio Lula Da Silva? Does this present a roadblock in the relationship they are looking for?
No, we will continue to look for common interests and will go forth with agreements. Alberto made it clear that we need to be respectful of the will of the people, of institutions. Respect needs to be the common ground. That is what defines the coming times and this is the importance I will give it.
The Brazilian government has different positions regarding foreign affairs, ranging from the president’s and his son’s anti-globalisation stand, to that of the Armed Forces that seek to maintain the neoliberal relationship with Argentina. With who will you look to dialogue with?
I will maintain dialogue with all sectors.
Looking at the Mercosur trade bloc, Bolsonaro is seeking to lower foreign tariffs. What will be Argentina’s position?
The lowering of tariffs and the Mercosur-European Union deal are complex issues that will require further evaluation from the Ministry. Among the European countries there is a lot of discussion about the agreement, we have to look for new ways of conquering other markets. We need dollars, we need to generate jobs, lower poverty rates, and fight against hunger. This can only be achieved with genuine resources, by promoting exports. I’ll be heading this.
You speak English, French, Italian – but not Portuguese. Are you learning the language?
It’s a language that I had been thinking of learning for some time. I’m taking classes and complementing that by listening to songs by Roberto Carlos in Portuguese; it reminds me of when I was younger and would learn English by listening to Frank Sinatra. With the ease I have in learning languages I won’t have problems.