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LATIN AMERICA | 29-10-2018 11:48

In Argentina, presidential hopefuls react to Bolsonaro win

Brazil's incoming Finance Minister Paulo Guedes told reporters on Sunday: "Argentina is not a priority, neither is the Mercosur".

As president-elect Jair Bolsonaro settles into the Planalto Palace in Brasilia, attention will inevitably begin turning to the 2019 presidential and general elections in Argentina, South America's second-biggest country and a key Brazil ally.

On Sunday, Argentine president Mauricio Macri congratulated Bolsonaro via Twitter, saying: "Congratulations to Jair Bolsonaro for the triumph in Brazil! I hope to work together for the good of the relationship of our countries and the well-being of Argentines and Brazilians."

Observers have little doubt that Macri will seek re-election in 2019. However, it remains to be seen who will compete against the centre-right head of state, whose administration is reported to have major concerns about a Bolsonaro presidency.

ARGENTINA: NOT A PRIORITY

Brazil's incoming Finance Minister Paulo Guedes dealt Buenos Aires a blow on Sunday, telling reporters: "Argentina is not a priority, neither is the Mercosur".

"The Mercosur is very restrictive", Guedes said. "Brazil is a prisoner of ideological alliances and this is bad for the economy." He said the Bolsonaro government would "prioritise international trade", while looking to immediately overhaul the country's pension model and "accelerating privatisations".

"It's not reasonable that Brazil spends US$ 100 billion in interest", Guedes said.

PRESIDENTIAL HOPEFULS SPEAK OUT

On Sunday, dissident Peronist leader and presidential hopeful Sergio Massa, tweeted: "The sovereign people decided. It is time to strengthen our commercial ties and friendship with our Brazilian brothers. I wish the new government of Brasil success".

However, the man who came third in the 2015 presidential race against Macri and Daniel Scioli also sought to distance himself from Bolsonaro. "The election shows us how nostalgia is not enough to confront the new right wing. The path toward are the new ideas and proposals to construct a progressive alternative that resolves our peoples' problems", he added, in a separate tweet.

For his part, former Buenos Aires province governor and presidential hopeful Felipe Solá wrote: "Hatred is behind Bolsonaro's win. Argentina is not Brazil but violent words drive us to other forms of violence here, there and in all parts of the world".

Solá last week split from Massa's Renewal Front movement to form his own minority coalition in Congress with closer ties to former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, who refrained from commenting on Bolsonaro's win. The former head of state was closely allied with jailed Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio "Lula" Da Silva, who is currently in jail on corruption charges.

Among other presidential hopefuls, Salta governor Juan Manuel Urtubey and Senator Miguel Pichetto were also keeping quiet.

-TIMES

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