Just days after President Obama’s historic trip to Cuba, he visited Argentina during what happened to be the 40th anniversary of the start of the “Dirty War” to meet with Argentina’s new president, Mauricio Macri, a center-rightist. The goal of this visit was two fold; to announce the declassification of military intelligence the US had about the “Dirty War” and to create a renewed camaraderie with Argentina, one that would promote trade between the countries.
In declassifying these intelligence documents, President Obama is looking to show an endeavor of good will in the region. Many Argentines and human rights groups still accuse the United States of meddling during the “Dirty War” and President Obama’s trip was scorned by such groups for its poor timing, coinciding with the anniversary. Mr. Macri said that “nations must not be ‘passive onlookers’ of human rights violations, as had been the case in the past.” Obama and Macri visited the Parque de la Memoria, a memorial wall listing all the lives lost, and tossed six white roses into the Río de la Plata honoring the victims. “We are absolutely determined to do our part as Argentina continues to heal and move forward as one nation,” Obama said.
This trip was also an effort to strengthen economic ties with Argentina in trade and investment. Now straying from the leftist Latin America, the US hopes that Argentina will return to being the leader it once was in global affairs. “President Macri is a man in a hurry. I'm impressed because he has moved rapidly on so many of the reforms that he promised, to create more sustainable and inclusive economic growth and to reconnect Argentina with the global economy and the world community,” Obama said. He hopes that this will influence the rest of the hemisphere to follow suit as well.
The US is likely to have far better relations under Macri as opposed to his predecessor Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, a leftist, and her late husband, Néstor Kirchner before her, who left the two countries in “an era of discord”. “[Fernández de Kirchner] especially, distanced Argentina from the United States. She clashed with American companies; unleashed fiery anti-U.S. rhetoric; and pitted her government against New York hedge funds in a high-profile debt dispute. That, together with protectionist economic policies like trade restrictions and currency controls, dissuaded foreign investors.” Obama was quoted having said that “her policies… were consistently anti-American. I think she would resort to rhetoric that probably dated back to the '60s and the '70s, as opposed to today,"
During the trip President Obama, Michelle, and their two daughters also took part in Latin American and Argentine traditions such as drinking maté, dancing the tango, and hiking in Patagonia. Ultimately, the two presidents shared a constructive visit and from it the US stands to gain better recognition in Latin America.
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Davis, Julie Hirschfeld, and Jonathan Gilbert. "Obama Declares a New Partnership After Talks With Argentine Leader." The New York Times. The New York Times, 23 Mar. 2016. Web. 01 Apr. 2016.
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