Foto: EFE/Javier Lizón

In his first official speech during his state visit to Spain, President Mauricio Macri addressed the country’s legislators in an extraordinary session today. Macri argued that his presidency has brought in “political, economic and social” change, highlighted the historic bond both countries share, and, predictably, called for Spanish companies to invest in Argentina.

“I want to seize this joint session to tell you about what we are going through in our country. 14 months ago Argentina began a historic change: political, economic and social. Our government was chosen because we made three commitments: zero poverty, fighting and defeating drug-trafficking and uniting Argentines,” began Macri, before the lawmakers present in Madrid’s Chamber of Deputies.

The President went on to explain his goal of reaching “zero poverty,” which was one of his primary rallying cries during his campaign and became a frequent talking point once he took office.

“When we said zero poverty, we wanted to emphasize the road we want to go down, an absolute priority for which I expect my government can be evaluated and qualified. Our ability to reduce poverty. Today, one out every three Argentines is poor. And that, with all the qualities and possibilities we have as a country, is unacceptable,” Macri assured. He was making reference to the latest poverty rate report released last September by the government’s statistics agency, Indec, which informed that the country had a 32.6 poverty rate and a 6.3 destitution rate.

Using the same talking point, Macri pivoted and went to address the perhaps more time-sensitive goal of his four-day state visit: secure, or at least make improvements towards securing, investment in the country.

“Now, in this stage of macroeconomic stability and clear rules, we hope Argentines will participate more in the economy and attract new Spanish companies…This way, you can collaborate with the fundamental goal of growing and creating quality employment and thus reduce poverty, he said.

Finally, Macri highlighted that Argentina and Spain have a “long history of affection” and said that they both have a “lot of things to work on together” ahead: “Our past unites us, but the future does also. Together we’ll find better possibilities, there are a lot of things to be done,” he finished.

Earlier in the day, Macri officially began his state visit when Spanish kings Felipe VI and Letizia welcomed them in the “Plaza de La Armeria” in Madrid’s royal palace. They proceeded to listen to the royal guard’s band play both countries’ anthems and then watched a parade from the same guard.

Argentina's President Mauricio Macri and Spain's King Felipe (L) review honour troops during the welcoming ceremony at Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Perez
Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri and Spain’s King Felipe (L) review honour troops during the welcoming ceremony at Royal Palace in Madrid, Spain February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Sergio Perez

Macri will partake in a series of events throughout the day, but the next scheduled appearance with the same relevance will happen tomorrow, when he meets with Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. Both heads of state will sign a series of bilateral agreements, a sort of “Plan of Action,” detailing plans to advance initiatives in key areas such as infrastructure, transport and tourism, before holding a joint press conference.