On Thursday, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida made bold assertions about Argentina while grilling President Obama’s nominee for the position of US ambassador in Buenos Aires, Noah Bryson Mamet. And the National Government is (understandably) not happy.
Rubio was questioning Mamet during a confirmation hearing with the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee to evaluate Obama’s pick was qualified for the position.
The session certainly didn’t go as well as Mamet would have expected, especially after he admitted that he had never been to Argentina. ABC News called it “a cringe-worthy blunder.”
But while Mr. Mamet may have fudged with that comment, and while some may say that he only got the job because he’s a major Obama campaign fundraiser, it was actually Rubio who ended up taking heat for his comments. At least in Argentina.
The Republican senator, eager to draw attention to himself among speculation that he could run for president in 2016, offered his views on Argentina during the session, and it appears that he isn’t a big fan of how things are done down here. Rubio observed that “it looks like (Argentina is) headed for another default because all the actions they’re taking today seem to be designed to avoid a short-term default, but long term, their structural problems, are extraordinary…”
During the hearing, Mamet repeated his opinion that Argentina is an ally — an ally with whom the United States may disagree on a few policy issues.
Rubio wasn’t impressed, and called Argentina “an ally that doesn’t pay bondholders, doesn’t work with our security operations.” He went on to say, that “these aren’t the actions of an ally.”
The Florida senator didn’t shy away from digs at Argentina’s democratic system, either, saying: “We have this trend in Latin America of people who get elected but then don’t govern democratically. Argentina is an example of this.”
Rubio went on to repeat that he feared economic collapse would strike Argentina during Mamet’s term, should he be confirmed: “I anticipate, quite frankly, that there is a very high likelihood that if you are confirmed, while you are in that post, you are going to have another similar collapse in Argentina to what you saw economically just a decade ago.”
At one point he even said “not even North Korea” had behaved in such an insolent way towards the United States.
On Friday, Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich wasn’t happy. He reacted to Rubio’s comments with the declaration that “in Argentina, citizens and inhabitants enjoy a full democracy and social inclusion…there is an expansion of civil, political and social rights.”
Foreign Minister Hector Timerman responded to Rubio’s remarks by asserting that Rubio represents an “extremist” ideology not shared by the majority of Americans.
Marco Rubio is a Republican of Cuban dissent, known for his strong association with the Tea Party movement, a controversial conservative political faction of American politics. Paul Singer (the vulture funds guy, profiled on this Bubble piece) has endorsed Rubio’s campaigns in the past. Which explains a lot.
Also, you may remember Rubio from the “water bottle incident” last year:
[Editor’s note: it has come to our attention that despite local reporting that Senator Rubio compared Argentina to North Korea, the senator never did such thing. We apologize to senator Rubio for the misunderstanding. Sometimes the local press sucks.]