Spanish Primer Minister Mariano Rajoy addressing the audience this morning (Spanish Government/Diego Crespo)

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has advocated for greater cooperation between Madrid and Latin America, and Buenos Aires in particular, in response to “protectionist and populist” sentiments.

Speaking in Buenos Aires at an event hosted by the Argentine Council for International Relations (CARI) and the Fundación Libertad, Rajoy said “Spain and Argentina, Argentina and Spain, are today in an unbeatable position to exert influence together in the international arena. Working together to build a consensus with other countries that share our values, we can greatly contribute to global governance.”

For the prime minister, Madrid and Buenos Aires can work “not only in the Latin American and European issues, but also in the primary issues on the global agenda, which range from climate change to international trade or the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.”

Further to the mutual praise on display between Rajoy and President Mauricio Macri yesterday, the president was in the audience today to listen to Rajoy’s speech. Macri did not speak.

Making reference to his view that the benefits of globalization are not always distributed “equitably between people and regions,” Rajoy warned of the risks that it generates in terms of “people who feel that their well-being or identity are being threatened in an increasingly inter-connected and competitive world” and the rise of “nationalist and populist” feelings. For the Spanish PM, the response is to increase cooperation.

“The response to this threat is not isolation nor inaction. Nor to raise barriers nor close borders nor to have blind faith tin the self-regulation of markets. The answer is to intensify international cooperation to regulate that globalization, promoting an equitable global order, based on multilateral institutions  and common rules” in order to tackle problems that cross international borders.

“In this context of increasing populist and protectionist sentiment, our relationship with Ibero-America takes on a renewed dimension and importance. Latin America, because of its history, it has vaccinated itself against many of these ills” said Rajoy, praising the end of the “temptation of coups, improved institutions and the use of macroeconomic tools.”

“This renewed intensity is the reflection of a Latin America, with Argentina without a doubt at its vanguard, that is going through changes and a reorientation of its internal dynamics and its relationship with the rest of the world” said Rajoy, who repeated yet again that Madrid is the greatest champion of the still to be concluded trade negotiations between the Mercosur and the European Union.

President Mauricio Macri (left) and Spanish Prime Minsiter Mariano Rajoy speak ahead of Rajoy's address. (Spanish Government / Diego Crespo)
President Mauricio Macri (left) and Spanish Prime Minsiter Mariano Rajoy speak ahead of Rajoy’s address. (Spanish Government / Diego Crespo)

 

The call to counteract protectionist sentiments comes as the Buenos Aires chairs the G20 this year and ongoing discussions about trade openness in the world’s major economies.

As he addressed the matter of cooperation with Latin America, the leader of Spain’s Popular Party (PP) emphasized that “it’s not only about economics.” In that vein he reiterated that both Venezuela and Argentina “share that it is imperative to give a voice back to the Venezuelan people through credible, transparent and legitimate elections that respect the right of every political group and every candidate to appear under the same conditions and subject to the qualified international observers.”

Yesterday both Macri and Rajoy targeted Caracas, with Macri repeating that he would not recognize the upcoming presidential elections.

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (2nd L) throws a flower into the waters of the Rio de La Plata next to Argentine Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj (3rd R) and Buenos Aires' city vice mayor Diego Santilli (L) during his visit to the Parque de la Memoria (REUTERS/Agustín Marcarian)
Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy (2nd L) throws a flower into the waters of the Rio de La Plata next to Argentine Human Rights Secretary Claudio Avruj (3rd R) and Buenos Aires’ city vice mayor Diego Santilli (L) during his visit to the Parque de la Memoria (REUTERS/Agustín Marcarian)

 

Following the speech, Rajoy traveled to Parque de la Memoria to pay tribute to the victims of the military dictatorship and later met with Vice-President Gabriela Michetti and Lower House Speaker Emilio Monzó before returning to Spain.

Lower House Speaker Emilio Monzó (left) and Vice-President Gabriela Michetti welcoming Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to Congress (Vice-Preisdent's Press Office)
Lower House Speaker Emilio Monzó (left) and Vice-President Gabriela Michetti welcoming Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to Congress (Vice-Preisdent’s Press Office)

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