Spanish Primer Minister Mariano Rajoy will arrive to Argentina today, along with 60 national business leaders, in hopes of increasing bilateral trade and discussing investment opportunities in the country. Rajoy and President Macri are expected to go over other issues such as fighting drug-trafficking and terrorism, fishing, and environmental issues.
This is the first time Rajoy visits the country since taking office in 2011, as the bilateral relationship with Argentina under former President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner grew more tense after her decision to nationalize 51 percent of state-run YPF’s stake in 2012. Back then, YPF was under the control of Spanish company Repsol.
Ever since he took office, Macri has – successfully – sought to thaw the relations and has in fact publicly mentioned several times how he disagreed with Cristina’s decision. In an interview with the EFE news agency in September 2016, Macri said that the expropriation was “an abuse” and a “violation of the Argentine National Constitution.”
However, it is worth remembering that despite Macri’s opposition, the partial nationalization of the company was one of the few measures in recent political history that was carried out with almost unanimous consensus. Practically all political parties in Congress, except for Macri’s PRO, agreed on the need to regain control of the oil company that was first privatized in 1992 and acquired by Repsol in 1999.
Macri has assured, nonetheless, that YPF will not be re-privatized.
The President also referenced the issue during interview with Spanish news site ABC, published yesterday, where he described the expropriation as “an absurd short circuit that has been resolved.” He appealed to a romantic, rather unusual, metaphor to indicate that the relations are now in a good place, comparing it to “two lovers that have been reunited.”
“We have an intense agenda in all different fields. I hope [Rajoy] will help me convince the Spanish people, once and for all, that they are very welcome here, that this is their home,” Macri added.
Rajoy’s official schedule will begin tomorrow at 9:15 AM, when he lays a wreath at the monument to San Martín. Then, he will make his way to a hotel in Puerto Madero to kick off the business summit “España-Argentina Argentina-España.” From there, the head of state will go to the Casa Rosada to have a bilateral meeting with Macri, which will be followed by a joint press conference. Rajoy will finish his day by meeting with members of the Spanish community in Argentina, at the Spanish Club.
On Wednesday, he will give a talk at an event organized by the Fundación Libertad and the Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI). Rajoy will then head to Remembrance Park, in Nuñez, to honor the people disappeared during the last dictatorship. He will finish off his official visit with a lunch in Congress, hosted by President of the Lower House, Emilio Monzó.