The US government once again made its rounds in our corner of the world to check everything is all right in the neighborhood. But while we discuss if these are visits to their run-down backyard or to a fenced, prosperous front yard, the truth is that Argentina is still looked at as a semi-detached house that, despite being a part of the same gated community, is not really worth taking a closer look at.
The Obama Administration has worked diligently to reposition the U.S. as Latin America’s more-experienced-yet-compassionate older brother. In an effort to undo all of George W. Bush’s wrongdoings in the region, President Obama and both of his secretaries of State have gained quite a few frequent flyer miles with their trips to our region. Still, Argentina is being majorly left out. In 2011, Obama made his first big tour of the region, visiting Brazil, Chile and El Salvador. Hillary Clinton became the Secretary of State that traveled the most all over the world strengthening U.S. ties abroad and yet only came to Argentina once in 2010. Now, newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry has traveled to our corner of the world but only to visit Colombia and Brazil.
Of course, there is a plethora of diplomatic reasons for the U.S. to avoid this southern cone casa chorizo (I know, Argentina is more like an inverted triangle but there are no triangular-shaped homes in the area so bear with me on this one): The recent spygate, a predictable request to mediate in the Malvinas/Falklands dispute, an approach to Iran and the US refusal to back Argentina on the Vulture Funds case are for sure at the top of any diplomatic assessment of this angsty bilateral relation.
But hey! When it comes to questionable allies, neither country can throw the first rock diplomatic tantrum so let’s take a look at a few reasons why Argentina can be a welcoming, enthusiastic, dramatic, acceptable host.
1. THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS INDEED
Kerry´s visit to Brazil was nothing short of a chronicle of a death foretold. Simply put, his welcome to Brazil was nothing like the Pope’s. And I mean nothing. After just a few days in the land of tudo joia, Kerry was met with grounded claims by the Brazilian government to take the espionage case to the United Nations while severe demonstrations were seen on the streets, led by people who rejected his visit.
I guess Kerry’s stance of I-will-clarify-why-we-spy-on-you-but-won’t-stop-doing-it wasn’t enough for Brazilians. But oh well. It was worth the shot.
Still, when it comes to dramatic displays of righteous condemnation, no one can beat Argentina. Kerry’s assessment of the status of their bilateral relations with Brazil could easily make him foresee the set of complaints that he was going to meet upon arrival, so why not make a pit stop in Argentina to know what real drama tastes like?
It would be one heck of a show: The visit would be announced, condemning the enemy for daring to show up after such a tyrannical display of power. The National Government would pretend to look like they don’t even care while tweeting all about it. They would worry about what the neighbors might think. An official protest would be set in place (Maradona would be involved somehow) and the political opposition in Congress would unsuccessfully demand explanations from the administration about the visit. And obviously Jorge Lanata would find some truculent financial ties behind the whole thing. Because everything does, people. Come on!
Behind closed doors, Vice President Amado Boudou would for sure be crossing his fingers, hoping Kerry arrives with iPads for everyone.
Needled to say, Kerry would secretly receive the rock-star treatment and be warmly welcomed on the inside, while on the outside he would be despised and spat on as the leader of the imperialist army of doom
Clearly a win-win situation.
2. MONEY, MONEY, MONEY… AND MORE DRAMA
When it comes to politics, Argentina can be the most demanding bitchy neighbor there is, and yet when it comes to business with billetes verdes, the shields go down rather smoothly. Most recently, against all rhetorical techniques, YPF signed a $1.24 billion investment agreement with Chevron of all companies! Even more so, Monsanto, the infamous American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation was allowed to expand its investments and production on Argentine soil, more specifically in the province of Cordoba, where the controversy over the intensive use of land to harvest soy monocultures is at its peak.
See where I’m going with this?
It’s all about learning to coexist peacefully. By including Argentina in their visits to the region, the U.S. government could position itself in a more cooperative role, willing to visit those countries in the region that are not necessarily immediate allies or even strong trade partners, though the potential for it is palpable. In turn, Argentina’s government would make political use of it by displaying a strong anti-American discourse that would most likely fade away progressively as the prospects for new businesses arise. After all, Argentina’s main demand to the U.S. is of a commercial nature, and is born out of a need to place Argentine beef and lemons in the U.S. market.
It is a very simplistic concept, but something’s gotta give.
So come on, U.S. Grab a home-made apple pie, knock on the door on the house at the bottom of the southern cone and prepare for an entertaining visit, filled with drama, yelling, love-making and very (very) good wine.