President Mauricio Macri will not travel to Brazil on January 1st to attend the inauguration of his Brazilian counterpart, Jair Bolsonaro, Argentine press reported on Monday.
Last week, Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie had confirmed the President would in fact attend the event: “For us, Brazil is extremely important and our main partner. Therefore, the President understands he has to be present at that moment, in the same way other regional leaders will be,” Faurie said after a cabinet meeting.
However, it has now been reported that Macri will spend that day on holiday in Patagonia along with his family. It has not been confirmed which Argentine authority – or authorities – will replace the President.
Even though Macri and Bolsonaro have officially spoken on the phone twice, the event would have marked the first time in which they would have met, or at least be present in the same venue. Macri had invited his successor to the G20 Leaders Summit that took place on November 30th and December 1st in Buenos Aires and Brazilian President Michel Temer agreed to include him in the official delegation, but despite initially acceding, Bolsonaro finally declined to attend.
Moreover, in what many considered a snub to its main trading partner in the region, Bolsonaro announced he will take his first international trip to Chile, and not Argentina.
Chilean President Sebastián Piñera has flattered Bolsonaro’s economic plan, saying in an interview in Spain that “for what I’ve seen in terms of how he will face the issue of development in Brazil, I think he’s got the right focus.”
Piñera also said he felt “legitimate pride” over a comment from Bolsonaro, about wanting to “follow the Chilean model.” However, facing backlash for praising a candidate who has made repeated racist, xenophobic, and sexist comments – to name a few – he clarified he also has “large discrepancies” with the president-elect “when it comes to behavior that it is homophobic, not respectful of women, and shows little commitment to democracy.”
President Macri has not made specific reference to Bolsonaro’s agenda, but Minister Faurie indicated that both heads of state have coinciding stances regarding foreign policy and the decision to, for example, cozy up to Washington and US President Donald Trump. “It is precisely what Argentina has done,” said Faurie in an interview with Clarín.
Faurie met with his future counterpart, Ernesto Fraga Araújo, and assured they found “points of convergence” in the countries’ foreign policy. Perhaps one of the most contentious points, however, will be the future of the Mercosur trading bloc. When talking about this, however, Faurie informed that Macri and Bolsonaro talked about the issue and agreed on the need to open up the economies of the countries comprising the bloc, as well as the bloc itself, to bolster trade with other economic actors.
However, Bolsonaro’s desire to open up the Amazon region to mining, farming, and dam building will prove to be a major obstacle in the signing of the long-negotiated free trade agreement with the European Union. In a joint press conference held along with Macri, French President Emmanuel Macron pointed at Bolsonaro’s potential environmental policies as said obstacle.
- Read More: Macron Points at Bolsonaro’s Potential Policies Regarding Climate Change as Obstacle for Mercosur-EU FTA
“There has been a geopolitical shift in Brazil. They need to adapt to the Paris Agreement. I cannot sign wide-ranging commercial with powers who don’t respect [it]. It puts me in a position where I have to ask my economic actors to make an effort an adapt [to the agreement], but on the other hand, I sign agreements with countries who wouldn’t.”
Bolsonaro had threatened to quit the Paris climate accord, but backtracked. However, Brazil abandoned on Tuesday plans to host crucial UN climate talks in 2019. Bolsonaro’s future Foreign Minister, Néstor Araujo claims “climate alarmism” is part of a cultural Marxist plot.