New US Ambassador to Argentina Marc R. Stanley presented his credentials to President Alberto Fernández at the Casa Rosada on Monday, formally assuming his post as Washington’s representative in Buenos Aires.
Following the meeting, Stanley had a meeting with the Peronist leader, along with Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero and Cabinet Chief Juan Manzur.
In a statement issued by the US Embassy, the envoy later described the meeting as "excellent," before highlighting the close ties between both nations.
“It is an honour for me to have been chosen to fulfil the tasks of ambassador to a great country like Argentina,” said Stanley. “I look forward to continuing to work to help strengthen the bilateral relationship, one of the strongest and most important in the hemisphere.”
The ambassador’s arrival in Buenos Aires comes just days after he attended a meeting between Cafiero and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington DC, where, among other issues, talks touched on Argentina’s multi-billion-dollar debt with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
President Fernández's decision to receive Stanley personally at the Casa Rosada is notable. Given the context of the coronavirus pandemic, many other national ambassadors who have arrived over the last two years are yet to meet the president personally and delivered their credentials either virtually or in-person to other government officials.
Argentina has for months been seeking a new deal with the IMF to replace the US$57-billion stand-by agreement loan signed by Mauricio Macri's government in 2018. The country has received US$44 billion to date.
The United States, the IMF's main shareholder, is key to a new agreement with Argentina, the institution's main debtor.
Fernández, who upon taking office in 2019 waived the remaining US$13 billion of the loan, and his government is seeking a new financing agreement with the IMF that will reduce Argentina's fiscal deficit through growth, not by cutting public spending. The Peronist leader has vowed not to adopt "austerity" measures as part of any deal.
During his meeting with Cafiero, Blinken "encouraged Argentina to present a sound economic policy framework that will return the country to growth," a spokesman for the US State Department reported.
Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said last Thursday that Washington "expects Argentina to reach an agreement with the IMF" and that it "looked forward to supporting that process."
Stanley, who succeeds former ambassador Edward Prado at Palacio Bosch, arrived in Buenos Aires last Thursday. He was sworn-in as the US government’s official envoy to Argentina last December at his home in Dallas, Texas.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to serve my country,” Stanley said in a statement issued to The Dallas Morning News following his confirmation by the US Senate a few days earlier.
During his confirmation hearing, the Texan lawyer was not shy in voicing his views on Argentina. Responding to questions from lawmakers, he criticised President Fernández’s government, saying the country must do more to tackle human rights abuses in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
"Argentina has not yet joined the United States and others in pressing for meaningful reforms in countries like Venezuela and Cuba and Nicaragua," said the ambassador. “If confirmed, I plan to work with Argentine leaders at all levels to find ways to achieve our common goals of a hemisphere that honours our highest ideals.”
Describing Argentina as “a beautiful country” and comparing it to a “tour bus whose wheels aren’t running properly,” the lawyer also called on the government to outline a “macroeconomic policy framework” that would put the nation on “the road to financial sustainability.”
“The debt to the IMF, US$45 billion, is huge. The issue, however, is that it is the responsibility of the Argentine leadership to develop a macro-[economic] plan to resolve this," he said, referring to the nation’s ongoing talks with the International Monetary Fund over a new financing programme.
Stanley is a civil trial attorney, political activist, Jewish community leader and philanthropist from Dallas, Texas.
His previous roles include spells as chairman of the Texas Public Finance Authority, while he has held board positions for the Air University of the United States Air Force and US Holocaust Memorial Museum. The ambassador has also held roles for a number of Jewish charitable and political organisations, including serving as chair of the National Jewish Democratic Council.
Notably, Stanley chaired the ‘Lawyers for Biden’ group that supported the US president’s successful 2019-2020 campaign.
He is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the Tikkun Olam Award by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
Stanley has been married to his wife Wendy for more than three decades, with the duo donating at least US$1.5 million over the past two decades to Democratic causes, according to The Dallas Morning News. He has three children.