US President Joe Biden’s nominee for ambassador to Argentina criticised President Alberto Fernández’s government during a Senate confirmation hearing on Tuesday, saying the country must do more to tackle human rights abuses in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua.
Marc Stanley, the Texas lawyer chosen to be Washington’s next envoy in Buenos Aires, also said that Argentina’s leaders are responsible for any financing deal with the International Monetary Fund, as he called for a full “macroeconomic policy framework” from the Peronist administration to put the nation on “the road to financial sustainability” in a hearing outlining his likely approach to bilateral relations.
"Argentina is a beautiful country. It's a beautiful tourist bus whose wheels aren’t running properly," Stanley told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“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 and they have not done so yet, they say one will come soon."
Stanley observed that Argentina’s Strategic Affairs Strategy Gustavo Beliz had recently visited the White House to meet with Biden’s National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and that the US State Department wanted to find “constructive ways to help” Argentina.
"But in the end," he said, "it's up to them to come up with a macroeconomic plan to get back on track."
In his testimony, Stanley observed that Argentina's “long history of economic instability has taken a toll on its productivity and competitiveness.”
The lawyer also took issue with Argentina’s foreign policy approach in Latin America, saying the country was not doing enough to protect human rights in the region.
"Argentina has not yet joined the United States and others in pressing for meaningful reforms in countries like Venezuela and Cuba and Nicaragua," said Stanley.
"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," he declared.
“Argentina and the United States enjoy a longstanding relationship founded on our fidelity to
democracy, prosperity, security, and the protection of human rights across the Americas,” said the nominee.
Moving onto other topics, Stanley said there is evidence of “clear corruption” and money-laundering on the so-called ‘Triple Frontier’ region between criminals in Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Washington is “totally” determined to tackle the issue, said the potential envoy.
Stanley also warned against China's influence, especially in relation to 5G technology, saying advances in “below market technology” were allowing the government in Beijing “to access all data and information among Argentina’s people.”
"If confirmed [as envoy], I will work with Argentine partners to uphold the rule of law and live up to the highest environmental, social, privacy, and labour standards worldwide," he promised.
Stanley’s nomination has yet to be confirmed by the committee. It is unclear when the full Senate will vote on the issue, with Republicans seeking to stall dozens of State Department nominees.