President Alberto Fernández met Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley last Tuesday, along with representatives of other Eastern Caribbean islands, on the last stage of his international tour.
Prime minister since 2018 and re-elected last month with a resounding majority, Mottley is the first woman to head the government of Barbados, which became a republic last November after voting to drop Queen Elizabeth II as the head of state and replace its governor-general with a president serving a four-year term and elected by Parliament.
President Fernández, fresh from his visits to Russia and the People’s Republic of China, was received last Monday afternoon at Grantley Adams international airport (12 kilometres from the capital of Bridgetown) by Barbadian Foreign Minister Jerome Walcott and other officials.
The agenda for Tuesday’s meeting included the problem of climate change with regional technical cooperation in that area, redesigning the international financial architecture to relieve the debt problems of middle-income and poor countries, gender equality and Argentina’s historic Malvinas sovereignty claims.
The president was accompanied by Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero, presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti, presidential advisor Cecilia Nicolini and Río Negro Province Governor Arabela Carreras for the talks.
Following the bilateral encounter, Fernández held a working meeting with the representatives of the Eastern Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Saint Lucia.
The final pit stop did cause some controversy. Environment Minister Juan Cabandié joined the presidential delegation in the final stage of the tour in Barbados due to the climate change issues – a development criticised by Argentina’s opposition.
Cabandié’s trip was made at a complicated time for his portfolio with voracious fires ravaging over 300,000 hectares of the province of Corrientes whose officials denounced asking for help from the Environment Ministry, which responded that "there were no resources."
The minister flew out to Barbados on Sunday with his surprise visit being announced on Tuesday morning. Ministry sources alleged that the trip had been planned some time ago because the Barbados agenda was centred on the climate change issue. They further argued that other officials were covering the Corrientes problem and that help would be sent.
Juntos por el Cambio deputies on Thursday asked the government to report in detail on the expenses of President Fernández during his week-long tour of Russia, China and Barbados. Their request was headed by José Carlos Núñez (PRO-Santa Fe).
"The journey to Russia, China and Barbados by Alberto Fernández and his delegation will go down as a tremendous waste of money. At the wrong time his ‘adventures’ are costing Argentines millions and also displaying once again the inconsistency of his foreign policy. An international disgrace," maintained Núñez.