Continuing a month full of presidential visits, President Alberto Fernández received Ecuadorean leader Guillermo Lasso at the Casa Rosada on Monday morning.
At Government House, the two leaders agreed to launch a “programme of brotherhood in Latin America and the Caribbean,” with both vowing to continue working together under the framework of the CELAC (Comunidad de Estados Latinoamericanos y Caribeños) bloc.
Speaking alongside his Ecuadorean counterpart, Fernández called for a strengthening of "institutional framework” in Latin America, underlining the importance of each nation having “a republican Justice system independent of all the powers that be.”
The two leaders then signed a “Memorandum of Understanding between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade and Worship of the Republic of Argentina and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of the Republic of Ecuador for Cooperation on Consular Matters,” with the objective of maintaining a permanent exchange of information on matters related to consular and migratory policies and regulations of their respective States.
‘The time has come’
In comments that caught attention in diplomatic circles, Fernández also announced that Argentina “wants to regain diplomatic ties” with the Venezuelan government led by President Nicolás Maduro.
“We think that the time has come to talk about Venezuela, and as a first step, Argentina wants to regain its full diplomatic link” with that country, he affirmed.
“As pro-tempore president of CELAC, I call on all the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to rethink the situation in Venezuela, because a difficult time has passed and we believe it is time to help it to fully recover to its normal functioning through dialogue. We will not achieve this if we leave it alone, without ambassadors and without our attention,” Fernández told reporters at a press conference.
“Latin American unity must be achieved,” declared the Peronist leader, who went on to cite the crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, arguing that it could have been navigated in a better way if nations had acted together when purchasing vaccines.
The Argentine leader said that “Latin America needs to take off, once and for all” and, in that sense, highlighted the importance of “recreating full unity so that our people may live better.”
Regarding Fernández's comments on Venezuela, Lasso said that he "sees the call with good eyes," but stressed his government would "analyse and evaluate it."
Lasso, for his part, said that during the meeting both leaders agreed that democracy and the defence of human rights are fundamental elements for society, and agreed with his counterpart on the centrality of the unity of Latin America and the Caribbean.
He also ratified that Ecuador supports the Argentine position on sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands (Falklands).
Fernández also faced questions over Argentina's economic outlook, with the Peronist leader declaring in response that the the economy had "three basic pillars: production, work and distribution.” The first two were growing, he argued, while admitting there is "a problem in distribution derived from inflation.”
“Wages do not manage to catch up with inflation,” the leader explained, hinting that announcements on the subject were on the way.
Lasso, moving onto economic issues, trailed the idea of a free-trade zone to operate "in a more united manner.”
From his Twitter account, Lasso announced that he held a meeting with Toyota executives in Argentina in order to increase investments for the automotive sector in the neighbouring country.
The Ecuadoean leader will continue Tuesday with a visit to Uruguay, where he will meet with President Luis Lacalle Pou.
According to Foreign Ministry data, Argentina ran a trade surplus of over US$190 million with Ecuador last year, exporting over US$504 million there while importing US$313 million. So far this year the surplus has grown dramatically to post over US$70 million only in the first two months of this year with exports of over US$125 million and US$55 million in imports.
Soy flour, grain and vehicles are the main exports while the chief imported items are fruit (including bananas), cacao and other food products.
In closing, Lasso dubbed Fernández “a friend of Ecuador,” asserting that he “appreciated him” and congratulating him on the April 11 birth of Francisco Fernández Yañez.
“[Alberto] is very brave. I would desire God to bless Francisco throughout all his life,” said Lasso.