Argentina’s New Foreign Policy: Who’s Advising Fernandez

Jorgelina do Rosario and Eric Martin

(Bloomberg) -- Argentina’s President-elect Alberto Fernandez isn’t showing any signs of moderating his foreign policy stance before he takes office in a month. This weekend, he will host a group of leftist politicians in Buenos Aires.

Fernandez was one of the first to praise the likely liberation of Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva from jail. He held a lengthy four-hour lunch with Mexico’s President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador in his first trip abroad since the elections. And on Saturday he’ll be the key speaker of the Puebla Group, a body created in July that brings together left-wing leaders from the region.

Read More: Argentina’s Fernandez Set to Shake Up Policy With U.S. and More

Former presidents such as Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff, Uruguay’s Jose Mujica, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo and Spain’s Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero are some of the higher-profile members of this self-proclaimed progressive group that will be discussing priorities for the region during a weekend meeting in Buenos Aires, concluding with a statement on Sunday. On the agenda are topics such as climate change, migration and regional growth.

“The Puebla Group is one I’ve supported even before being a presidential candidate,” Fernandez said in Mexico. “It’s a group designed to fix problems in Latin America. Nothing more than that.”

Fernandez hasn’t made clear yet whether he’ll remain in the Lima Group of nations who support Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido. Argentina’s decision on Venezuela could hurt its standing with U.S. President Donald Trump and challenge its ability to renegotiate a $56 billion credit line with the International Monetary Fund.

Fernandez, who takes office Dec. 10, has yet to announce who will be his foreign minister. Until then, these are Fernandez’s point people on foreign policy matters, who don’t act as a unified team:

Felipe Sola

Sola, 69, is one of Fernandez’s closest advisers, and travels with him in every trip abroad. An agricultural engineer, he is a national congressman since 2009 and was governor of the province of Buenos Aires during Nestor Kirchner’s presidency. Before that, he was agriculture minister between 1993 and 1999.

“I’m slowly getting used to the idea of ​​being the foreign affairs minister,” Sola said during an interview with a local radio station.

Though his role isn’t yet defined, he hasn’t hesitated to make statements on Argentina’s foreign policy. During Fernandez’s visit to Mexico, Sola said that the country won’t change its view on the situation in Venezuela due to the debt with the Fund.

Jorge Arguello

Arguello, 63, is Argentina’s former ambassador to the United Nations, the U.S. and Portugal. Born in Cordoba province, he is a lawyer and a career diplomat. Arguello is a friend of Fernandez for 40 years, though he hasn’t participated in his international trips so far this year.

Before that, he was a two-time Buenos Aires City lawmaker. He is the president of Fundacion Embajada Abierta, a consulting firm in Buenos Aires. In a recent article originally published in Le Monde Diplomatique, he defined Argentina as a “country that plays under the rules imposed by others” and that must organize its international agenda with a delicate balance between its own national interests and consensus with other nations.

Marco Enriquez-Ominami

Chile’s three-time presidential candidate Marco Enriquez-Ominami, 46, is also close to Fernandez and has been influencing his international agenda. Although he defines himself as a friend and not a adviser, he has traveled this year with the Argentine leader to Spain and Mexico.

Shifting between English, Spanish and French, he was seen most recently at the lobby of the Camino Real hotel in Mexico City, talking about details of the upcoming Puebla Group meeting in Buenos Aires, which he’ll also be attending.

Enriquez-Ominami, a Congressman from 2006 to 2010, is a Puebla Group founder and a member of the Partido Progresista in Chile. He lived in Paris for more than a decade.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jorgelina do Rosario in Buenos Aires at jdorosario@bloomberg.net;Eric Martin in Mexico City at emartin21@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Carolina Millan at cmillanronch@bloomberg.net, Walter Brandimarte

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.