domingo, 10 de enero de 2016

Entrevista: "Macri denuncia a Venezuela para enviar un mensaje a Estados Unidos"


Leandro Morgenfeld, historian specialized un US- Argentino relantions.   Sunday, January 10, 2016

"Macri denounces Venezuela to send a message to the US"


By Santiago Del Carril
Buenos Aires Herald

Born: December 9, 1977
Birthplace: Buenos Aires City
Education: PhD in History from Buenos Aires University (UBA), Master’s in Economic History (UBA)
Jobs: History professor at UBA, researcher at Conicet, Editor of Ciclos, an academic journal on Argentine foreign policy
Sports: Basketball and running
Books written: Dangerous relations, Argentina and the United States; Neighbours in Conflict: Argentina and the United States in the Panamerican conferences (1880-1955); The FTAA: Who is interested?
At the young age of 37, historian Leandro Morgenfeld has quickly become one of the foremost experts on how foreign relations between the United States and Argentina have evolved since the 19th century, publishing several books and articles on the issue. 

Over a glass of lemonade in the Buenos Aires City neighbourhood of Villa Crespo, Morgenfeld explained to the Herald why he thinks Argentina’s foreign policy has historically served the country best when it was independent and warned of the possible negative consequences if President Mauricio Macri chooses to sacrifice that stance. 

Why did you specialize in Argentine-US relations?

When I was getting my PhD, I wanted to research the Free Trade Area of the Americas (ALCA), but my adviser said it would be difficult because there wasn’t a lot of available declassified archives. Instead, he suggested I look into the first effort at a free trade agreement in the Pan-American union meetings in the 1880s between Latin American countries and the US.

What was Argentina’s position in the Pan-American negotiations?

It was the foremost objector because its economy was much more linked to Europe. The only thing that survived was the pan-american union that later became the OAS (Organization of American States).
How would you describe trade relations between Argentina and the US?
Historically, Argentina’s problem since 1920 is that it can’t get its major exports into the US due to boycotts from the US agriculture sector. In 1926, the US government imposed sanitary regulations using the threat of disease as an excuse and it’s still doing the same thing. This is a form of protectionism. The US says it’s in favour of free trade but then uses bureaucratic mechanisms to limit imports.

Is this the same issue that prevented the ALCA from moving forward?

Partly, yes. The US wanted to have free trade but didn’t want to remove subsidies to their agriculture sector. It’s the same issue that is complicating trade negotiations between Mercosur and Europe now.
And what does the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) mean for Argentina?
One of the main objectives of the TPP is to contain the growth of China in Latin America. Macri says that Argentina should join the Alliance of the Pacific and eventually sign the TPP. But this is dangerous if the countries that join don’t eliminate their agriculture subsidies while they call on Argentina to eliminate them for manufactured goods.

Does China really present a challenge to US influence in Latin America?

Yes. There is still more US investment but Chinese investments are becoming more important and ambitious. China has become the top trade partner of many Latin American countries as well as its primary lender. While the US still has two great multilateral lending institutions allowing it to still have hegemonic influence, this new Chinese money is challenging that.

How do US politics affect Argentina’s relationship with the US?

Paul Singer (whose hedge fund is pursuing a lawsuit against Argentina in US courts due to the 2001 default) is the leading donor of the Republican Party. He has enormous capacity to lobby Congress. And lawmakers that aren’t supported by Singer don’t have much to gain by supporting Argentina.

Why do you think Macri changed Argentina’s foreign policy toward Venezuela?

Because he wants to cater to the US. I think that when he denounces Venezuela, calling for the release of political prisoners, he’s really sending a message to the United States. He’s overacting Argentina’s new alignment with the US.

And what does he gain from this?

It’s because he follows a Neoconservative philosophy, advised by his political and foreign policy experts, that Argentina has historically done well economically when it has had a friendly relationship with the great powers. But historically this policy has only helped a minority of the country’s population.

How do you see Foreign Minister Susana Malcorra’s first month in office?

It’s very worrying because she is breaking the tradition of first discussing foreign policy decisions with Brazil and then the rest of the Mercosur region. And this precedent will hurt future negotiations because you lose the strength of negotiating as a bloc. When she says you have to remove ideology from foreign policy, what she really means is to be dependent on the agenda of the great powers.

What makes for good foreign policy?

I think a good foreign policy is one that focuses on emancipation, and coordinating with other Latin American countries.
The idea that Argentina will save itself by selling a few goods to China, US or Europe is worrying. Argentina needs to promote more independence with countries at a global level. It should not be submissive. I think the previous administration’s effort to pursue an independent foreign policy should be recognized.

Do you see a shift in the sovereignty claim over the Malvinas Islands under Macri?

Macri’s administration wants to strengthen relations with the UK. Although the government will continue to insist on sovereignty over the Malvinas, it really is just a formality. Macri has publicly questioned why Argentina puts so much effort on a small pair of islands, when it’s such a large country that has more important issues. There is a ‘de-Malvinazation’ in Argentina’s foreign policy when I think it should be the reverse. We need to make it difficult for the UK to keep hold of the islands. Otherwise, they will maintain the colonial system.


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