Fernández cites ‘madness in Brasilia’ when defending democracy at the opening of the CELAC Summit

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Fernández cites ‘madness in Brasilia’ when defending democracy at the opening of the CELAC Summit

In a Buenos Aires full of traffic jams and a lot of police, the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, inaugurated this Tuesday morning (24) the seventh edition of the CELAC Summit (Summit of Latin American and Caribbean States) —although he mistakenly called it the “Summit of the Americas”.

The Argentine leader, in his opening speech, cited the attacks in Brasilia on January 8 as an example of the risks posed to democracy in the region. “We have seen how sectors of the extreme right have risen up and are threatening each of our peoples. We cannot allow this recalcitrant and fascist right to jeopardize the institutions of our peoples,” said Fernández.

“We saw this a few days ago when madness invaded the streets of Brasilia, shortly after President Lula took office”, continued the Argentine in reference to the coup acts in the headquarters of the Three Powers. He also includes in the list the attack suffered by her deputy, Cristina Kirchner, in September, and what he called a coup in Bolivia, alluding to the crises that culminated in the resignation of Evo Morales in 2019.

The opening of the summit takes place the day after the meeting between Fernández and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (PT), in which both presidents renewed their vows of rapprochement between Brazil and Argentina and stated that they had advanced in projects such as a single currency for the bilateral and, eventually, regional trade, and the possibility that Brazil will once again finance engineering works in the neighboring country.

Under Lula, Brazil returns to Celac, a forum inaugurated in 2011, in Chile, and made up of 33 countries from Latin America and the Caribbean, but abandoned by former president Jair Bolsonaro (PL).

The summit has already started marked by a controversy involving the dictator of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro. With a bilateral meeting scheduled with Lula, the Venezuelan changed his plans and did not travel to Argentina. According to the regime, his absence was due to an international “neo-fascist plot”. Argentine government sources said Maduro feared an arrest warrant could be issued.

In recent days, Venezuelan exiles have demonstrated in the Argentine capital against Maduro’s presence. Opposition leaders also protested — Fernández said Maduro was welcome at the summit. The president of the right-wing PRO party, Patricia Bullrich, said that if the Venezuelan went to Buenos Aires, she would request an international arrest warrant from the Argentine justice system due to the allegations of human rights abuses registered in the Caribbean country by various human rights organizations, such as the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.

The CELAC Summit also brings together leaders from Uruguay, Luis Lacalle Pou; from Paraguay, Mario Abdo Benítez; from Chile, Gabriel Boric; from Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel; and from Colombia, Gustavo Petro, among others.

Buenos Aires was just the starting point of Lula’s first international trip since he took on his third term. From there, he travels to Montevideo, where he meets with his Uruguayan counterpart this Wednesday (25).

Economy Minister Fernando Haddad, who is accompanying the presidential delegation, said that the controversial free trade agreement that the neighboring country is negotiating with China will not be on the agenda during the meeting. “In Uruguay, let’s talk about Mercosur. Not about the agreement with China,” he told Sheet in Buenos Aires. “It is a visit to strengthen Mercosur. I believe that South America, its successful destination, passes through the economic bloc. I have no doubts about that.”

The bilateral meeting takes place amid tension in the bloc over Lacalle Pou’s attempts to negotiate trade treaties independently of Mercosur — a possibility that Uruguay has claimed for decades, but which the bloc at first prohibits, since it determines which agreements must be reached by the group partners.

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