Presidents and prime ministers of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean are scheduled to attend the 7th Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on January 24. Argentina is the host country this year because it holds the pro tempore presidency of the CELAC.
However, a situation has arisen that threatens to bar the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro; of Cuba, Miguel Díaz-Canel; and of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, from setting foot in Argentina and attending the summit, and the Argentinian government has not yet clarified its position on the matter. This situation has come about as the Argentinian right wing has filed a complaint for alleged crimes against humanity against the three presidents before a court in the Argentinian capital.
The Argentinian opposition has severely criticized President Alberto Fernández for allegedly “opening his arms to Bolivarian dictators” despite his government’s very clear vacillations of position especially when it comes to Venezuela and Nicaragua.
Patricia Bullrich, president of the extreme right Republican Proposal (PRO) party, which is the party of former President Mauricio Macri, went further and called for the arrest of President Maduro “for having committed crimes against humanity.” It is ironic that Bullrich complains of crimes against humanity, when she has been accused of crimes against humanity herself for sending weapons of war to the Jeanine Áñez regime in Bolivia after the coup in 2019, to help that coup regime to suppress protests. It has been alleged that those weapons had been used by the Bolivian security forces to commit the Sacaba and Senkata massacres, the trials for which are going on in Bolivia. Bullrich was the minister of security of Argentina during President Macri’s term.
The Macrista opposition of Argentina is furious with President Alberto Fernández who, as the pro tempore president of the CELAC, has invited all the heads of states of the forum for the summit to be held in the Argentinian capital. The right-wing opposition, using its parliamentary seats and its affiliation with the judiciary, has filed a complaint against the three presidents that it considers “dictators,” claiming that their presence in Argentina will be a threat to the “democratic spirit” of the country.
Two complaints, same content
Two complaints have been filed against the presidents of Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua before the controversial Argentinian judiciary that has carried out a lawfare against Argentinian Vice President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner as well as one against Venezuela, in the case of the cargo plane belonging to Venezuelan state airline Conviasa’s subsidiary Emtrasur.
The first complaint was filed by the self-styled Argentinian Forum for Democracy in the Region (FADER). “FADER wants to express its deep concern for the invitation that President Alberto Fernández made to these three dictators,” the complaint stated. “We hold that it is a provocation for the entire Argentinian society that respects, values and wishes to live in a democracy.”
The second complaint was filed by Argentinian Congress-members belonging to the Macrismo-allied Radical Civic Union (UCR) bloc, a party that had endorsed the 2019 coup in Bolivia. “This year, Argentina celebrates 40 years of uninterrupted democracy,” UCR stated in its complaint. “In this context, the presence of Maduro, Ortega and Díaz-Canel in our country is a clear setback that forces us to remain on alert in defense of democracy, human rights and the Constitution.”
— Mario Raúl Negri (@marioraulnegri) January 18, 2023
Neither of the complaints has any legal basis. They only use political arguments to reinforce the same old discourse of “dictatorship” against Cuba, Venezuela and Nicaragua that Washington holds.
Ambiguous response of Fernández government
The Argentinian government will receive any “democratically” elected president, emphasized presidential spokesperson Gabriela Cerruti when asked about the possible presence of President Nicolás Maduro at the summit.
“Argentina is part of the group of democratic nations and, of course, will receive the presidents that each country elects democratically, to carry out the talks and discussions that need to be carried out,” Cerruti stated on Friday, January 20, in statements to Radio El Destape.
Although the presence of the Venezuelan president has not yet been confirmed, the usual ambiguity of the Argentinian government regarding Venezuela makes room for endless interpretations.
During her radio interview, Cerruti stated that Argentina condemned human rights violations in Venezuela “when it had to do so,” while highlighting the ongoing dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the right-wing opposition bloc Unitary Platform.
It is expected that Macrismo, famous for actively promoting the collapse of UNASUR, suspending Venezuela from MERCOSUR, and participating in the US-led hybrid war against Venezuela when Macri was the president of Argentina, would try to undermine any regional integration attempt, and especially one that is promoted by Venezuela. However, the more visible problem in Argentina’s reconciliation with Venezuela has been the Fernández administration’s ambiguity regarding Venezuela. This was especially perceptible in the case of the Emtrasur cargo plane, which remains grounded to this day in the international airport of Buenos Aires under court orders and US instructions.
Despite everything, even if he is in favor of Venezuela or not, even if he adopts—or does not adopt—a firm position against the Maduro government’s alleged crimes, it seems that Alberto Fernández will have to bear the brunt of the Macrista opposition for having invited President Maduro to the CELAC Summit.
Attack on regional integration
The upcoming CELAC summit will be the first since Lula’s victory in Brazil and the definitive breakdown of the so-called Lima group—two elements that reflect the change in the correlation of forces in the region.
This summit, coming in the middle of the recovery of the Pink Tide in Latin America, aims at overcoming differences in favor of development and well-being of the peoples of the region, with a view to achieving regional integration. Thus, the onslaught of the Argentinian political-judicial right wing represents an unprecedented attack against regional integration efforts.
Translation: Orinoco Tribune