LATIN-AMERICA NATIONAL POLITICS

Boric leaves Argentina with joint commitments to strengthen ties

Chile’s President Gabriel Boric’s first state visit to Argentina has focused on increasing cooperation. Boric and his counterpart Alberto Fernández have signed several agreements. During his two-day visit, Boric met with business leaders, members of Argentina’s cabinet, and took part in cultural events.

With his first state visit after taking office in March, Chile’s President Gabriel Boric wanted to boost relations with Argentina. Boric’s visit ended on Tuesday evening, after several meetings with Argentine cabinet members and business leaders, and talks with President Alberto Fernández

During a joint press conference in Buenos Aires on Apr. 4, Boric said “we face challenges that are deeply shared.” According to media reports, both leaders signed agreements related to human rights and gender equality, among others.

Tensions ran high during the Piñera administration. In April 2020, Fernández participated in an online meeting with Chilean left-wing opposition leaders, saying “ditch your differences so that you can regain power.” In response, Argentina’s ambassador was summoned to explain the comment to Chilean authorities.

During the Monday press conference, Boric said he found “an ally and a confidante” in Fernández. Both leaders committed to cooperation on climate, migration, Covid-19 and energy. Boric expressed his will to “go beyond diplomatic agreements, [as] it is how we recover a leading voice for Latin America in international forums.”

Investors should deepen their engagement with Chile, as investments rose last year. “Working with greater collaboration and integration is very important,” Boric said during a business forum on Tuesday. Also, human rights should become a focal point in bilateral trade, he said. “We are convinced that the start of these talks will make it possible to generate new cooperation, exchange and twinning mechanisms,” Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero added.

History

Boric visited the monument of José San Martín, commemorating the Embrace of Maipú in 1818 , when San Martín and Bernardo O’Higgins jointly defeated the colonial troops.

To commemorate more recent history, Boric visited the ESMA torture site Argentina’s dictatorship operated from 1976 to 1983. And before taking part in a cultural event, he stopped to talk to protesters in the streets about the Chileans who were imprisoned during the 2019/2020 social outbreak.

Both countries’ Lower House and Senate leaders also met. Respectively, Chile’s Raúl Soto and Álvaro Elizalde and Argentina’s Sergio Massa and Claudia Ledesma discussed several opportunities for cooperation.

Just before the visit, Chile’s Interior Minister Izkia Siches referred to Mapuche land by using the indigenous term Wallmapu, which also covers Argentine territory. Argentine authorities expressed consternation, but Fernández said Monday the episode had not generated any confusion, as Boric immediately reached out and clarified the situation.

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