Alberto Fernández renews contact with key foreign embassies
Frente de Todos presidential frontrunner and his team of advisers look to renew contact with key foreign embassies and diplomats, including the United States, the United Kingdom and members of the European Union.
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Frente de Todos presidential frontrunner Alberto Fernández confirmed last Thursday that he has already made direct contact, via WhatsApp, with the US Ambassador to Argentina, Edward Prado.
According to the candidate who won the most votes in last month's PASO primaries, and as confirmed by the ambassador's diplomatic headquarters in Buenos Aires to Perfil, Ambassador Prado informed him directly, via a message on WhatsApp, of Washington's decision to finance projects in Argentina worth more than US$600 million via the US government's development finance institution, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC).
Fernández thanked the ambassador for the gesture and was pleased enough to relay the story last week during an interview with C5N. However, that is not the only contact that's been made between the presidential hopeful and the embassies from the world's most powerful nations, according to sources contacted by Perfil.
While the balance is delicate and everyone knows that Fernández is the favourite to win October's presidential election, he remains no more than a candidate, for now at least.
The key for diplomats is to define what policies an administration led by Alberto Fernández would adopt.
"The affinity with this current government is not personal, towards the figure of President Mauricio Macri, but with the policies he carried out. So it is important to know what orientation Alberto will take if he wins," explained one experienced foreign diplomat.
The embassies of European Union nations in Buenos Aires have previously, for the most part, sought joint meetings with Argentina's presidential candidates, in order to learn their plans for the country's future. Several held meetings with Consenso Federal leader Roberto Lavagna and ex-Tigre mayor Sergio Massa before he threw in his presidential bid and signed up to stand as a Frente de Todos lawmaker in October's election.
According to several sources, most European nations have not yet held a meeting with Fernández. In many cases, the embassies have sought to compensate for a lack of direct contact with the candidate by holding talks with members of his technical team or with diplomats who are likely to take on senior positions within a Frente de Todos foreign ministry.
An interesting development of late, given Brexit and the United Kingdom's impending exit from the European Union, is that the UK Ambassador to Argentina, Mark Kent, this month stopped participating in the EU's meetings. Does he have a direct line to Alberto? From the diplomat's headquarters, they say no. "We observe the process [that's ongoing], ready to work with any government chosen by the Argentines," they responded.
A key issue for bilateral relations with London remains whether Fernández will return to the confrontational approach that marked the two government's led by former president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, his vice-presidential running-mate.
Up until now, there has been only one statement from the candidate on the issue: a document signed by Alberto Fernaández and the Governor-elect of Tierra del Fuego Province, Gustavo Melella (who is due to take office in December 2019). Included in the statement was included a point criticising the Mauricio Macri administration's agreements with the United Kingdom regarding the identification of buried fallen Argentine soldiers on the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands and a new flight to the disputed islands which will stopover in Córdoba, among other points.
One crucial detail, however. The document was disseminated by Melella – not by the presidential candidate himself.