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Beijing Formally Backs Argentina’s Entry Into the BRICS

July 8 (EIRNS)—In his meeting with Argentine Foreign Minister Santiago Cafiero in Bali, Indonesia where both were attending the meeting of G20 foreign ministers, China’s State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi offered Beijing’s formal support for Argentina’s entry into the BRICS grouping of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The foreign ministry issued a press release to this effect and Cafiero told the state news agency Telam that “China chairs the BRICS this year, and its support and commitment to nominate our country to join is fundamental.” In their meeting, Wang Yi stressed the importance of President Alberto Fernández having attended the BRICS-Plus meeting on June 24 and Argentina having formally entered the Belt and Road Initiative during his visit to Beijing in February of this year.

The two foreign ministers also discussed Argentina’s role as rotating president of the Community of Latin America and Caribbean States (CELAC), from which post it also promotes the China-CELAC Joint Action Plan 2022-2024. According to Argentina’s foreign ministry, Cafiero told Wang Yi that his nation can contribute to the BRICS by strengthening and amplifying a voice in defense of the interests of developing nations.

Telam observed that membership in the BRICS could provide Argentina a way to free itself from the dollar-based financial system and the restrictions it imposes on the country’s macroeconomic development. Argentina is in need of new sources of financing for its large infrastructure projects, Telam adds, and points out that the BRICS are playing a crucial role in “promoting a new international financial architecture through its New Development Bank,” the BRICS bank. The New Development Bank, Cafiero emphasized, “has a key role in international financial cooperation and in promoting the agenda of the Global South and the structural changes it demands.” The Telam article can be read here.

Argentina to Sign MOU Joining the Belt and Road Initiative As Soon As Possible

Argentina Ready to Sign MOU on Joining the Belt and Road Initiative As Soon As Possible

May 28 (EIRNS)–In a lengthy interview with the Spanish-language edition of China Today published May 18, Argentine Ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, underscored that while President Alberto Fernandez was unable to travel to China in early May to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to join the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), he is absolutely committed to doing this as soon as conditions permit him to travel, or alternatively, to sign the MOU virtually during this year’s biannual Belt and Road Forum.

Vaca Narvaja, who is an expert on China, noted that of course Argentina seeks to maintain a positive, “mature” relationship with the Biden administration, but pointed out that China is Argentina’s “main investor and financier.” China’s strict protocol for quarantining foreign visitors makes it difficult for the President to travel right now, because of the time this would involve, but, he continued, “it’s an option to sign the MOU for the Belt and Road if the President’s trip is put off much longer. We want to sign it as soon as possible because we already announced it, and because our government’s decision is to deepen even further its relations with China.” The bilateral relationship “is central for our President,” he said. “China is one of the countries at the top of his travel agenda.”

China and Argentina, he said, are about to renew a five-year development perspective including 16 to 20 development projects worth $30 billion, to be presented soon to China’s National Development and Reform Commission and to the Argentine Foreign and Finance ministries.. Those projects include railroad construction, telecommunications, energy–including a new nuclear plant with China’s Hualong technology–science and technology, “everything that has to do with bioceanic corridors…and working on the possibility of improving our rail lines and highways to have access to both the Atlantic and Pacific.” In this context, he emphasized the necessity of Latin America forging its own economic integration, having a long term development perspective just as China does, and pointed to ASEAN and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) as examples of Asian integration. “If we don’t integrate and begin to think on a level of scale, our relationship will be more difficult,” he warned.

“China is a sufficiently large market for us to think about a continental strategy and this must be a policy of state for our governments,” he insisted. ”Our relationship with China should be an excuse to work for the long term in the region.” Latin America, he said, “should have its own Belt and Road and its own infrastructure plan linked to [China’s] Belt and Road Initiative.” China’s economy and those of Latin American nations are complementary, so, he emphasized, “we have a lot of potential for joint development and the Belt and Road Initiative is the most ambitious infrastructure plan for humanity.”

Chinese and Argentine Labs to Produce Sinopharm Vaccine in Argentina

Chinese and Argentine Labs Sign Deal to Produce Sinopharm Vaccine in Argentina

May 7 (EIRNS)–The Chinese embassy in Argentina together with Health Minister Carla Vizzotti announced May 5 that the Argentina laboratory Sinergium Biotech has signed an agreement with China’s state-run Sinopharm company by which Sinergium will produce the Sinopharm vaccine at its facility in Buenos Aires. The announcement was made following a high-level meeting including Chinese ambassador, Zou Xiaoli, Vizzotti, special presidential adviser Cecilia Nicolini, the Argentine ambassador in Beijing, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, and top executives from Sinergium labs and Sinopharm. According to the daily {Dangdai} the same day, the Chinese embassy tweeted that “the pharmaceutical companies of both nations will immediately begin consultations to get production started as soon as possible….As always, the Chinese embassy in Argentina will support the efforts of both countries to combat the pandemic, and will help Sinopharm in its close collaboration [with Argentina], so as to elevate the Chinese-Argentine response to this health emergency.” The plan is for Sinopharm to send the first batch of antigens to Argentina in June, so that Sinergium can begin to produce up to one million doses of the vaccine per week.

Amidst Haitian-Dominican Tensions, Schiller Institute Plan for Haiti Cracks Open Debate of ‘What Is to Be Done’

Nov. 2, 2021 (EIRNS)—As the security situation in Haiti worsens, with armed gangs continuing to prevent fuel distribution, and kidnapping and killing citizens from all walks of life, tensions between the governments of Haiti and the Dominican Republic have reached a dangerous high. Yesterday, Dominican President Luis Abinader issued an urgent tweet calling on the international community to respond to the Haitian security crisis, naming the U.S., Canada, France, and the EU in particular, for failing to respond to cries for help. Foreign Minister Roberto Alvarez also tweeted that the President has repeatedly called for the international community to organize summits to discuss the crisis in Haiti and map out a response, to no avail. No one has responded, the daily Listin Diario, reported him saying today. Haiti’s Foreign Minister, Claude Joseph, meanwhile responded to both Abinader’s and Alvarez’s tweets by calling on both countries to work together to deal with insecurity that affects them both, pointing to a recent State Department alert that also warned of growing crime and insecurity in the Dominican Republic. He urged Americans to exercise caution should they travel to Haiti’s neighbor on the island of Hispaniola. 

Tensions are intensifying, however. While 12,000 Dominican soldiers are deployed at the border with Haiti, President Abinader announced Nov. 1 that he will take a tougher stance on Haitians entering the country illegally, on enforcing existing laws, preventing women more than six months pregnant from entering the country. He threatened to deport thousands of undocumented Haitians who work in construction and agriculture. There is a good deal of fear mongering from the Dominican side that Haitian gangs may try to invade the country, leading the former head of the Army, Jorge Radhames Zorrilla, and the organization of retired Generals and Admirals to offer their services to help “defend national sovereignty.” 

It is noteworthy that in the midst of this tense situation, the Schiller Institute’s Plan for the Development of Haiti, whose English-, Spanish-, and French-language editions have circulated widely throughout Ibero-America and the Caribbean, including in both the Dominican Republic and Haiti, has set off something of a firestorm in the Twittersphere, changing the terms of the conversation. After Pope Francis issued a tweet Oct. 31 (@Pontifex_es) calling on people to pray for Haiti and urging the international community not to abandon it, and a Schiller Institute organizer responded that the mission established by Lyndon LaRouche after the 2010 earthquake “can and must be carried out, including with China, to lift Haiti out of its overwhelming poverty and convert it to an economic development model for the Western Hemisphere and the world,” and included the link to the Spanish-language version of the Haiti program. 

This set off a series of other tweets from people of many different countries around the region, as far south as Argentina, including elected officials, lawyers, church officials, and academics, all commenting or making proposals on how to proceed, taking off from the Schiller organizer’s remarks. This included attacking the U.S. for its years of military invasions and imposing neoliberalism on Haiti. The Argentine respondent noted that the Schiller proposal “is a good one,” but added that Haiti’s location unfortunately “makes it politically conditioned by the U.S.” One LaRouche organizer pointed out to one tweeter that the program for Haiti is in fact a comprehensive program that can be applied to any country of the region, taking into account national differences, but starting from the standpoint that what’s needed is a “new paradigm of international relations.” 

Argentina To Produce Sputnik V Vaccine – 1st Ibero-American Nation To Do So

Argentina To Produce the Sputnik V Vaccine, the First Ibero-American Nation To Do So

April 21 (EIRNS)—In an April 20 press release, the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), Russia’s sovereign wealth fund, announced that its partner, Argentina’s Laboratorios Richmond, had produced a test batch of 21,000 doses of the Sputnik V vaccine, the first Ibero-American nation to do so. Samples will be sent to Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology, which first developed Sputnik V, where they will undergo quality control tests, and once those are completed, Richmond will plan to gear up for mass production by June if all goes well. Quoted in the press release, RDIF CEO Kirill Dmitriev said that Argentina was the first Ibero-American nation to approve emergency use authorization of Sputnik V, and now, thanks to technology transfer to Richmond labs from RDIF and its partners, production has begun. “The vaccine produced in Argentina can then be exported to other nations of Central and South America,” he said.

In remarks to Telam news agency, government sources cautioned that the next steps in the production process will be “complex and challenging,” explaining that “as this is a biological process, there could be some delays and difficulties until we reach optimal levels…. We’re betting on [producing] the best vaccine in the world, but in the short term, let’s be cautious.” A medium-term perspective would be “for year’s end to produce 100% of the vaccine,” the officials said.

Marcelo Figueiras, CEO of Laboratorios Richmond, stressed he is proud to have the support of the RDIF “that trusted in our scientific and technical platform to produce the Sputnik V vaccine in Argentina. We celebrate this recognition that we will reward with work, commitment and professionalism, to facilitate availability of the vaccine in the shortest possible time for Argentina and the entire Latin American region,” the daily Página 12 reported him as saying in its April 20 edition. President Alberto Fernández expressed his great pride in this achievement, expressing that “Argentina has become the first country of the region to launch the production of Sputnik V thanks to the partnership between RDIF and Laboratorios Richmond. Sputnik V is approved in more than 10 countries of Latin and Central America and production in Argentina will help facilitate deliveries to other partners in the region. It will be a great opportunity to advance in the fight against the pandemic,” not only for Argentina but for the entire region.

Argentina Seeks China’s Help in Negotiations With the IMF; Talk of Joint Five-Year Infrastructure Plan

April 2 (EIRNS)–Argentine ambassador to China, Sabino Vaca Narvaja, has met with high level Chinese government officials in Beijing “to ask for that country’s support in the national government’s negotiations with the IMF, seeking an extension of payment terms and reduction in interest rates,” the daily Dangdai reported April 1, citing embassy sources.  Dangdai generally reports on Sino-Argentine relations, and touches on China’s relations with other Ibero-American countries to a lesser degree.

The Telam news agency reported that Vaca Narvaja met with the Foreign Ministry’s director of the Latin American and Caribbean Department, Cai Wei, with whom he discussed President Alberto Fernandez’s desire to refinance the $45 billion standby loan contracted by former President Mauricio Macri in 2018. Further citing embassy sources, Dangdai reported that Vaca Narvaja’s meeting included a discussion of the invitation to President Fernandez to make a state visit to China, now scheduled for early May, during which he is expected to sign a Memorandum of Understanding to join the Belt and Road Initiative. A review of the two nations’ bilateral agenda, Dangdai noted, focused on a series of infrastructure investment projects which both governments prioritize and which would be integrated into a joint Five Year Plan. Especially interesting was the discussion on the use of national currencies for trade and investment, including “an evaluation of productive and industrial projects that could be financed in renminbi, a currency which could be used subsequently to meet foreign payments to China.”

It should be noted that the IMF’s 2018 standby loan, which was originally for $57 billion, but whose last tranche Fernandez refused to accept after he became President, was granted by then IMF Managing Director Christine “Lady Gaga” Lagarde largely for political reasons to prop up the sagging Macri government and the brutal austerity program he was implementing in hopes he might be able to be reelected. Argentine authorities are in fact conducting a criminal investigation into the fraudulent way the loan was contracted and used–most of it ending up as capital flight and vastly expanding the amount of debt Argentina cannot pay. The loan violated Argentina’s constitutional norms as well as the IMF’s own internal regulations. Macri himself, his two former Central Bank presidents and two former finance ministers, are all under investigation.

Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency Formally Launched

July 27, 2021 (EIRNS)—During the July 24 summit of foreign ministers of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (Celac), held in Mexico City, five nations joined with Mexico to officially establish the Latin American and Caribbean Space Agency (AECL). Mexico, Argentina, Ecuador, Bolivia, Paraguay, and Costa Rica are the current signatories, but when Celac heads of state meet in September, it is expected that several more governments will sign on. When a preliminary agreement on AECL’s founding was reached last October, participants expressed great optimism that space exploration and related technological and scientific developments and spin offs would be the best way to address the poverty and underdevelopment affecting all their nations.

The same sentiment was expressed by the foreign ministers who signed on July 24, according to Forbes Mexico the same day. The agency’s creation, said Ecuador’s foreign minister, Mauricio Montalvo, is the result of the “coordinated and harmonious work” within Celac which will “certainly be of benefit to all of our societies.” Costa Rican foreign minister Rodolfo Solano added that “in the case of Costa Rica, together with nations like Mexico, I find no more responsible way to celebrate 200 years of independent life than to think of the next 200 years, and see space as the frontier to be conquered.” And addressing the skeptics, or those who ask why poor nations think space exploration is an option, Paraguay’s foreign minister, Euclides Acevedo, put it this way: “We may not yet have satellites to place in orbit, but we are beginning to place in orbit those enemies of success, those apostles of failure, the mediocre and the resentful.”