President Obama’s Argentina visit involves taking in some of the country’s sights and addressing some recent issues. During a speech with Argentinian President Mauricio Macri, Obama slammed Ted Cruz for his remarks suggesting that the United States “patrol Muslim neighborhoods,” calling the proposal un-American and “contrary to our values.”
“I just left a country that engages in that kind of surveillance which, by the way, the father of Senator Cruz escaped, to America, the land of the free,” President Obama said during his Argentina visit today.
Obama visits Argentina in the midst of a heated presidential primary stateside and a serious terror attack in Brussels just yesterday. Both are clearly on the president’s mind as he speaks with Argentinian leaders.
“I’ve got a lot of things on my plate, but my top priority is to defeat ISIL and to eliminate the scourge of this barbaric terrorism that’s been taking place around the world. There’s no more important item on my agenda than going after them and defeating them. The issue is, how do we do it in an intelligent way?” said President Obama, speaking with an assembled press corps during his Argentina visit.
President Obama visits Argentina in a time of great change for the South American nation. President Mauricio Macri has attempted to improve relations with the United States after several decades. Ideological differences between the United States and Argentina have fueled tensions in the past, but Obama’s visit to Argentina illustrates the dedication of both countries to develop a new and improved relationship.
“This is a historic opportunity for a new relationship, a new chapter,” said Marcos Pena, the chief of the cabinet for President Mauricio Macri, while speaking with reporters.
Obama visits a new Argentina that is making a move toward centrism — even center-right, some commentators observe, after decades of being a leftist stronghold and ally to nations like Venezuela under Hugo Chavez.
“Obama is working like a sort of pendulum, he’s going to the Communist regime that is transforming itself, and then he’s coming to [Argentina] the new right-of-center regime,” said Carlos Escude, a foreign policy adviser to former Argentinian president Carlos Saul Menem.
President Mauricio Macri has made attempts to modernize Argentina’s economy, pushing for capitalist reforms with market-oriented civic policies while hoping to reinvigorate Argentina’s sluggish economy. Obama visits Argentina amid international interest in the South American country. The New York Times reports that China has recently had an interest in Argentina and has sought to make an economic foothold in the country.
Further, Obama’s visit to Argentina not only signals a new phase in U.S.-Argentinian relations, but Obama seeks to close a chapter and bring closure to the people of Argentina, many of whom were displaced or mistreated during the dictatorship that ruled the country from 1976 to 1983, a time which saw dissidents disappear by the thousands. President Obama will formally order the declassification of United States Military and intelligence files that might shed some light on the human rights violations endured by the Argentinian people during that brutal period of dictatorship.
Obama, speaking to current concerns during his Argentina visit, addressed the issue of the Brussels attacks and the remarks made by Republican candidates Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, stating that Ted Cruz’s proposal to patrol Muslim neighborhoods and Trump’s suggestion that the borders be shut to refugees would be counterproductive.
“When I hear someone say we should carpet-bomb Iraq and Syria, not only is that inhumane, not only is that contrary to our values, but it’s also an extraordinary mechanism for ISIL to recruit more members. Patriotic Muslim Americans are the antibodies we have to resist terrorism,” President Obama said during his Argentina visit.
[Photo by Victor R. Caivano/AP]