Pedro Sánchez found himself with a more than unexpected ally in the race against time to close the agreement between Mercosur and the European Union (EU): the Argentine Javier Milei.
Unlike his friend and political partner Alberto Fernandez, who will refuse this Thursday, during the Mercosur Summit in Rio de Janeiro, to sign the agreement, the ultra-liberal Milei is in favor. The Peronist Fernández thus breaks the unity of Mercosur, since Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay want to sign, and frustrates his friend Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, president of Brazil, who wanted to close his six months at the head of Mercosur by signing together with Sánchez on behalf of both blocs. It frustrates, too, Sanchez.
"We are going to deploy a strategy to move forward as soon as possible" in the signing of the agreement, Diana Mondino, Milei's designated foreign minister, told "El Cronista."
That, however, will only be possible from Sunday the 10th, once Milei is president. Despite Mondino's efforts, Fernandez and his foreign minister, Santiago Cafiero, refuse to sign this Thursday 7 in Rio.
"The proposal has a very negative impact on the Mercosur industry," Cafiero argued.
Deputy Fernando Iglesias, president of the Mercosur commission in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies, pointed out to EL MUNDO the contradictions of Argentina's position: "If Lula, who is notoriously a leftist and was a metalworker in Sao Paulo, South America's main industrial hub, considers the agreement beneficial, I think Fernández should be a little more careful in his positions."
"A very short window of opportunity is opening, before the European presidency passes from Spain to Belgium. And I think we have to take advantage of it," added Iglesias, who met with Milei this week to discuss the issue. "I've been with the president-elect and he has that same opinion."
"Argentina needs investment, its platform must be Mercosur. Milei is very determined that Argentina trade with all the countries of the world, but align itself politically with the democratic countries of the West, not with the BRICS."
Milei and Lula do not speak to each other, and the Brazilian president declined the invitation to attend the transfer of power, but the Argentine is willing to take the step that his friend Fernández will not take. Sanchez has also had no contact with Milei, whom he did not directly congratulate for his resounding victory over Peronism in the November 19 elections. And again the paradox: it is Milei who could propel him towards a great diplomatic achievement. The signature would no longer be by Lula, but by Paraguayan President Santiago Peña in his capacity as head pro tempore of Mercosur.
It remains, of course, to dissuade France, since Emmanuel Macron described the agreement as "outdated" and refuses to sign it. Without the yes of Paris, an agreement is impossible.
"Macron speaks for an internal platform and has the wrong vision," Iglesias said. "The most important economic sectors in France, which is not agriculture, should have a very high interest in the agreement being concluded."
"The alternative is Mercosur with the European Union or Mercosur with China. That's it. Europe should draw some political conclusions from what happened to it in Africa. If they are going to do the same in Latin America, they are going to open the doors to Russia, the BRICS and China. Does Macron want that?"