Argentina's President Mauricio Macri came to Washington DC for his first visit under the Trump regime on Wednesday, April 26th, 2017. The whirlwind visit lasted barely 36 hours and began with a meeting on Thursday, April 27th with the American President. Later that same day he appeared at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) to address an overflowing crowd eager to hear about his government's vaunted reforms and plans for growth and prosperity (see Link that follows for a transcript of the event).
Suave, soft spoken and earnest, Macri related how he is opening up the Argentine economy while retaining the approval of a majority of his countrymen for the reforms taking place. He was clear and emphatic in his rejection of the so-called 'populism' of the past 15 years that, in his view, kept his country isolated and mired in conflict and corruption. Macri has slashed taxes on agricultural exports, paid off international bond holders and negotiated new loans and assistance from the large multi-lateral lending agencies such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), World Bank and FMI among others. With Luis Alberto Moreno, President of the IDB, seated in the front row Macri described initial agreements on infrastructure development and improvements totaling hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade. He stated his goal of limiting inflation to single digits, eliminating corruption and creating good paying, productive jobs for his people.
Macri joked about his time as head of Boca Juniors Soccer Club, claiming it was an even more difficult position than his term as Mayor of Buenos Aires. He was clear, succinct and diplomatic when asked about his 'wonderful' meeting at the White House with his old friend from another life and added some thoughtful insights into the situation Venezuela faces today and the reaction of MERCOSUR and the OAS to the situation. Interviewed by the always tactful and knowledgeable Mack McClarty, Chief of Staff under the Clinton administration, it was a remarkable 45 minutes. CSIS made special mention of the popularity of the event which attracted an impressive audience. According to Mr. Macri it was an example of how Argentina has once again become an outward looking, sophisticated, welcoming society ready to do business with the United States. In the tense, divided atmosphere of Washington DC, it was almost refreshing to hear Mr. Macri's optimism and faith in democracy.