International

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Rice Skips Argentina Visit

March 14, 2008 02:17 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Condoleezza Rice is on a two-day South American trip to visit Brazil and Ecuador, but not Argentina. Her absence underscores U.S. frustrations with the country.

30-Second Summary

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Some say the United States is snubbing Argentina because of a recent scandal involving $800,000 in secret campaign finances that were allegedly meant for Argentine president Christina Fernandez de Kirchner and were provided by the Venezuelan government.

The money was found in the suitcase of Venezuelan/U.S. citizen Guido Alejandro Antonini Wilson August, sparking suspicions that it was to be used for bribes and to finance Argentine organizations sympathetic to President Hugo Chavez. FBI recordings indicate that the funds were to be given to Kirchner’s campaign.

According to The New York Times, Kirchner “angrily asserted … that the American inquiry was politically motivated and intended to try to damage relations between Argentina and Venezuela.”

She also stated that Washington wants “nations of employees and subordinates,” rather than “nations of friends.” Refusing to let the charges hinder Argentina’s growing relationship with Venezuela, she said that “Argentina has never needed anyone to tell her who she can be friends with.”

U.S. relations with Venezuela grew tenser in January, when Chavez negotiated the release of two hostages from Colombia, but urged other nations to recognize their captors, the rebel group known as the FARC, as a legitimate army.

The BBC
reported that Chavez’s remarks worsened the chances of release for the FARC’s other hostages by creating a situation in which the Colombian government will be even less likely to grant concessions to the guerillas.

Headline Links: Avoiding Argentina

Reaction: Kirchner angered by charges

Opinion & Analysis: The ‘Axis of Hope’

Background: Chavez and the United States

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