While the CELAC summit was taking place at the Sheraton Hotel, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner spearheaded her own international agenda from the Senate. She had already met the day before with the president of Honduras, Xiomara Castro, and on Tuesday she dedicated a large part of the afternoon to holding bilateral meetings with the presidents of Bolivia, Luis Arce, and Colombia, Gustavo Petro. From his office on the first floor of the Upper House, CFK spoke with both of them about the political and social reality of Latin America. There was a great expectation that the appointment with Lula Da Silva could take place during the day, but finally, after several tussles on the meeting point, there was no way to make the meeting.
When the clock was about to show 6:00 p.m., Luis Arce entered the National Senate to meet with Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. The VII summit of heads of state of CELAC had just ended and the halls of the Upper House were almost empty (since, despite the fact that the extraordinary sessions officially began on Monday, the majority of the senators are still in vacation or campaign). Accompanied by a small entourage -among whom was the Argentine ambassador in Bolivia, Ariel Basteiro-, Arce was first received by the administrative secretary, María Luz Alonso, and signed the Book of Honor that is in the Hall of the Provinces. Then, he went up to the first floor where CFK’s office is located and held a 40-minute meeting with the vice president.
Although not much information was leaked about the content of the meeting, those around the vice president were quick to share a video in which both leaders were seen greeting each other warmly. “I’m very happy to have you here,” CFK is heard saying, who had also met with former Bolivian president Evo Morales the night before. It should be noted that the relationship between Morales and his political heir is not at its best, since both are involved in a strong dispute for control of the Movement Towards Socialism. The former Bolivian president, however, maintains a very close relationship with CFK, whom he usually visits every time he travels to Argentina (which is very often).
An hour and a half later, at 7:30 p.m., the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, also entered through the esplanade of Avenida Entre Ríos. The meeting was much longer – it lasted more than an hour and a half – as it was the first time that both leaders had met face to face. “I really want to meet him because he is the result of Colombia’s recent history. I really liked his speech at the United Nations and it is always good to meet someone with the magic of the land of García Márquez,” CFK said in a video that posted a few minutes later. And it is that as with the president of Honduras, CFK decided to venture into a “youtuber” profile after each meeting with the leaders, showing a kind of “behind the scenes” with notes from the meetings.
The meeting with Petro had important political weight, not only because he was the first president of the left to be elected in Colombia, but also because the Colombian government has been dragging out some episodes that resonate strongly in Kirchner’s memory. One of them was the attempted attack on the Vice President of Colombia, Francia Márquez, just a couple of weeks ago. In turn, in Colombia it was recently revealed that the government of former President Iván Duque had carried out intelligence tasks to investigate the opposition (that is, Petro’s campaign team). “The models are repeated in the region. Just as in the 70’s there were military coups throughout Latin America, now we see a very similar practice in all the countries of the region in which intelligence services are used, the media communication and Justice to persecute political leaders of the popular movements”, he stressed to Page 12 Senator Oscar Parrilli, who also held some meetings with international leaders.
For two days CFK has been promoting its international agenda parallel to CELAC, seeking to reaffirm its international leadership. However, he did not get the photo he was looking for with the Brazilian president, Lula Da Silva. The vice president invited him to her office, but Lula’s team responded that it would be better to meet at the Sheraton Hotel. There was no way to agree. Close to CFK they insisted on the protocol that dictated that it had to be Lula, as an official visit, the one who went to the Upper House (institutional headquarters of the vice president). After several twists and turns, the appointment ended up falling.