It will be just over 14 thousand kilometers that the Aerolineas Argentinas charter will travel from Beijing until arriving on Tuesday, February 8, at Bridgetown, the capital of the Caribbean island of Barbados, to move the president Alberto Fernandez and his entourage to one of the countries of the Lesser Antilles, where he will complete the last part of his tour that included stops in Russia and China.
There are reasons other than those previous stops that will take the Argentine head of state to this archipelago that on November 30, 2021, just over two months ago, decided to become the youngest Parliamentary Republic in the world, leaving behind the English monarchy that governed their destinies. Why did you choose that place as the end of the journey?
There are four reasons. The first is that in this way will begin to fulfill its commitment to visit as many as possible of the nations that make up the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), the regional bloc that he has chaired since January 7. Second, that the Prime Minister of Barbados, Mia Mottley, It is one of the major references in the discussions on Climate Change and with enormous influence at a global level.. There are coincidences to prioritize this topic in the different international forums.
The third is that one of the main policies carried out by Alberto Fernández during his administration, promoting gender parity, has great relevance among Barbadians: the three main political positions are held by women. And the fourth is that Barbados and other nearby islands are part of C24, the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United Nations Organization, which recommends insisting on dialogue as a way to resolve Argentine claims of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands.
For the Argentine president, the 32 members of CELAC (Brazil has been self-excluded since Jair Bolsonaro came to power) are of similar importance. In this case, even though it is a country of just 287,000 inhabitants and with little mutual trade, the geopolitical role will be prioritized. Mottley, who swept the last elections in Barbados allowing his re-election in office, is a figure that also strongly influences the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). It can be a crucial ally among those natural paradises with white sand beaches, tropical climate and a preponderant role in cruise tourism when it comes to voting in some instances before multilateral organizations.
The prime minister received the 2021 Champions of the Earth award from the UN. His fiery harangue at the 76th General Assembly in which demanded from the world’s great leaders a greater willingness to reduce fossil fuels as quickly as possible had a big impact. Mottley, 56, promotes this elimination in his territory by 2030 and also wants each Barbadian home to have solar panels, an electric vehicle and a million trees to be planted to combat the effects of Climate Change that threatens several islands with its disappearance due to the rise in the level of the oceans.
“The Caribbean is having a very hard time with climate change. It is a very tragic issue and I want my management as president of CELAC to pay particular attention because incredible things are happening in terms of climate. You have to listen to what the Prime Minister of Barbados has to say because it is really shocking. The water is covering the islands and making them disappear. Hurricanes appear more frequently and entire populations are worn. As Latin American brothers who are from the Caribbean, we want to collaborate so that they cope with this problem and solve it,” said Alberto Fernández before embarking on his trip.
In addition to the consensus on the climate issue, Argentina needs to secure support for claims related to the Malvinas. After four decades of the war with Great Britain, this year will be particularly intense on this issue. And from the Argentine Foreign Ministry with Santiago Cafiero, one of the members of the presidential delegation on this trip, at the head they know that this former colony that became independent in 1966 but still belongs to the Commonwealth (the community that makes up former British colonies, others still under dependency and also countries that do not have historical links with Great Britain) can act as an anchor for these purposes.
Gustavo Martínez Pandiani, a career diplomat and who was ambassador to Barbados between 2018 and 2020, currently works at the Argentine Foreign Ministry as Director for Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico. explained to Infobae that the President will arrive in the capital of Barbados “with a work agenda, not to go to the beach. He will meet with three prime ministers and will meet with the authorities of the OECS, which is made up of 6 Caribbean countries.” In addition to Mottley, at a lunch that will take place on Tuesday at noon, Fernández will speak with the Prime Minister of Granada, Keith Mitchell, and with the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Philip Joseph Pierre.
According to Martínez Pandiani, the Caribbean country is a potential alternative market for Argentina in trade: “It receives 5 million tourists with high purchasing power, mainly Americans, Canadians and English. We are selling them wines, we are trying to export meat and we have to be creative and introduce other products”.
Martínez Pandiani, in the midst of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final dispute between Boca and River, made it possible for the Barbados U-17 youth team to travel to Argentina for a week in a sports exchange agreement. That Caribbean delegation stayed at Boca’s facilities in Casa Amarilla (they share the colors of the flag, blue and yellow) and played a friendly match against the Argentine team of that same category at the AFA site in Ezeiza.
Barbados received on December 1, 2021 within the framework of the vaccine donations made by our country in a campaign aimed at equitable access to vaccines to reduce the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, 30,000 doses of the drug made by AstraZeneca, of the 42,000 sent to the OECS.
The Argentine delegation will stay at the Accra Beach Hotel and, among other activities, will visit the National Botanical Garden where, due to a local initiative, each visitor must plant a tree and a tour of the West Coast Footbridge. On Tuesday afternoon they will undertake the return to Buenos Aires.