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Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro meets with Argentine head of state Mauricio Macri,
In his first official visit, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro met with his Argentine counterpart, Mauricio Macri, in Buenos Aires Thursday to discuss Mercosur, shared economies and the upcoming elections in Argentina.
At their day-long meeting, the Brazilian president praised Macri for his negotiations with European Union officials to reach a trade agreement between Mercosur and the EU, which Macri's administration has been working on since 2017. For the past 20 years, the two major trading blocs have so far failed to produce a free trade agreement, but Bolsonaro insisted Thursday that a deal was "imminent."
"The signing of the Mercosur-EU agreement is imminent. Congratulations to your Excellency for your work" Bolsonaro said to the Argentine president.
"We're on the verge of signing an agreement between Mercosur and the European Union," said Bolsonaro in Buenos Aires. "We are all going to win with this: Argentina, Brazil and the other countries of the bloc, [Paraguay and Uruguay]," he added.
The encounter between the two presidents came at a time when their respective economies are in crisis. After taking out a US$56.3 billion loan from International Monetary Fund (IMF), Argentina's economy has gone deeper into recession, with a steady 55 percent inflation rate, and over nine percent unemployment figure. Bolsonaro's popularity is dipping as Brazil's unemployment rate remains high at 25 percent.
After admitting he understands nothing about the economy, Bolsonaro surprised Argentine business leaders Thursday afternoon by saying that the region should take on "a single currency." All of this after saying he didn't want to be a part of Mercosur if elected during his presidential campaign in 2018.
With Argentine’s electoral campaign underway, and former president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner now in the running for vice president, Bolsonaro encouraged citizens there to vote "responsibly."
"I am going to make a call to the Argentine people: that God can bless them all because they have October elections and everyone has to have, as Brazil had, a lot of responsibility, and much less emotion when deciding the future,” said the head of state. Earlier last week Bolsonaro was more explicit about who Argentines should vote for: "We want the Argentine people to choose a center-right candidate like Brazil, Paraguay, Chile, Peru, and Colombia did."
Demonstrators gathered in Buenos Aires to denounce Bolsonaro’s presence in the city with the slogan "Argentina rejects Bolsonaro. Your hatred is not welcome here."
"It is the first time that Bolsonaro has visited Argentina and with Mauricio Macri, they will discuss an agenda that restructures Mercosur, Venezuela and the presidential elections in Argentina. We call for the defense of Latin American sovereignty and solidarity," said organizers.