At Argentina junta memorial, Scholz evokes Iran protests – DW – 01/29/2023

Olaf Scholz spent a second day in Buenos Aires on Sunday, visiting a memorial to those killed in the country’s military dictatorship. He also toured a Volkswagen factory, and visited the distinctive La Boca district of Argentina’s capital. 

While paying his respects to the victims of Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship at a memorial on the Rio de la Plata in Buenos Aires on Sunday, he drew a parallel with Iran’s crackdown on protesters at present. 

Scholz said that visiting the memorial meant that he had to “think of the young people who are now being killed in Iran when they stand up for their freedom and for a better life.” 

At the site, Scholz met with relatives of the victims, many of whom were not told of their loved ones’ fate at the time. 

“The fact that dictatorship brings human suffering, oppression and death, that is what is very visible here — just as we are currently seeing it to be the case all over the world,” he said. 

The chancellor added that what happened in Argentina was a warning not to take freedom for granted and a reminder to all countries that “it is our task to ensure that we leave such times behind us.” 

Scholz wants more trade between EU and Mercosur

On Saturday, Scholz had held talks with Argentina’s President Alberto Fernandez, the highest-ranking appointment on his two-day schedule. 

He called for redoubled efforts to set up a free trade agreement between the EU and the South American trade bloc Mercosur. The deal had faltered at the national ratification stage after being agreed by bloc representatives.

Fernandez’s government had said that EU protectionism was ultimately to blame for the breakdown. Meanwhile European parliaments like France and Germany’s have not ratified the deal either following the outcry from from environmental and agricultural lobbies on issues like deforestation. 

Argentina is facing an economic crisis. Inflation was approaching 100% year-on-year by the end of 2022, dwarfing the highs of 10% that put such pressure on Europe last year. 

Nurses in Argentina seek more pay

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The country is struggling to keep to terms of a debt restructuring deal with the IMF, though it reached a deal for another tranche of emergency credit last December.

Scholz en route to Chile

The German chancellor also toured the well known and vibrant la Boca district of Buenos Aires on Sunday, meeting with youth groups in the city. 

He went to a Volkswagen factory in Pacheco making the VW Amarok pick-up truck.

Other trade opportunities were thought to be on the agenda well, including mineral extraction. Parts of Argentina are resource-rich, as in much of Latin America, with lithium reserves in particular — necessary for battery production — thought to be a promising area for exploration. 

Scholz boarded a plane for the next stop on his regional tour, Chile, on Sunday afternoon local time. 

He was expected in Brazil for the last and arguably the highest-profile leg of his trip by Monday. 

msh/dj (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)

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