One can picture Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner watching the recent protests in Brazil with more than a little satisfaction. After all, Argentina and Brazil, perennial rivals in countless fields, are both facing challenging times. And Brazil’s president, Dilma Rousseff, has had strained relations with her neighbor across the border.
But don’t confuse the troubles in Brazil with those in Argentina. Fernandez’s woes are to a large extent of her own making, and that’s a view that Rousseff has expressed to her Argentinian counterpart. Both countries may have experienced slowing growth and mass protests, but while Argentinians protested against the president, Brazilians demanded policy changes.
When the two Señoras Presidentas met in Buenos Aires a few weeks ago, the public atmosphere was as one might expect from a presidential summit of neighboring countries: cordial smiles and pledges of friendship. Behind the conventionally staged trappings of the encounter, however, lay strong crosswinds and competing ambitions.