Condoleezza Rice has embarked on a visit to Brazil and Chile, but the secretary of State won’t be stopping in neighboring Argentina, a sign of ever-frostier relations. “The United States is clearly snubbing Argentina,” one expert tells the New York Times. New Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner has worsened already-sour relations by strengthening ties with Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
The US is investigating an alleged $800,000 secret campaign donation from Chavez to Kirchner. Kirchner says the investigation is politically motivated, but Venezuela has meanwhile pledged to pump 10 million barrels of oil into Argentina. Anti-American sentiment has been high in Argentina since 2001, when the country defaulted on billions in debt to the US-controlled International Monetary Fund, prompting an economic crisis.