Rice Snubs Argentina in Trip South

Relations grow icier as Kirchner drifts toward Chavez
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 13, 2008 2:19 PM CDT
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez gives to Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner a replica of the Simon Bolivar sword during a meeting at the governmental palace in Buenos Aires.   (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)
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(Newser) – 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. (Read more Latin America stories.)