Mike Pompeo´s visit, Argentine foreign policy, and its impact on human rights

The North American secretary of state, Michael Pompeo, came to the Argentina, who is he and why did he come?

Since Donald Trump took office, his presidency has been dominated by policies hostile towards human rights and all sectors that protect those rights. The government of the United States of America has no intention of promoting human rights on a global level, rather to the contrary.

Said policies have been enthusiastically carried out by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. From threats against judges and prosecutors of the International Criminal Court (the chief prosecutor of the ICC´s visa was revoked), severing ties with independent experts, cozying up politically with authoritarian leaders such as Mohamed bin Salman, to the advancing of xenophobic policies that defy international treaties, the offenses are numerous.

Additionally, Pompeo promoted a new policy by which citizenship is being denied to children of same-sex parents when they are born abroad. In October of last year, the US State Department announced that it would deny visas to same-sex partners of US-bound diplomats. Pompeo also expanded the Global Gag Rule which will make it even more difficult for foreign NGO´s who receive any funding from the US to provide specialized health care to vulnerable girls and women, as well as to transgender and non-binary people.

This fits in with the broader violation of rights being carried out by the Trump administration. Other examples include the detention and separation of families, the Muslim travel ban, the 700,000 lives imperiled by the repeal of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), numerous attempts to roll back equal rights protections for the LGBTQ community, the revival of the racist War on Drugs, and illegal restrictions on the rights of asylum seekers.
Secretary Pompeo´s latest episode violating human rights was just last week. The State Department announced the creation of the “Commission on Unalienable Rights,” to reexamine the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1948. It seeks to differentiate between rights that are “unalienable” and those which are “ad hoc” in an effort to find moral justification for their actions to erode international human rights. This commission sets a terrible precedent and sends a dangerous message to the world by questioning the legitimacy of the universal system of human rights while emboldening governments that violate those rights.

Since their transition to democracy, Argentina is recognized world-wide for its policies in defense of human rights, and, in particular, for formally adjudicating serious crimes of state-sponsored terrorism. The success of that effort earned them a place within the international human rights community. Under the Cambiemos administration human rights policies have been rolled back across multiple fields. In matters of security, the government has promoted and applied policies that support the excessive use of force and the lethal use of firearms towards suspects who flee (like the case of Chocobar) and the use of disproportionate force (like the case of Rafael Nahuel in Bariloche). This administration has also been characterized by the repression of social protests and the criminalization and persecution of social leaders and demonstrators, regressive immigration policies implemented by decrees, and the arbitrary use of the anti-terrorism law to detain Argentine citizens as well as citizens of other nations.

In terms of foreign policy, although the administration has denounced the human rights violations in Venezuela, it has not reacted to many other troubling issues, such as the racist, xenophobic, and anti-human-right policies of Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil; the egregious human rights violations that have occurred in the name of the “War on Drugs” declared by Mexico´s former president Enrique Peña Nieto; and the regression of Colombian peace treaties since Iván Duque took office. In this context, it is a major setback that our country´s foreign policy is becoming more and more subordinate to US interests in what Juan Gabriel Tokatlian called, “concessive peripheral unilateralism towards the United States.” The impact on human rights will only worsen.