He won’t pick up the phone

Boris Johnson’s trip to Chile, Argentina and Peru hit the UK headlines at the end of May, and I was curious to see what the press there would make of his visit.

El Mercurio, one of Chile’s main dailies, carried an article written by the Foreign Secretary calling for the current trade terms between the UK and Chile to be rolled over post-Brexit, but this left one Twitter commentator puzzled (” They were part of the EU!!! Who understands them”). The main focus for many journalists was Johnson’s visit to a Falklands war memorial where he laid a wreath in honour of the Argentinian soldiers who died in the 1982 campaign. In Argentinian paper La Nación , journalist Alan Soria Guadelupe reported that Johnson’s visit to the memorial, accompanied by his opposite number Jorge Faurie, was a first for a British foreign minister on Argentinian territory and reflected a growing closeness in relations between the two governments (“Inédito homenaje británico a los caídos en Malvinas“).

In Chile, a leader in El Mercurio drew a link to another issue facing South American leaders – how to respond to the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. The article “Chile Frente a Maduro” condemns US threats of military action but calls on the US and EU to join in diplomatic efforts to put pressure on the Maduro regime. The article argues that Britain could use its links with Caribbean members of the Commonwealth, many of whom still support Maduro, as part of this campaign, and suggested that this issue that should be on the agenda for Johnson’s meetings with Chilean ministers.

There were issues closer to home for many Chilean journalists over this period. Online monthly periodical El Ciudadano reported on the anger and frustration of one Chilean priest at the apparent inability of bishops, including his own, to face up to the child abuse scandal that has been rocking the catholic church in the country (“En Linares hay un chiquillo abusado por un cura y el obispo de allá no le contesta el teléfono“).